Monday, December 16, 2013

Opportunity Knocked on a Door That Shouldn't Have Been There

Jack Torrance’s “Heeerrreee’s Johnny!” head-poke through an ax-split door in 1978's The Shining is one of the iconic images in modern cinema and certainly the most identifiable on-screen moment of Jack Nicholson’s long and lauded career. But this classic scene would have been even better had the doorway instead been covered by a multi-colored curtain just like the one that Johnny Carson pawed through every weeknight at the start of The Tonight Show.

Many homes in the 1970s featured doorways adorned with tapestry dividers or hanging beads instead of doors, and the psychotic Jack Torrance popping his head through a vertically striped curtain of orange, pink, brown, beige, gold, and two shades of blue would have truly added cinematic provenance to this frighteningly comic moment.

True, Nicholson ad-libbed this legendary line, but once such a great idea was out of the bag, there’s no reason that Stanley Kubrick—notorious in Hollywood for shooting excessive takes—couldn’t have had an intern run out to a local linen store, order a replica Tonight Show curtain, and instructed Nicholson to redo the scene with the proper prop.

Frankly, I’m more than a little surprised that Kubrick—one of the most visionary filmmakers ever to step behind a camera and a renowned obsessive for detail—overlooked this opportunity.

Then again, Kubrick did have the good sense to cast Shelley Duvall rather than Robert Duvall as Jack Torrance’s wife, Wendy...

(Image from The Shining copyright Warner Brothers; image from The Tonight Show copyright NBC.)

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