The Shining (1980) - Illustrated Reference
The Shining was directed by Stanley Kubrick and premiered on the 23rd May 1980. Starring Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Danny Lloyd, Scatman Crothers, Barry Nelson, Philip Stone and Joe Turkel. Screenplay by Stanley Kubrick & Diane Johnson, based on the novel by Stephen King. Music by Wendy Carlos. 146mins (119mins)
Writer Jack Torrance accepts a job as caretaker of the isolated Overlook Hotel for the winter so he can relax and continue with his writing, he is staying there with his wife Wendy and 6 year old son Danny who has psychic abilities. The hotel was built on an Indian burial ground and the previous caretaker went mad, killing his family. Before long Jack starts to act strangely and Danny has horrific visions of murdered children.
Stephen King (1947-) arrived on the scene with a tale of telekinetic vengeance, first published in 1974 Carrie was a big seller and was followed by Salem’s Lot (1975) another success for King. The Shining (1977) was his third novel and his first hardback best seller. His apocalyptic magnum opus The Stand would be released a year later and Stephen would be crowned the new King of Horror, but it was The Shining that attracted Stanley Kubrick.
Jack: Wendy, darling, light of my life. I'm not gonna hurt ya. You didn't let me finish my sentence. I said, I'm not gonna hurt ya. I'm just going to bash your brains in. Gonna bash 'em right the f*ck in! ha ha ha
Wendy: Stay away from me! Don't hurt me!
Jack: I'm not gonna hurt ya...
Wendy: Stay away! Stop it!
Jack: Stop swingin' the bat. Put the bat down. Wendy? Give me the bat.
Jack Nicholson (1937-) / Jack Torrance
Born in Manhattan, New York City, Jack Nicholson’s first movie was The Cry Baby Killer (1958) and Jack has been a highly respected and popular movie star for the past four decades.
Jack Nicholson has won 3 Oscars – Best Actor for One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (1975), Best Supporting Actor for Terms of Endearment (1983) and Best Actor for As Good as it Gets (1997), he has had 9 more Oscar nominations – Easy Rider (1970), Five Easy Pieces (1970), The Last Detail (1973), Chinatown (1974), Reds (1981), Prizzi’s Honor (1985), Ironweed (1987), A Few Good Men (1992) and About Schmidt (2002).
Shelley Duvall (1949-) / Wendy Torrance
Born in Houston, Texas, Shelley Duvall’s films include – Brewster McCloud (1970), Nashville (1975), Annie Hall (1977), Popeye (1980 as Olive Oyl), Time Bandits (1981), Roxanne (1987) and Suburban Commando (1991).
Danny Torrance: Redrum. Redrum. Redrum.
Danny Lloyd (1973-) / Danny Torrance
Born in Chicago Illinois, Danny Lloyd was just 6 years old when he started filming The Shining, and has appeared in one other film – Will: The Autobiography of G. Gordon Liddy (1982). He is currently teaching hard sciences in Missouri.
Scatman Crothers (1910-1986) / Dick Halloran
Born in Terre Haute, Indiana, composer, singer and actor Scatman Crothers won a Best Supporting Actor Saturn Award for The Shining (1980).
Scatmans films include – East of Sumatra (1953), Hello Dolly (1969), The Aristocats (1970 voice of Scat Cat), Lady Sings the Blues (1972), Black Belt Jones (1974), One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest (1975), The Shootist (1976), Silver Streak (1976), Bronco Billy (1980) and Twilight Zone The Movie (1983).
Barry Nelson (1917-2007) / Stuart Ullman
Born in San Francisco, California, Barry Nelson’s films include – Johnny Eager (1941), Bataan (1943), A Guy Named Joe (1943), The Man With My Face (1951), Airport (1970) and Pete ‘n’ Tillie (1972). Nelson was the first actor to play James Bond in Casino Royale (1954) an episode of TV anthology series Climax.
Jack: Mr. Grady. You were the caretaker here. I recognize ya. I saw your picture in the newspapers. You, uh, chopped your wife and daughters up into little bits. And then you blew your brains out.
Grady: That's strange, sir. I don't have any recollection of that at all.
Jack: You WERE the caretaker here, Mr. Grady.
Grady: No sir, you are the caretaker. You've always been the caretaker. I ought to know: I've always been here.
