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The Shining, and Shelley Duvall

The Shining is a masterpiece horror, but Shelley Duvall, who plays Wendy Torrance had to go through a lot of stress while filming the climactic scene where Jack is attempting to hit her with a baseball bat as she ascends the stairs of the Overlook Hotel. To capture the character’s distress and fear, director Stanley Kubrick retook the scene multiple times, and made the actress feel distressed and isolated on set. Although this lead to capturing a powerful scene, where do we draw the line in our quest for making a masterpiece?

  • An interesting idea that's worth exploring. A lot of the old classic movies have harsh treatments of their stars, especially the female actors, behind the scenes that would be completely inappropriate and condemned if it were to happen now. – kerrybaps 6 months ago
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  • I agree with kerrybaps. Certainly worth exploring, especially as many people have no idea that such treatment is still happening. There are certain directors who attain an almost god-like status and sometimes that power can go to their heads. Although I've never been repeated threatened with a baseball bat on set, I did work as an extra on one particular film during which we 'underlings' we left exposed to the elements for so long that three of us were eventually removed from set, suffering from early stages of hypothermia - and all because a certain director needed us to look exhausted, ragged and frozen. Unfortunately, in the film world even actresses of the same calibre as Shelley Duvall are all too aware that they can be replaced, and so feel pressurised into accepting such treatment. It's a dirty world. – Amyus 6 months ago
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  • This feels like a nitpick but was it not Wendy who wielded the baseball bat in that scene? It also wasn't just that one scene either. Shelly Duvall was isloated throughout the entirety of the shoot in Kubric's effort to get her portrayal of a beaten-down, broken woman. The cast was informed to not interact with her and she was also kept from sleeping so that she would be sleep deprived. This extends well beyond the stairwell scene where Jack Torrence tells her he wants to bash her brains in and this topic should be explored in regards to the whole film and Kubrics methods. l I might consider exploring beyond just The Shining. Alfred Hitchcock was a monstrous creep towards his female cast members as well. Perhaps this topic could evolve into a discussion about the mistreatment of women in the film industry as a whole. – FarPlanet 6 months ago
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  • This is an interesting idea. Are there are other actresses, besides Duvall, where something like this has been done? Has it been done to actors or only actresses? – Joseph Cernik 4 months ago
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