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The Making Of 'The Shining' Was A Bigger Nightmare Than The Film's Story

Voting Rules

Vote up the most intriguing stories from the making of Stanley Kubrick's horror classic.

All kinds of horrific events occur in Stanley Kubrick's The Shiningbut the madness didn't end when the cameras stopped rolling. In fact, the horrors that took place behind the scenes may have helped to make the on-screen insanity feel more palpable for viewers. 

Adapting Stephen King's story took a toll on all involved, and there are plenty of stories about making The Shining that sound absolutely excruciating. Combine a notoriously obsessive director, a major star tackling a challenging role, and some complex visual imagery, and you're in for a remarkably taxing year of filming. Kubrick, Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, and the rest of the cast and crew survived a real-life nightmare to deliver one of the best horror movies ever made.

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  • 1
    6 VOTES

    Stanley Kubrick Drove Scatman Crothers To Tears

    Scatman Crothers has a small but pivotal role in The Shining; he plays Dick Hallorann, the Overlook Hotel's psychic cook. Although the actor has since praised Stanley Kubrick for his directorial skills, the two had at least one tense moment while on-set. For the scene in which Hallorann shows Danny and Wendy around the hotel kitchen, Kubrick demanded an endless string of takes. Around take 85, a frustrated and exhausted Crothers broke down in tears. He reportedly pleaded, "What do you want, Mr. Kubrick? What do you want?" 

    6 votes
  • 2
    6 VOTES

    A Secretary Had To Type One Phrase Onto Hundreds Of Pieces Of Paper

    The clue that proves Jack Torrance has gone mad is revealed when his wife Wendy peeks at the book he has allegedly been working on. Instead of finding a manuscript, she sees hundreds and hundreds of pieces of paper bearing the same sentence: "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy."

    Stanley Kubrick wanted the scene to be visually unsettling, which meant that the audience had to see writing on a large number of pages. His personal secretary, Margaret Warrington, was instructed to type that phrase onto 500 of pieces of paper. (And then she had to do it again in four different languages to account for foreign releases of the film!) The task was undoubtedly grueling, and it took months to accomplish, yet it adds immeasurably to the impact of the scene.

    6 votes
  • 3
    6 VOTES

    Kubrick Required A Ludicrous Number Of Takes

    Stanley Kubrick knew what he wanted, and he didn't stop until he got it. Doing multiple takes of scenes is common on movie sets, but Kubrick took things to a whole new level. The shot of Shelley Duvall waving a baseball bat in front of Jack Nicholson required 127 tries for the director to feel satisfied. Another shot, in which Scatman Crothers explains his character's ability to "shine" to child actor Danny Lloyd, was done 148 times.

    6 votes
  • 4
    6 VOTES

    The Real Hotel Wouldn't Let Kubrick Use Room 217

    The exterior of the fictional Overlook Hotel is actually the Timberline Lodge, located in Mount Hood, OR. It was chosen for its snowy location and suitably atmospheric look.

    Before the hotel's owner agreed to let Stanley Kubrick feature his establishment, he made one specific request. The script called for some scary things to take place in Room 217, and they asked Kubrick not to use that number, as they were worried that guests would be too scared to stay in the room if they'd seen the movie. The director agreed, using "Room 237" instead, since that room number didn't really exist at the Timberline Lodge.

    6 votes
  • 5
    10 VOTES

    Shelley Duvall Said Working With Kubrick Was Unbearable

    Stanley Kubrick was notoriously hard on his actors. Some tolerated his obsessive quest for perfection, but others crumbled under the weight of his expectations. Unfortunately, Shelley Duvall fell into the latter category. 

    Roughly six months after the film was released in 1980, Duvall told film critic Roger Ebert that working with Kubrick was "almost unbearable," due to the excessive number of takes he required for even the most simple of shots. She added, "I had to cry 12 hours a day, all day long, the last nine months straight, five or six days a week. I was there a year and a month."

    Additionally, Duvall felt that once the film was released, all the attention was focused on the director and her co-star, Jack Nicholson, and that her work was largely overlooked. 

    10 votes
  • 6
    4 VOTES

    Jack Nicholson Slept On The Floor In Between Scenes

    Pretending to slowly descend into lunacy can be tiring, and Jack Nicholson expended a lot of energy conveying his character's unraveling. In 2015, Louise Burns, who plays one of the Grady daughters, told The Independent that Nicholson was so exhausted, he would fall asleep on the floor in between scenes. According to Burns: 

    They were extremely long days and I think Stanley would have had Jack work until the matchsticks fell out of his eyes, so he needed to nap between scenes.

    4 votes