The inspiration for the disturbing leech scene was very much based on real-life events. In a special features segment, Stephen King revealed that the leeches scene draws on a moment in his childhood.
It was young King at the receiving end who had to yank a leech from his behind. Funnily enough, King himself didn’t pass out, but his friend did. Under the circumstances, anyone would – and probably swear off swimming forever.
Stories of Brownsville and Weather Playing Foul
The producers shot the film in Brownsville Oregon – a departure from the novella where events transpire in Maine. Reiner was looking for a town that time had forgotten. Brownsville was perfect. It looked like it was still in the 1950s.
The town also received plenty of rain which was imperative for some scenes. The producers seemingly didn’t account for the unpredictable Oregon weather because they landed in Brownsville for 60 days of abundant sunshine! Finally, the crew resorted to soaking the set in water to give it an old-timey, hazy look.
Reiner’s Feelings for the Film
“Stand by Me” is the kind of film one can’t help but love – from fans to critics alike. What about the creators? Rob has often said that “Stand by Me” means more to him than any other movie so far. It was a film with the right mix of nostalgia, melancholy, and humor.
For him, the story’s vibe was similar to his personal sensibility. The music in the film was what Reiner listened to growing up. Reiner was 12 years old in 1959 when the film’s events began. The reactions to it validated both his skills as a director and outlook on the world.
The Actors Were Deeply Invested in Character Developments
The four boys were talented, no doubt. They were reportedly a precocious, professional bunch too. These weren’t your average adolescents. The actors were deeply invested in their characters’ arc – studying scenes and suggesting changes they felt were a good fit.
During an interview, Wil Wheaton explained how he, Feldman, and Phoenix conceptualized the scene in which Verne forgets the secret knock to the clubhouse. The boys felt the moment added to Verne’s image as a bumbling fool – reinforcing how “pathetic” the boy was.
Why Hollywood Wasn’t in Love Initially
One of life’s follies is the existence of great talent in a world that can’t recognize it. “Stand by Me” had a unique, decidedly darker script for a coming-of-age story. Anything that goes against the grain, and you can be sure Hollywood will refuse to make it.
Where was the love interest? The first kisses? Surely, a story about four adolescent boys would feature a teenage girl somewhere. According to Bruce Evans, who co-directed and wrote the film, every major studio turned down the film. Decades later, we can bet they’re still kicking themselves.