Stand by Me (film)

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Stand by Me
Stand By Me 1986 American Theatrical Release Poster.jpg
American theatrical release poster, August 1986
Directed by Rob Reiner
Produced by
Written by
  • Bruce A. Evans
  • Raynold Gideon
Based on The Body 
by Stephen King
Narrated by Richard Dreyfuss
Music by Jack Nitzsche
Cinematography Thomas Del Ruth
Edited by Robert Leighton
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release dates
  • August 8, 1986 (1986-08-08)
Running time
88 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $8 million[2]
Box office $52.3 million[2]

Stand by Me is a 1986 American coming of age drama adventure film directed by Rob Reiner and starring Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, and Jerry O'Connell. Based on Stephen King's novella The Body the title is derived from the Ben E. King song of the same name, which plays over the opening and end credits. The film tells the story of four boys who go on a hike across the countryside to view the dead body of a missing child.


Author Gordie Lachance (Richard Dreyfuss) recalls a childhood journey to view the body of a missing boy near the (fictional) town of Castle Rock, Oregon over Labor Day weekend in 1959.

Gordie (Wil Wheaton) was a quiet, bookish boy with a penchant for writing and telling stories. He spends his time with three friends: Chris Chambers (River Phoenix), who is from a family of criminals and alcoholics; Teddy Duchamp (Corey Feldman), who is eccentric and physically scarred; and Vern Tessio (Jerry O'Connell), who is overweight, timid, and often the target of bullying.

After Vern overhears his older brother, Billy (Casey Siemaszko), and Billy's friend, Charlie Hogan (Gary Riley), talking about finding the body of Ray Brower, who was killed after being struck by a train, Gordie, Chris, Teddy, and Vern decide to embark upon a hiking journey following the local rail line, to see if they can find Ray's body and become local heroes.

After they locate the body, local bully Ace Merrill (Kiefer Sutherland) who regularly targets the boys, and his gang consisting of Chris' older brother "Eyeball" (Bradley Gregg) and five other hoodlums, show up in their cars to take the body (and the credit for finding it). When Gordie makes it clear that he is willing to kill Ace (with a stolen pistol), Ace and his gang finally leave. Gordie decides that no one will get credit for finding the dead body and reports it via an anonymous phone call to the authorities. The boys hike back to Castle Rock, bid each other farewell, and expect to see each other in two days, as seventh graders in junior high.

Gordie states that the friends drifted apart shortly thereafter. In the closing scenes, Gordie finishes his memoir and takes his son and his son's friend swimming.



In a 2011 interview with NPR, Wheaton attributed the film's success to the director's casting choices:

Rob Reiner found four young boys who basically were the characters we played. I was awkward and nerdy and shy and uncomfortable in my own skin and really, really sensitive, and River was cool and really smart and passionate and even at that age kind of like a father figure to some of us, Jerry was one of the funniest people I had ever seen in my life, either before or since, and Corey was unbelievably angry and in an incredible amount of pain and had an absolutely terrible relationship with his parents.[3]

Parts of the film were shot in Brownsville, Oregon, which stood in for the fictional town of Castle Rock. Scenes that include the "mailbox baseball" game and the junkyard scenes were filmed in Veneta, Oregon. The junkyard is still in operation. The campout/standing guard scene was filmed in Eugene, Oregon, just a few miles from Veneta. The general store is in Franklin, Oregon, just north of Veneta. Scenes along the railroad tracks were shot near Cottage Grove, Oregon, along the right-of-way of the Oregon, Pacific and Eastern Railway, now used as the Row River National Recreation Trail. The scene where the boys outrace a locomotive across a trestle was filmed at Lake Britton on the McCloud River Railroad, near McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park, California.[citation needed]


In March 1986, Columbia Pictures, concerned that the original title, The Body, was misleading, renamed the film Stand by Me. According to screenwriter Raynold Gideon, " sounded like either a sex film, a bodybuilding film or another Stephen King horror film. Rob came up with Stand by Me, and it ended up being the least unpopular option."[4]


The film's musical score was composed by Jack Nitzsche. On August 8, 1986, a soundtrack album was released containing many of the 1950s classic rock songs featured in the film.

  1. "Everyday" (Buddy Holly) – 2:07
  2. "Let the Good Times Roll" (Shirley and Lee) – 2:22
  3. "Come Go with Me" (The Del-Vikings) – 2:40
  4. "Whispering Bells" (The Del-Vikings) – 2:25
  5. "Get a Job" (The Silhouettes) – 2:44
  6. "Lollipop" (The Chordettes) – 2:09
  7. "Yakety Yak" (The Coasters) – 1:52
  8. "Great Balls of Fire" (Jerry Lee Lewis) – 1:52
  9. "Mr. Lee" (The Bobbettes) – 2:14
  10. "Stand by Me" (Ben E. King) – 2:55


Box office[edit]

The film was a box office success in North America. It opened in a limited release on August 8, 1986 in 16 theaters and grossed $242,795, averaging $15,174 per theater. The film then had its wide opening in 745 theaters on August 22 and grossed $3,812,093, averaging $5,116 per theater and ranking #2. The film's widest release was 848 theaters, and it ended up earning $52,287,414 overall, well above its $8 million budget.[5]

Critical response[edit]

Rotten Tomatoes, a review aggregator, reports that 91% of 53 surveyed critics gave the film a positive rating; the average rating was 8/10.[6]

King, whose story this film was adapted from, was very impressed with the finished result[7] and indicated, on the special features of the 25th anniversary Blu-ray set, that he considered the film to be the first successful translation to film of any of his works.




In 1987, following the success of Stand by Me, Reiner co-founded a film and television production company and named it Castle Rock Entertainment, after the fictional setting of the story.[7]

On July 24, 2010, a 25th Anniversary Celebration of the filming of Stand by Me was held in Brownsville, Oregon. The event included a cast and crew Q&A session, an amateur blueberry pie eating contest, and an outdoor showing of the film.[11]

The opening track to the seventh album of the Welsh post hardcore band, Funeral for a Friend, titled Chapter and Verse, makes reference to Stand by Me with the line: "I've sat and watched Stand by Me for the millionth time, it's a lifeline. I wish I was Chris Chambers, but in truth I'm more like Vern".


  1. ^ "STAND BY ME (15)". British Board of Film Classification. September 12, 1986. Retrieved August 15, 2015. 
  2. ^ a b "Stand by Me". The Numbers. Retrieved 2015-01-06. 
  3. ^ Wheaton, Wil (August 6, 2011). All Things Considered. Interview with David Greene. National Public Radio. WNPR. Meriden, Connecticut. Retrieved August 6, 2011. 
  4. ^ Stand By Me DVD Booklet, Columbia TriStar Home Video, 2000
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Stand by Me (1986)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2015-01-06. 
  7. ^ a b Herman, Karen. Interview with Rob Reiner. Archive of American Television (November 29, 2004).
  8. ^ AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs Nominees
  9. ^ AFI's 100 Years...100 Cheers Nominees
  10. ^ AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) Ballot
  11. ^ Paul, Alex (July 10, 2010). "‘Stand By Me’ festival slated". Albany Democrat-Herald. Retrieved December 7, 2012. 

External links[edit]