23.7 Facts About Stanley Kubrick's 'The Shining'

You know that a film is a lasting classic when it can sustain another entire film being made about it. Be it “Citizen Kane,” “Psycho” or “Apocalypse Now,” many of the great movies have themselves been the subject of films (sometimes successfully, sometimes less so), and the latest to get the treatment is Stanley Kubrick‘s classic horror “The Shining,” with the release this Friday of documentary “Room 237.”

Something of a disappointment on release, with mixed reviews (including multiple Golden Raspberry nominations), and middling box-office, almost immediately “The Shining” was reappraised and cemented its place not just as one of the greatest horror films ever made, but one of Kubrick’s finest moments — even if author Stephen King wasn’t himself won over. And furthermore, it’s become the subject of all kinds of theories and conspiracies over the years, which serve as the subject of Rodney Ascher‘s “Room 237,” which was one of the highlights of our time at Cannes last year (read our review here)

So with “Room 237” (named, of course, after the most terrifying room in the Overlook Hotel) finally opening this Friday, and Stephen King‘s sequel novel “Doctor Sleep” being published later in the year, it seemed like a good idea to put together a little brief on Kubrick’s movie. So below, you’ll find 23.7 facts (well, rounded up to 24) about the subject of “Room 237,” “The Shining.” Read on below, and feel free to add your own trivia, anecdotes, stories and theories in the comments section below.

1. Having completed “Barry Lyndon,” Kubrick was struggling to find another project. He had a stack of books he would look through for ideas and his assistant recalls hearing thumps for hours on some days as Stanley picked up a book, read it for about a minute, and then threw it at the wall. When she noticed that the thumps had stopped she went into to check on him and found him reading “The Shining.”

2. Stephen King said the title was inspired by John Lennon‘s “Instant Karma” which features the line “We all shine on.”

3. King says that, while Jack Nicholson was always Kubrick’s first choice for the part (King always felt they needed more of an everyman), Robert De Niro, Robin Williams and Harrison Ford were also considered.

4. All the interiors were specially built on a soundstage in London, England. The Timberline Lodge, which was used for the exterior shots, requested that they not use the room 217, as it is in the book, fearing that nobody would want to stay there. Kubrick changed the script to use the non-existent room number 237

5. Because of the intense heat generated from the lighting used to recreate window sunlight, the lounge set caught fire and burnt down. That part of the Elstree studios was eventually rebuilt with a higher ceiling and ended up being used by Steven Spielberg for the snake-filled tomb in “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”

6. The 1997 miniseries remake (which King approved of) was filmed at the historic Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado, which is the hotel Stephen King stayed in, out-of-season before he was inspired to write The Shining. He stayed in Room 217 of the virtually empty hotel.

7. One of the actors arrived on set with a chess set, intending to play during the breaks. Kubrick was an avid chess player who used to hustle chess games for money. On an already delayed shoot, he suspended filming and played chess for hours instead. He won every game.

8. Garrett Brown, the inventor of the Steadicam, operated the famous Steadicam shots in the film himself. “The Shining” was only the seventh film to use the technique, after “Bound For Glory,” “Marathon Man,” “Rocky,” “Exorcist II: The Heretic,” “The Buddy Holly Story,” “Rocky II” and “Fame.”

9. Kubrick had the cast watch David Lynch’s “Eraserhead” multiple times to get them in the frame of mind he wanted.

10. Kubrick took more than 60 takes of the scene where the camera simply slowly zooms in on Scatman Crothers in his bedroom. 70 year-old Crothers became so exasperated with Kubrick’s compulsive style that he broke down and cried, prompting Jack Nicholson to swear he’d never work with Kubrick again.

11. “The Shining” is in the Guinness Book of Records for the most retakes of a single scene with 127 takes for a scene with Shelley Duvall.

12. Angelica Huston, Nicholson’s girlfriend at the time, said that the
actor would come home from shooting and walk silently to bed where he
would collapse and immediately fall asleep.

13. Kubrick realised that the typed-out pages reading “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” wouldn’t work with non-English-speaking viewers who wouldn’t recognise the phrase, so he had versions typed out in all the major European languages with equivalent idiomatic expressions in its place. The Italian version was “Il mattino ha l’ oro in bocca” or “He who wakes up early meets a golden day.” The German version was “Was Du heute kannst besorgen, das verschiebe nicht auf Morgen” or “Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today”. The Spanish version was “No por mucho madrugar amanece más temprano” or “Although one will rise early, it won’t dawn sooner.”

14. When Wendy and Danny are watching a film together, it is Robert Mulligan‘s 1971 film “Summer of ’42“.

15. Despite his famous distaste for the film, Stephen King has a cameo: he’s the conductor in the ballroom party scene.

16. The baseball bat which Wendy Torrance uses to hit Jack is signed by Boston Red Sox legend Carl Yastrzemski.

17. Kubrick decided that having the hedge animals come alive at the end, as they do in the book, was not feasible, so he opted for a hedge maze instead.

18. The maze at the end is made of crushed Styrofoam and salt.

19. The film originally had an alternative ending: the last shot of the party dissolved to a hospital scene where Wendy is in bed and Danny is playing in the waiting room. Ullman tells her that they have been unable to locate Jack’s body. Ullman gives Danny a ball to play with as he leaves — the one that mysteriously rolled into the hallway earlier. Kubrick removed it, and the scene hasn’t been seen since, though the screenplay was dug up recently.

20. The alternate ‘happy ending’ for “Blade Runner” re-uses footage from the opening helicopter shots of the mountains and woodland. If you watch the negative of “Blade Runner” in 1.85:1 instead of 2/35:1 you can see the yellow car on the road at the bottom of the frame.

21. That’s not the only “Blade Runner” link: Character actor Joe Turkel makes a rare appearance as the bartender, he is most famous for playing Dr Tyrell in Ridley Scott’s film (see picture)

22. The MPAA did not allow blood to be shown in any trailers that would be seen by all ages. Kubrick persuaded them that the blood was rusty water and got the trailer passed.

23. When released in Europe, the film was 25 minutes shorter than the U.S. version, the film being trimmed of most of its scenes set outside the hotel, with actors Anne Jackson and Tony Burton cut from the film altogether.

23.7. In tribute to the film, the makers of “Toy Story” made the carpet in Sid’s house the same as the carpet from the famous hallways scene in The Shining. (see picture). In fact, “Toy Story 3” director Lee Unkrich runs a website dedicated to the film.

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