On This Day: ‘Stand by Me’ Directed by Rob Reiner Premieres in Theaters 35 Years Ago

by Keeli Parkey
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“Stand By Me,” which is arguably one of the most beloved coming-of-age films ever made, premiered in theaters 35 years ago today.

It was on Aug. 22, 1986, that director Rob Reiner’s adaption of a Stephen King story introduced us to four friends and their journey to discover the body of a missing boy from their town. They are Gordie Lachance, Chris Chambers, Teddy Duchamp, and Vern Tessio.

During their adventure, the four boys experience many exciting – and scary – things. They fall into a pond and are bitten by leeches. They are forced to run for their lives when a train approaches a bridge they are walking on. And, they encounter the local bully.

Set in the 1950s, “Stand By Me” is a film about friendship and growing up and expanding your world. It’s a film that makes fans nostalgic for the days of their youth.

The title of the film comes from the Ben E. King song of the same name. Ben E. King first released the song in 1961. Thanks to the success of the film it rose to popularity again in the 1980s. Rob Reiner requested that Michael Jackson cover the song for the movie. However, Reiner later decided that the original track was a more suitable fit for the film.

Stephen King Was A Fan Of ‘Stand By Me’

Stephen King reportedly loved the film. And, said that it was the best adaptation of any of his stories. “Stand By Me” was based on King’s short story, “The Body.” This short story appeared in his collection titled, “Different Seasons.”

Also, Rob Reiner once said that he thought it was his best film. Because Stephen King respected Reiner’s work on “Stand By Me,” the writer went on to allow Reiner to make “Misery” in 1990. Also, as time went on, Castle Rock, Reiner’s production company made other films based on the author’s tales.

In addition to the interesting story, “Stand By Me” has a great cast. Playing the four friends were Will Wheaton as Gordie, River Phoenix as Chris, Corey Feldman as Teddy, and Jerry O’Connell as Vern. Kiefer Sutherland played the bully, Ace Merrill. Sutherland reportedly stayed in character between takes, even teasing the four young stars behind the scenes.

Unfortunately, River Phoenix died in 1993 when he was only 23 years old. He originally auditioned to play Gordie. Wheaton, Feldman, and O’Connell have gone on to play many other roles.

Also in the cast were John Cusack as Denny Lachance and Richard Dreyfuss as The Writer. Reiner has said that finding the perfect person to play The Writer was a challenge. The job was given to both David Dukes and Michael McKean. However, he finally decided Dreyfuss was the perfect fit. Dreyfuss and Reiner had attended high school together.

You can watch a clip from “Stand By Me” below.

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