Friday, December 29, 2017

"Stand By Me" (1986) -- Guest Post by Jessica Prescott

(Note from Hamlette:  Thanks so much for contributing this post to the blogathon, Jessica!  You've definitely made me want to see this movie.)


“What are you gonna do?  Shoot us all?” 
“No, Ace.  Just you.” 


Man, I love this movie. 

Stand By Me is my story.  And Gordie LaChance is my hero.  Maybe that’s a little weird—maybe a film about four (slightly) foul-mouthed 12-year-olds in rural postwar Oregon isn’t supposed to resonate with me on this level—but, as the immortal Chris Chambers himself says, “So what, man?  Everybody’s weird.” 


This movie’s such a classic, you probably already know what it’s about.  At the tail end of summer vacation, Gordie LaChance and his three closest pals—Chris, Vern, and Teddy—head into the woods to find a missing classmate’s dead body.  They’re vaguely hoping for some reward money, and maybe their pictures in the local paper . . . but, as their long, slow trek wears on, with laughter and song and a few exciting clashes with the neighborhood bullies in the bargain, our young hero Gordie begins to fall into a dark, dangerous place inside. 

You see, Gordie knows something about death.  His older brother died a few months back—a car accident; and the memories still haunt him.  There’s a heartbreaking dream sequence, towards the middle of the film, where Gordie hears his father say clearly, “It should’ve been you, Gordie.”  Bad enough, if it were just a dream—but Gordie knows it’s not.  His own father truly does wish it had been his younger son who died in that crash.  Not his older one.  Not his All-American football star with a shot at a college scholarship.  He never asked to be left with the shy bookworm and dreamy budding writer that is Gordie LaChance; and he doesn’t try to hide his anger. 

It hurts. 

The bewilderment, the guilt—it’s written all over Gordie’s face; it underlies every move that he makes.  Vern and Teddy may not notice, but Chris does.  And we do.  As the story plods lazily forward, the tension builds, and builds, and builds . . . until they finally find the dead boy’s body in the woods.  And that’s when it all comes pouring out. 

Gordie sinks down onto a nearby fallen tree—sobs shaking his skinny, 12-year-old body, tears trickling down his face.  “It should’ve been me.”  Talk about child actors all you want; Will Wheaton beats them all hollow with just this one scene.  Meanwhile, Chris—sweet, gentle Chris, played to starry-eyed perfection by a very young River Phoenix—puts an arm around his shoulders and tries to comfort his friend.  “Don’t say that, man.”  Gordie can’t stop crying:  “He hates me . . . my dad hates me.”  Chris’ response is one of the finest lines of the entire movie: 

“He doesn’t hate you, man.  He just doesn’t know you.” 


That’s when the bullies show up again. 

They’ve been making a nuisance of themselves throughout the whole journey; but it’s worse this time. They want the reward money, you see.  When they find our four boys in the woods, with the body, they assume it’ll be a walk in the park to scare off the competition—and they get angry when they find out it’s not. 


Ace (the gang leader) pulls out a switchblade and points it at the kids.  Vern runs off.  Teddy sasses Ace, then follows Vern.  Chris holds his ground, tells the bully in specific and colorful terms where exactly he can go and what he can do . . . and just as Ace jumps on him with the switchblade, a gun goes off.

It’s Gordie.  He’s standing there, on his own two feet, pointing a .45 straight at Ace Merrill’s heart, and the muzzle barely wavers a single hair—because this kid has guts of steel and if you think you know his limits, you’re wrong. 


“You’re not taking him, Ace.  Nobody’s taking him.” 

Do you see why the boy is my hero?   

He’s someone who can go from sobbing his eyes out over his father’s rejection, one moment, and then standing up like a girder of iron for someone who can’t protect himself the next.  Maybe the world hates him, and maybe the world just doesn’t know him.  Maybe the world thinks he’s a sissy.  But that won’t stop him from doing what’s right when the time comes.  Those tears come from his heart; and that courage comes from his heart, too. 

He’s Gordie LaChance.  He’s my inspiration. 


How about you?  

19 comments:

  1. Thanks so much for contributing this post, Jessica! Between you and DKoren, I've been convinced I need to see this at long last.

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    1. Wonderful!!! I'm so glad--because it is SUCH a great film, I really think everybody in the world needs to see it.

      Thank you for letting me contribute! I had a great time writing this :-)

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  2. Wow! This is a movie that's been on my watch list for ages, but I haven't gotten around to it. Shame on me. You moved me deeply with your article.

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    1. Aw, really? Thank you!! I'm so glad I made you want to watch it. It's simply breathtaking.

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  3. Yes yes and yes. This is a great post. I love this movie for many of the reasons you state. And just as Gordie was your hero, Chris Chambers was mine. :-D

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    1. Thank you!!

      I love Chris so much, too <3

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  4. I need to watch this ASAP. :)

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  5. Can you believe I have never seen this? So many great stars in it, and what a story. Need to on demand it immediately thanks to your great overview!
    - Chris

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    1. Thank you!! I'm really glad I made you want to see it--I hope you enjoy it as much as I did :-)

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  6. Wowzers! Excellently written, m'dear! (Not that that's surprising . . . )

    I don't know if this is my kind of story, but I'm glad it touched you the way it did. <3 Did you grow up with it, or was it a recent find, or . . . ?

    I remember that quote you put in a comment one time, something like: "It's like God gave you this, man, and He was like, 'Here's what we got for you, kid, try not to lose it.'" <3 <3 <3 That's such a great line, and I remember it being really helpful to me when you sent it. :)

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    1. Awwwwww--thank you!! <3

      No, I only just watched it last summer, I think! It Grabbed Me very quickly, though ;-)

      YES. Oh my word--I love that quote so very much. Chris Chambers has so many good lines in this movie, it's a little dazzling when you first watch it . . . And I'm glad it helped you <333 It helped me a lot.

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  7. My first comment must've got lost in the clouds. Just wanted to say, I remember going to this movie back when it first hit the theaters. Stephen King's "Different Seasons" produced two fantastic movies; this one and "The Shawshank Redemption", and one acceptable but not great one; "Apt Pupil". I'm still waiting for them to give "The Breathing Method" a try, but I think it's probably going to have to be a TV episode or something... Too bad "Amazing Stories" is no longer on the air.

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    1. Oh wow! That's so cool, that you remember it from when it was first released! I only just watched it last summer, actually. But it's such an amazing story, I couldn't help but love it immediately.

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  8. Oh this sounds really good! I'd never heard of it before! (Maybe because it's an American movie...?)

    And it was very well written. :)

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    1. Thank you, Gabby!! :-) It IS a great movie--it's an American classic, honestly. But yeah, maybe they just don't talk about it much in Australia? I don't know . . .

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  9. I watched this for the first time a couple of years ago, and was surprised by how moving it is. I agree completely re: Gordie LaChance. He really is a hero.

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    1. Yes, he is!! I know--it's such a powerful film, far more powerful than you'd think just from the description.

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  10. You have made this movie sound like one I must watch. I'm almost in tears just sitting here reading your review.

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Agree or disagree? That is the question...

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