Stand by Me (1986)


Stand by Me is a 1986 American coming of age adventure-drama film directed by Rob Reiner. Based on the novella The Body by Stephen King, the film takes its title from the song of the same name by Ben E. King (which plays during the closing credits).


The film is narrated by an adult Gordie LaChance, known as "The Writer" (Richard Dreyfuss), writing the memoir about his youth. Set in the fictional town of Castle Rock, Oregon, over Labor Day weekend in September 1959 young Gordie (Wil Wheaton) is a quiet, bookish boy with a penchant for telling stories and writing. He is rejected by his father, following the death of his football-star older brother Denny (John Cusack) in a jeep accident. Denny paid Gordie much more attention than his parents. Gordie spends his time with three friends. Chris Chambers (River Phoenix) is from a family of criminals and alcoholics, and he is usually stereotyped accordingly, even though he is different from the perceptions and stigmas attached to his family. Teddy Duchamp (Corey Feldman) is an eccentric boy, physically deformed after his mentally unstable father (whom Teddy sees as a war hero who "stormed the beach at Normandy") held his ear to a stove and nearly burned it off, thus forcing him to wear a hearing aid. Vern Tessio (Jerry O'Connell), overweight and timid, is easily scared, and thus often picked on. Gordie, Chris and Teddy learn from Vern that the dead body of a boy has been found. Apparently the boy was struck by a train while picking blueberries in the woods. It is believed to be the missing Ray Brower. While under his porch looking for his buried jar of pennies, Vern overheard his older brother (Casey Siemaszko) talking with his teenaged friends about finding the body while in the woods. The younger boys decide to embark upon a two-day journey near Castle Rock to see if they can find the body. They set out to find the body, first encountering Milo Pressman, when they pause to fill their canteens from a well located in his junkyard. They then walk across a train bridge and Vern and Gordie are nearly run over by a passing train. At the end of the day, the boys set up camp. Gordie tells the boys a story he had been thinking of lately. Later on in the night, Chris reveals to Gordie his fear of being stereotyped as a criminal and never making anything of himself. As they continue on they take a short-cut through a swamp only to discover that it is infested with leeches. While desperately removing them from each other, Gordie faints after finding one down his underpants, causing the other boys to wonder if they should go on. Gordie ends up being the decisive one, knowing that they have put in too much work not to see the body. They locate the boy's dead body, and it reminds Gordie that his father liked his brother better than him. Just then, Ace Merrill (Kiefer Sutherland) and his gang show up to take the body, but Gordie threatens him with a handgun that Chris had brought on the trip. They decide to leave the body and make an anonymous call to the police. The film ends with the boys returning home to Castle Rock and saying goodbye to each other. The Writer states that Vern later married straight out of high school, had children and became a fork-lift operator for a lumber company in Castle Rock. Teddy tried to join the military, but due to poor eyesight and his ear injury they refused to let him in. He eventually served jail time and now was doing odd-jobs around Castle Rock. Chris was able to stick it out and get by in the advanced classes with Gordie, and later moved out of Castle Rock and became a lawyer. However, The Writer reveals that Chris was recently stabbed and killed when he tried to break up a fight in a line at a fast food restaurant. The Writer then finishes his memoir and takes his son and his friend out swimming.