I have to keep reminding myself that I can compose offline in ecto. Oh, related to that: I really like ecto, and feel comfortable endorsing it and recommending it to anyone who is looking for a full-featured offline editor for their blog.
Anyway, I guess AMC ran Stand By Me on DVD TV last night. Apparently, I'm the only person in the world who didn't know about this, because I got tons of e-mail about it, and it appears that a lot of people who've never read my blog before are dropping by today to see what it's all about. That fills me with performance anxiety, and makes me wish I had one of those "my favorite posts" posts to point you to. Maybe my Best of 2006 entry (which was a cleverly disguised starting point for The Happiest Days of Our Lives ) or a story like Blue Light Special would give you an idea of what I typically blather on about on my particular section of the 'tubes.
OH! You know what I just thought? It would be totally cool -- well, cool for me, anyway -- if some readers wanted to leave links to their favorite posts in the comments. That way, I could, you know, lazyweb my way to a "readers favorites" post at some point in the future.
AMC has some really terrific blogs now, including a Sci-Fi blog that John Scalzi's contributing to. There's a post in their Future Classics blog that Stand By Me fans will probably enjoy about how Stephen King's childhood inspired Stand By Me.
I really wish I'd seen it, because I'm always interested to know if other people remember things the same way I did, and because it's really fun to know what else was going on outside of my 12 year-old acting bubble.
I guess they said that I was "upset" that Gordie never got his baseball cap back from Ace, which isn't entirely accurate. I remember asking Rob why Gordie didn't make Ace give him back his Yankees cap at the end of the movie, since it seemed like the sort of thing that should happen if Gordie and his friends "won." (This made perfect sense to me when I was 12.)
Rob said that Ace didn't keep the cap, and threw it away as soon as he walked around the corner. It wasn't about the cap, Rob told me, as much as it was about Ace being cruel.
I learned a lot about filmmaking and storytelling in that conversation with Rob, and I still feel its influence on my creative life.
AMC also said that Kiefer Sutherland was a bully to all of us in real life. I don't remember it that way at all, though I know Corey and Jerry have both said that he was pretty tough on them -- method acting, I guess. It was different for me; I was certainly intimidated by him, but I don't recall him going out of his way to be cruel or anything when the cameras weren't rolling. In fact, my two clearest memories of him are being afraid that he was going to accidentally burn River's face with the cigarette near the beginning of the movie, and that he wanted me to point the gun straight at his face near the end of the movie, which made me nervous, even though it wasn't loaded.
Okay, one more memory and then I really have to get back to work: In that final scene, when Gordie pulls the gun on Ace, my instinct was to yell at him, like I was trying to intimidate him (again, this made sense when I was 12.) Rob let me rehearse it that way, and then he very calmly pulled me aside and asked me to try it again, but to keep my voice quieter. "Let the gun do the talking," he said. "It's more powerful."
I was 12, so I said that I thought I should do it my way. (Ah, the impertinence of youth, how glad I am to be rid of it.) Rob nodded patiently and said, "Okay, listen to this." He took a few steps away, and pointed his finger at my face. "No, Ace, just you," he said. Gravely, quietly, seriously.
Then, he pulled that finger back and held it up.
"Now," he said, "listen to this." He took a deep breath, pointed his finger at my face again, and screamed, "NO ACE JUST YOU!"
His voice echoed off the river, as he asked, "Which one is scarier? Which one is stronger?"
I laughed nervously. "It's scarier when you yell at me, but it's stronger to be quiet, which is guess is scarier if you're Ace." I said.
"So let's try it that way," he said, kindly.
People always give me credit for being great in that movie. The truth is, I don't think I deserve as much credit for it as I'm frequently given. I think back on my limited experience and my silly ideas, and then I see what a magnificent performance Rob Reiner coaxed out of me. The difference is striking.
Stand By Me is a classic film because of Jane Jenkins and Janet Hirshenson, who cast it, Rob Reiner,who directed it, Andy Scheinman, who produced it, and Ray Gideon and Bruce Evans, who wrote it. I was really good at taking direction, so I'll take a little credit for that, but all of us were standing on the shoulders of giants.