10 Surprising Facts About the Movie "The Shining"

Is all work and no play making you a dull boy/girl? Then take some time away from spreadsheets and office malaise to learn 10 surprising facts about Stanley Kubrick's haunting cinematic rendition of Stephen King's The Shining.  

10. Stephen King Wrote A First Draft of the Screenplay 

Did you know that Stephen King wrote an entire draft of a screenplay for The Shining? According to one of Kubrick's biographers, Kubrick had such a low opinion of King's writing that he didn't even deem the draft worth reading. On one occasion, Kubrick went so far as to call King’s writing “weak.” Kubrick chose to work with Diane Johnson on the screenplay because he was a fan of her book, The Shadow Knows; the screenplay took eleven weeks to produce. 

9. The Timberline Lodge Requested that Room 217 was Switched to Room 237

If you've read the book, you'll know that the spooky events are set in Room 217, not Room 237. The reason for the swap is because the Timberline Lodge’s management (where the exterior shots of the movie were filmed) asked for the room number to be changed so that guests wouldn’t avoid wanting to stay in Room 217. The number 237 was chosen for the movie because the Timberline Lodge does not have a room 237. The website of The Timberline Lodge notes, “Curiously and somewhat ironically, room #217 is requested more often than any other room at Timberline.”

8. Kubrick Typed All of Those “All Work” Pages

There is a rumor that Kubrick individually typed all 500 pages of “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” What is known is that Kubrick didn’t go to the prop department with this task, but instead he decided to use his own typewriter to make the pages. The typewriter Kubrick used had built-in memory, so it's possible Kubrick didn't type every single page himself, but the individual pages in the film contain different layouts and mistakes, so it appears that each page must have been individually prepared. Alas, we’ll never know the truth— Kubrick never addressed this question before he died.

7. There's A Hidden Playgirl Magazine in the Movie

Kubrick has a reputation for being a very detail-oriented director. Therefore, when Jack Torrance reads a Playgirl in the lobby of the Overlook before he gets hired, it must mean something. In that particular issue he was reading, there was an article about incest. The most common theory is that Kubrick subtly implied that Danny may have experienced sexual abuse. Another article advertised on the cover is “Interview: The Selling of (Starsky & Hutch’s) David Soul.” Perhaps Kubrick was throwing in some extra foreshadowing. Whatever the case, hotels generally do not leave copies of Playgirl lying around for guests to read in their public spaces. Thus, the magazine must have some significance with regard to how the plot unfolds.  

6. Young Dan Lloyd Didn't Know He Was Filming A Horror Film

Kubrick told Dan, who was 5  years old during the filming, that they were making a drama rather than a horror film in order to protect him. Kubrick even left Dan out of particular scenes that could have affected the way he reacted to different characters in order for Dan to retain his innocence throughout the film. Dan didn’t even see the actual film until he was 16 or 17 years old. When asked later about it, he said, “I just personally don’t find it scary because I saw it behind the scenes. I know it might be kind of ironic, but I like funny films and documentaries.” 

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5. Jack Nicholson Improvised the Line, “Heeeere’s Johnny.”

Did you know that the most iconic quote from The Shining wasn't even in the script? While filming the scene in which Jack breaks down a bathroom door with an axe, Nicholson shouted out the famous Ed McMahon line from The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. The catch phrase worked and stayed in the film. This is the only line from The Shining that made it onto AFI’s Top 100 Movie Quotes. 

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4. Shelley Duvall and Stanley Kubrick Did Not Get Along

True to his character, Kubrick decided to create real terror and anguish in Shelley Duvall. He was rude to her many times, ignoring many of her complaints, and going out of his way to make her feel separated and isolated on set. Whereas Kubrick would be very friendly and relaxed with Jack,  he would be stern and dismissive towards Duvall. It's rumored that Kubrick even had the hot water turned off in Shelly's room at one point, causing her to always be cold and shivering on set. Shelly describes the time: “From May until October I was really in and out of ill health because the stress of the role was so great. Stanley pushed me and prodded me further than I’ve ever been pushed before. It’s the most difficult role I’ve ever had to play.” 

3. Much of the set Burned Down

Near the end of shooting The Shining, a fire broke out and destroyed many of the film sets. According to the set still photographer, “It was a huge fire in there one night, massive fire, we never really discovered what caused that fire and it burned down two sound stages and threatened a third at Elstree Studios. It was an eleven alarm fire call, it was huge.” The rebuild of one of these sound stages cost an estimated $2.5 million. There’s a famous picture of Kubrick laughing in front of this wreckage. Perhaps he’s laughing because he knows the novel ends with The Overlook Hotel burning down.

2. 900 Tons of Salt Were Used to Make the Film

And that was just for the final scene! At the end of The Shining, Jack chases young Danny through a snow-covered hedge maze before finally dying. To create the elaborate, wintery maze, it took a lot of salt and crushed Styrofoam.

1. No Electricity

Have you noticed that nothing is plugged in throughout the entire movie. Kubrick consciously did this in order to increase the feeling of the supernatural, and add to the sub-conscious eeriness of the film. Kubrick had holes drilled in some of the tables, and hollowed out the legs so any power cords could be run through them, and plugged in under the floor, below the set. Same goes for all the lamps and chandeliers. Kubrick wanted to subliminally create the feeling that the Overlook powers itself.