Philip Stone (1924-2003) / Delbert Grady
Born in Leeds, England, Philip Stone’s films include – Unearthly Stranger (1964), Carry On Loving (1970), A Clockwork Orange (1971), Hitler: The Last Ten Days (1973), Barry Lyndon (1975), The Medusa Touch (1978), The Lord of the Rings (1978 voice of Theoden), Flash Gordon (1980) and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984).
Joe Turkel (1927-) / Lloyd the Bartender
Born in Brooklyn, New York, Joe Turkel’s films include – Halls of Montezuma (1950), The Killing (1956), Paths of Glory (1957), King Rat (1965), The Sand Pebbles (1966), The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre (1967), The Hindenburg (1975) and Blade Runner (1982)
Stuart Ullman: Physically, it's not a very demanding job. The only thing that can get a bit trying up here during the winter is a tremendous sense of isolation.
Jack Torrance: Well, that just happens to be exactly what I'm looking for. I'm outlining a new writing project and, uh, five months of peace is just what I want.
Stuart Ullman: That's very good Jack, because for some people, solitude and isolation can, of itself become a problem.
Jack Torrance: Not for me.
Stuart Ullman: How about your wife and son? How do you think they'll take to it?
Jack Torrance: They'll love it.
Stanley Kubrick (1928-1999) had directed the historical romance Barry Lyndon in 1975 and it was not a success, disappointed he decided on directing his first horror movie. Kubrick had filmed the ultimate sci-fi trip in the late 1960’s, he was now hoping to create the ultimate horror thriller.
Robin Williams, Robert De Niro and Harrison Ford were considered for the part of Jack Torrance, Stephen King thought none of them were suitable for the role, his choice would have been Jon Voight.
At the time Stephen King disliked Kubrick’s film, he admired some aspects of it but was just not happy with the finished film which jettisoned much of his novel.
Stephen King thought Jack Nicholson was miscast because the role was of an ordinary man who slowly descends into madness, King felt that Nicholson looked like he was plain nuts long before the evil of the place got to him.
He also thought Shelley Duvall was wrong for the film envisioning Wendy as a blonde cheerleader type.
But to be fair to Kubrick, King rarely has anything nice to say of any of the filmed adaptations of his books. The only films he seems to be entirely satisfied with are the ones directed by Frank Darabont – The Shawshank Redemption (1994), The Green Mile (1999) and The Mist (2007).
The Shining was filmed mostly on sound stages at Elstree studios, long shots of the exterior of the Overlook Hotel was filmed by the second unit at Mount Hood in Oregon, the Timberline Lodge stood in for the Overlook in these scenes.
There is no hedge maze at the actual location which is noticeable by its absence in the long shots. The exterior of the hotel was built full scale at Elstree for close shots.
One of the first films at the time to use the revolutionary Steadicam camera, the operator has the Steadicam camera strapped to a harness on his body and he can run through corridors or the Overlook maze and the shot stays steady and focused. And in sharp contrast today’s new filmmakers seem to favor the nausea-inducing “shaky-cam” technique.
“The Shining” refers to Danny’s psychic ability, his imaginary friend “Tony” shows Danny events in the past and future. At the end of the novel Tony tells Danny that he is an important part of him, we find out Danny’s middle name is Anthony. Tony is Danny a few years older, “like looking into a magic mirror and seeing himself in ten years".
Jack Torrance: Little pigs, little pigs, let me come in. Not by the hair of your chiny-chin-chin? Well then I'll huff and I'll puff, and I'll blow your house in.
One of the most famous moments in the film is when Jack Torrance is chopping at the door with an axe, peers through a hole, grins and yells “Heeere’s Johnny!” an ad-lib by Jack Nicholson. Living in England since the early 60’s Kubrick didn’t get the Carson Show reference and almost replaced it with something else. In 1980 Johnny Carson opened a special edition of the Tonight Show with that scene from the film.
Kubrick’s 17 year old daughter Vivian was on the set filming a fly-on-the-wall documentary on the making of the film which is included on the DVD and Blu-ray editions of The Shining. Vivian Kubrick can be spotted in 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) playing Heywood Floyd’s daughter.
The only special-effects shot in the film was a slow zoom down on to a model of the maze, which closes on a shot of Wendy and Danny walking around the real maze, which was only partially built full size.
Stephen King claimed that Kubrick would ring him up in the middle of the night and ask him questions like whether or not he believed in God.
