In June of 1985 a young film director trying to prove himself brought four unknown child actors and an entire film crew to Eugene. For seven weeks they stayed at the Hilton, first to give acting classes to the young actors, and then to film on location, an adaptation of Stephen King’s novella, “The Body.” A coming-of-age story set in 1959.
Today, people know the movie as Stand By Me. It was a movie that transformed the careers of director Rob Reiner and the four lead actors – Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, and Jerry O’Connell.
Living in Cottage Grove, where many of the movie’s railroad scenes were filmed, I know how fun it is to watch the movie and see places I am familiar with, such as the railroad bridge the boys cross as the start of their adventure. It is now easily accessible as part of the Row River Trail. However, most of the scenes were filmed in Brownsville which became the fictitious Castle Rock.
A couple years ago, I became infatuated with the movie and drove to Brownsville to see the filming sites and talk with local expert Linda McCormick, Chair of their annual Stand By Me Day Celebration. Life changed in Brownsville for the filming: all modern features, like phone booths and garbage cans, were removed, stores signs were covered over, and cars built before 1960 were detoured around town. Local residents were recruited to be extras, especially as audience members for the pie eating contest.
To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the movie, Brownsville is hosting a special “Stand By Me Day” on Saturday July 23rd with a Classic Car and Vintage Trailer Show, an outdoor showing of the movie, guided walking tours, a meet and greet with cast and crew, and, of course, a pie eating contest (for more information visit www.standbymeday.com). A lot has changed since 1985 when Stand By Me was made, however, downtown Brownsville retains its old-time character, and for Stand By Me fans, that means many of the film sites are still intact and immediately recognizable.
If you’re a Stand By Me fan, here’s a pretty good list of filming locations throughout Lane and Linn counties that you can tour on your way to the celebration (http://thennowmovielocations.blogspot.com/2012/10/stand-by-me.html).