The Shawshank Redemption is one of the most well-known and beloved movies ever made. Although it was under-appreciated at the time of its initial release (it was a box office bomb and didn't win even one of the seven Academy awards it was nominated for), it has gone on to become one of the most universally-admired movies of all time.
Anyone who owns a TV and has cable has probably seen The Shawshank Redemption at least once (if not half a dozen times or more). Even so, this long and sprawling prison epic has a lot of specific details hidden away in it; details that even the more eagle-eyed viewer is bound to miss. Let's take a look at some of them!
10 Maybe It's Because I'm Irish
Andy and Red have a friendship that is the stuff of legend. At one point during their many conversations, Andy asks about the origins of Red's nickname. Presumably, it's because of his last name (his full name is Ellis Boyd Redding), but when Red replies to his question, he jokes that "maybe it's because I'm Irish."
Obviously, it's meant to be a wisecrack, but there is a deeper meaning behind the line as well. Although Morgan Freeman plays Red in the movie, the character in the original novella is an Irishman. Frank Darabont just had his heart set on Freeman starring in the role and changed this little detail specifically for him.
9 Frank Darabont's Hands
This actually seems to be something that a few different directors do, but in the case of The Shawshank Redemption, Frank Darabont took the place of Tim Robbins when they were doing shots that were close-ups on his hands.
Darabont had some very specific ideas on how he wanted the scenes to look, so he performed the actions himself instead of having Robbins do so. This was only done for two different actions, though: one shot was a close-up of Andy's hand loading a revolver and the other was a close-up of him carving his name into the cell wall.
8 A Little Low On The Ladies
In all fairness, The Shawshank Redemption is a film set in a men's prison, so it's not an enormous surprise that the bulk of the characters and actors are made up of men too. In this movie that clocks in at nearly two and a half hours long, though, there are actually only two female speaking roles throughout the entire production.
Unsurprisingly, those two characters are just bit parts. The first character is a woman who complains about Brooks' service at the grocery store, and the second woman helps serve Andy at the bank after he's escaped from Shawshank prison.
7 The Rights Stuff
Although it's one of the most famous movies of all time now, The Shawshank Redemption actually bombed upon its initial release. It started being more successful after it was released on video, but one of the keys to its success was undoubtedly the fact that it seemed to be playing on cable television on a nearly constant basis.
Film and TV mogul Ted Turner sold the rights of the film to TNT for a much lower price than was standard, and it was in constant rotation on the cable network because it was just insanely inexpensive for them to air.
6 A Real Prison On The Outside, Sound Stage On The Inside
It's not that unusual for a production to use real life exteriors for some scenes and then use a sound stage to film the interior scenes, but in the case of The Shawshank Redemption, it's for a somewhat atypical reason. The exterior scenes were filmed at the old Ohio State Reformatory, a prison that hadn't been in use for quite a while.
Originally, the plan was to shoot inside of the prison as well, but the interior of the facility was so dilapidated that it was actually less expensive to shoot it on sound stages than to renovate the building itself.
5 Ohio Played Stand In For Maine
Stephen King is one of the most creative and prolific writers in the history of fiction. However, the vast majority of his stories do have one common thread running through them: almost everything that he writes is set in his home state of Maine.
The same goes for The Shawshank Redemption, but the movie itself was filmed in Ohio. The location isn't particularly relevant in terms of the visuals, though. The empty surroundings of any typical prison certainly make it much easier to find a suitable exterior set for a prison movie.
4 Rita Hayworth
Rita Hayworth (and the others who take up residence on Andy's walls) are a significant part of the storyline itself. So significant, in fact, that the original novella that was the source material for the movie was actually titled Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption.
Director Frank Darabont decided to shorten the title and remove Rita Hayworth's name, because he didn't want people to assume that the film was about the actress herself. However, before the film went into production, Darabont still got a lot of solicitations from actresses who wanted to audition for the "role" of Rita Hayworth.
3 Room 237
In any Stephen King work or adaptation of a King work, it's very common to find references to other creations by Stephen King. The Shawshank Redemption is no different. In the movie, Red's cell number is 237, which also happens to be the number of the room in the Overlook Hotel where Danny has that encounter in The Shining.
That's only in the novel, though. In the Stanley Kubrick film, the room number where the creepy lady resides is changed to 217. It's unclear why Kubrick made the change, if there was a reason for changing it at all.
2 Location, Location, Location
Although the story of The Shawshank Redemption is ostensibly about Andy Dufresne's escape from Shawshank prison, this sprawling and epic tale is ultimately about much more than that. However, the great escape of Andy Dufresne could just as easily not have happened.
Andy digging a tunnel out of Shawshank and finally being free is one of the most cathartic scenes in movie history, but that could have never happened if Andy had wound up in one of the many other cells in Shawshank prison. Had he just been one cell over, the only place to dig would have been into another cell, foiling his plans completely. It was all due to chance and his privileged position.
1 Towering Tim Robbins
It can be hard to gauge the height of an actor when you're just seeing them on a screen, especially since camera trickery and the blocking of scenes can be used to make certain actors look bigger or smaller. Because Tim Robbins stands at an exceptionally tall 6 foot 5 inches, though, the cast and crew in some instances had to be chosen based on his height alone.
For instance, Andy stealing the warden's suit is a key element of the story line, so the actor who played him had to be nearly as tall as Tim.