Kubrick was a perfectionist and some scenes took many takes to shoot before he was satisfied, the scene where Wendy is threatening Jack with a baseball bat took dozens of takes, and Halloran (Scatman Crothers) explaining the “Shining” to Danny is said to have taken 148 takes, which may be a world record.
The scene where Jack kills Halloran with an axe took so many takes, Nicholson begged Kubrick to have pity on old Scatman who eventually broke down and started crying.
The movie ends on a tracking shot towards an old photo on the wall showing a 1920’s party at the Overlook with Jack Torrance in attendance. A real vintage photo was used with Jack Nicholson’s head airbrushed onto someone’s body.
The Shining was cut by 24 minutes in Europe, removing most of the chit-chat between Jack Nicholson and Barry Nelson at the start and other minor characters have been removed completely.
There is a hilarious parody of the film in The Simpsons episode Treehouse of Horror V (1994) a segment titled “The Shinning”. Homer is caretaker at Mr. Burns mansion, he flips and tries to murder his family with an axe.
“Stephen King’s The Shining” was a mini-series shown on TV in 1997, directed by Mick Garris and starring Steven Webber and Rebecca de Mornay. Three episodes and at 273 minutes in total it was more faithful to King’s novel but had none of the style or sheer terror of Kubrick’s film.
The Shining was ranked #29 on the American Film Institutes 100 Greatest Thrillers list, Jack Torrance #25 on the 50 Greatest Villains list and “Heeere’s Johnny!” #68 on the 100 Greatest Quotes List.
Martin Scorsese included the film in his 11 Scariest Movies of all time list, which also includes The Exorcist, The Innocents and Psycho.
The Shining took almost a year to film and cost $19m, it was successful at the box office grossing $44m in the U.S. but it wasn’t as popular as the similarly themed horror film The Amityville Horror released a year earlier, which went on to gross $86m in North America.
Critics reviews were mixed with many hating the film, time has been kinder to Stanley Kubrick’s film with some now calling The Shining a masterpiece of horror, much to Stephen King’s chagrin.
The Critics Wrote –
"With everything to work with, director Stanley Kubrick has teamed with jumpy Jack Nicholson to destroy all that was so terrifying about Stephen King’s bestseller . . . The crazier Nicholson gets, the more idiotic he looks. Shelley Duvall transforms the warm sympathetic wife of the book into a simpering, semi-retarded hysteric... The truly amazing question is why a director of Stanley Kubrick's stature would spend his time and effort on a novel that he changes so much it's barely recognizable, taking away whatever originality it possessed while emphasizing its banality." (Variety)
"Seldom in any film has there been such a blending of the manic and the comic... It makes previous horror pictures look pale and bloodless." (Alexander Walker, Evening Standard)
"The script abandons just about every element that makes Stephen King's novel so effectively atmospheric and horrific (including any believable explanation for 'the shining' itself), replacing it with a banal plot and dialogue to match which might just have passed muster for a run-of-the-mill supernatural second feature. Like all of Kubrick's work, it is technically impeccable and it is a total waste of time, talent and money." (Alan Frank)
"Meticulously detailed and never less than fascinating, The Shining may be the first movie that ever made its audience jump with a title that simply says "Tuesday." (Janet Maslin, New York Times)
"Though taken from a pulp best-seller, by Stephen King, the movie isn't the scary fun one might hope for from a virtuoso technician like Kubrick. It has a promising opening sequence, and there is some spectacular use of the Steadicam, but Kubrick isn't interested in the people on the screen as individuals. They are his archetypes, and he's using them to make a metaphysical statement about the timelessness of evil. He's telling us that man is a murderer through eternity." (Paulene Kael)
“A brilliant, ambitious attempt to shoot a horror film without the Gothic trappings of shadows and cobwebs so often associated with the genre.” (Steve Biodrowski, Cinefantastique)
“The Shining has somehow risen from the ashes of its own bad press to redefine itself not only as a seminal work of the genre, but perhaps the most stately, artful horror movie ever made.” (Peter Bracke, Hi-Def Digest)
More by this Author
A look back at William Friedkin's horror masterpiece, with facts, quotes, posters and photos.
A look back at a horror masterpiece, with facts, quotes, posters and photos.
A tribute to one of the great fantasy artists, Boris Vallejo.