Stanley Kubrick Almost Axed The Shining’s Most Iconic Line As He Didn’t Get It

Stanley Kubrick Almost Axed The Shining’s Most Iconic Line As He Didn’t Get It
Image credit: Legion-Media

Few people know that the most famous line of the main character is an improvisation by Jack Nicholson, which the director didn't like at first.

The caretaker of a mountain hotel closed for the winter goes mad and decides to kill his wife and child. A woman and a boy are locked in the bathroom. She pushes her son out the window, but can't get out herself.

Meanwhile, the madman is shredding the wooden door with a fire axe. When he manages to cut a large hole, he sticks his head in and triumphantly announces, "Here's Johnny!"

While researchers and moviegoers still often discuss Stanley Kubrick's The Shining, the directors quote it constantly. Most often, the legendary scene with the axe and "Here's Johnny!" appears in other movies. But few know that this episode itself is entirely composed of quotes.

For example, cutting through the door with an axe is a regular occurrence in the movies, and the loud "Here's Johnny!" Nicholson borrowed from the famous talk show The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, which ran on the US television from 1962 to 1992.

At the same time, Kubrick, who lived in England for a long time, did not know what these words meant, and at first wanted to cut Nicholson's improvisation from the movie, since he had a lot of other takes.

Stanley Kubrick Almost Axed The Shining’s Most Iconic Line As He Didn’t Get It - image 1

After all, the Jack Nicholson cut through 60 doors with different grimaces and remarks. In the end, Nicholson convinced the director, and according to some sources, the line remained in the movie only because Kubrick had no idea where it originally came from.

Kubrick proved once again that the great director not only gives wise orders, but also knows when to listen to talented subordinates.

The Shining was completed and released in 1980. It was greeted with outrage by King's fans and the author himself, and received a lot of scepticism from critics.

Unlike almost all of Kubrick's other films, it was not nominated for any Oscars or Golden Globes. Instead, it received two Golden Raspberries nominations. The movie seemed to fail.

However, it recouped its $19 million budget and eventually acquired an army of fans. Among them were fans of King, who realized that numerous deviations from the text did not prevent Kubrick from making a full-fledged and frightening horror film, artistically head and shoulders above most competitors.

Today, The Shining is considered a classic, and film scholars still write about it.

Source: Slash Film