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Story Notes for The Shawshank Redemption

Monday through Thursday at 8PM | 7C, AMC presents Story Notes — real-time on-air trivia about your favorite movies. Tonight’s movie was The Shawshank Redemption.

Automotive Notes
Even though the movie takes place in 1966, the character Andy drives a 1969 GTO.

Award Notes
Morgan Freeman was nominated for an Oscar, a Golden Globe, and a SAG Award for his role.

Biography Notes
Frank Darabont, an established writer, had only directed two things before this. One was The Woman in the Room, a short film based on another Stephen King story.

Morgan Freeman was in two other prison movies before this: Brubaker and Attica (TV).

Most people recognize actor Bob Gunton for this role as the warden of Shawshank.

Clancy Brown isn’t always mean. He’s the voice of Mr. Krabs on SpongeBob SquarePants.

Both James Whitmore and William Sadler are well known for being in horror shows. Whitmore was in The Twilight Zone and Sadler was in Tales from the Crypt.

Brian Libby (Floyd) is in the Frank Darabont/Stephen King movies The Green Mile and The Mist, too.

Actor Bob Gunton can be pretty intimidating. He often plays military figures. In real life, he earned a Bronze Star for valor in the U.S. Army.

Empire magazine (UK) lists Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins among “The Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time.”

At 6′ 5″, Tim Robbins is the tallest actor to ever win an Oscar (at least as of 2011).

Casting Notes
In 1994, Tim Robbins was best known for his roles in Bull Durham and The Player.

You may recognize Jeffrey DeMunn (the prosecutor) as Dale from The Walking Dead.

This was Morgan Freeman’s first time narrating a movie. He went on to narrate several more, including War of the Worlds and March of the Penguins.

William Sadler plays Heywood. The director liked him in Tales from the Crypt. They worked together again on The Green Mile, another prison-based Stephen King story.

Mark Rolston plays the creepy guy, Bogs. When he came in to audition, the director said, “Oh my god, it’s Drake from Aliens!”

James Whitmore plays Brooks. He’s famous for fighting giant ants in the old scifi movie Them!

Clancy Brown (Capt. Hadley) was approached by real-life prison guards who offered to advise him. He turned them down since his character is more of a villain than a real guard.

What’s in a name? Gil Bellows plays Tommy Williams, but in Ally McBeal, he played Billy Thomas; the same name, inverted.

Rumor has it Brad Pitt was up for the role of Tommy Williams. He got his chance to work with Morgan Freeman the following year in Se7en.

Stephen King and director Frank Darabont disagreed about the actor who plays Floyd. King said he looks like Neville Brand and Darabont said he looks like Lee Marvin.

Finance Notes
The Shawshank Redemption was made for a relatively low $25 million.

History Notes
Allegedly, the prison where Shawshank filmed was shut down for cruel and inhuman punishment.

Location Notes
The story takes place in Maine, but the prison depicted is in Mansfield, Ohio. It was scheduled for demolition when production began.

Music Notes
While he was writing the screenplay, Darabont was getting into opera. When he felt “trapped” in the writing process, Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro would lift his spirits.

Thomas Newman (American Beauty, Finding Nemo) composed the music for this movie. The director says it’s one of the most imitated soundtracks.

Pop-culture Notes
The Stephen King short story this is based on is about the enduring powers of hope and friendship.

The name “Randall Stevens” is a nod to author Stephen King. Randall Flagg is the villain in his book, The Stand.

According to the director, Raquel Welch loves this movie.

Stephen King’s one criticism of the movie was that Andy’s tunnel is too round. The director says he compared it to a Wile E. Coyote tunnel.

This movie is consistently ranked at the top of the IMDb Top 250.

Plot Notes
This movie and The Count of Monte Cristo both deal with corruption and redemption.

Quote Notes
The director praises the chemistry of the actors and how they “really bonded as a unit.”

Random Notes
“Fish” is prison slang for a new arrival, a first-timer to jail.

Script Notes
Some actresses wanted to audition for the role of Rita Hayworth. They clearly hadn’t read the script.

Every week while filming, the director drew inspiration for voice-overs from GoodFellas.

In Stephen King’s story, there are only two paragraphs on Brooks.

Set Notes
This movie came out in 1994, three years after Rodney King’s brutal beating by the LAPD. The filmmakers staged one of the scenes specifically with Rodney King in mind.

Remember the scenes with snow? They’re actually potato flakes!

Tim Robbins handpicked the photos that decorated his cell.

A real prison cell would be too small to fit camera equipment and a crew. A set with removable walls was used instead.

Tim Robbins asked to be locked in solitary for a while to get a feel for it. He knew his experience wouldn’t be the same because it was voluntary.

The cell doors were controlled by an air pressure system. They could open 200 doors at once.

A local chemist tested the creek water in one of the scenes and said it was toxic. Tim Robbins just asked that a hot shower be ready nearby.

Symbolism Notes
Think about all the water shown in some scenes. Water is often a symbol of salvation.

Tech Notes
Morgan’s voice-over was all pre-recorded and brought to the set. When filming, they timed their lines to blend with his voice-over.

Trivia Notes
The Shawshank Redemption was not an immediate hit when it came out in 1994, but by the next year, it had become the No. 1 most rented movie of the year.

Every society has its own form of currency: In Shawshank, it’s cigarettes.

This story was originally called “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption.” They changed the name of the movie so people wouldn’t confuse it for a biopic.

Maine actually does get tornadoes. A couple touched down in early June, 2011.

Mexico is a popular destination for American fugitives.

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