Film and Television in The Shining



Just to note: I originally wrote this after writing the sections on artworks and books, with the idea that I should skip anything I’d already covered in those sections, like all the Disney stuff. I may one day add those back to here. But for now, they exist only elsewhere.

Also, if you’re especially interested in the phenomenon of the screen media in the film, I did a breakdown of the various time codes these videos appear at in the film, and what the time codes are from the videos themselves, and how the numbers game that goes on amidst them is kind of mind-blowing. You can read all about that here.

The Roadrunner Show: Episode “Stop! Look! And Hasten!” (August 14, 1954; dir. Chuck Jones)

This episode plays twice in the film, during the following two breakfast scenes.

Note that the cartoon contains railroad imagery.

First, these events are separated by about 82 days (11 weeks, 5 days) in the lives of the Torrances (the most recent newspaper in the living room is from Sept. 23, 1979, and Wendy clubs Jack on the 13th of December, 1979), so it’s reasonable to expect that Wendy isn’t realizing the duality, or doesn’t care–she’s about to face a madman. But there’s a few interesting changes, between these similar-looking, similar-functioning scenes.

Foremost, in the first breakfast, Wendy and Danny are wearing blue and dark blue–roadrunner colours–and in the second breakfast they’re both wearing brown–coyote colours. Even the plaid tablecloth and Danny’s milk have turned brown. So Wendy and Tony/Danny have gone from being prey to predators, it seems. I think you could end the analysis there, but it is a funny change to see, since the coyote is the impotent menace, and roadrunner is the brilliant target.

Side note: Shining lore has it that Kubrick wanted the cartoon to be Woody Woodpecker (but couldn’t get the rights). Woody’s colours are blue-white-red, which might account for red being the only cross-over colour. Hard to say. Roadrunner and Coyote go better with the Tom and Jerry mug Wendy was drinking from (in the sense that Woody lacks a singular mortal nemesis). Also, the road runner bird is part of the cuckoo family of birds, and near the end of the film, according to the subtitles in only some versions of the home release, Jack is singing a line from the 1921 Al Jolson play, Bombo. A play that has a song all about cuckoo birds. Also, cuckoo birds are where we get the idea of cuckolding from, since they’re able to trick other birds into raising their children. And there’s a strong subtext in The Shining about Jack’s fears that Danny comes between he and Wendy (more overtly in the novel), a fear that the hotel transfers onto Hallorann, with a little help from the n-word. So it’s interesting that Danny and Wendy in the film get some lessons from just such a cuckoo and hound.

And speaking of other cartoons, the first breakfast has Tom and Jerry and the Bugs Bunny on Danny’s shirt, while second breakfast only has Pooh bear. What’s strange, perhaps, about the Bugs shirt is that he never appears in full view. Only the Bugs plushie is seen fully (along with the only other appearance of the Pooh bear).

Anyway, we’ve crossed from a non-Disney universe to a Disney-tinged universe, it seems. Kubrick professed not to be a fan of Disney’s role at the top of the cartoon food chain, saying that films like Bambi are essentially traumatizing to kids. I have a funny experience with Bambi myself in that I know I saw it twice as a child, and yet I have no memory of it, unlike even the frightening nightmare that was The Secret of NIMH. Perhaps Kubrick had a point.

Another thing to note here is what’s behind them: a book shelf with a set of twins. First breakfast it’s the salt and pepper shakers, second breakfast it’s the Paul Peel nudes. But we’ve lost the stampeding bull image. Is that because Jack’s in the building with them?

Finally, I did a study on the various moments of the film that use the numbers 447 in the time code (4:47, 40:47, 44:07) because that’s the number of pages in the novel, and I’d noticed that Wendy likely passes between a verified Tom Thomson painting and a likely Alois Arnegger painting at exactly 47:40. And there’s a thing called the Aarne-Thompson Folktale Motif Index, which is a series of numbers that seem to be what all the numbers in the kitchen’s storeroom are all about. That’s a complex idea, I guess, so head here to learn more about what I call The Story Room.

But it was while looking into those 447 moments (which I was thinking of as “story code” moments), that I realized that the first Roadrunner breakfast includes that 4:47, while the second one is happening in the mirrorform at 40:47. This lead me down quite a rabbit hole of analysis, where I realized that if we listen to the cartoon happening offscreen, and then go looking at the time codes for the moments from the real cartoon, we find that Danny is watching two heavily edited versions of this cartoon, and that the time codes from the cartoon speak to an even deeper set of number connections. Head here to learn all about that and much more.

TOM AND JERRY (William Hanna, Joseph Barbera, feb. 10, 1940)

As for Tom and Jerry: at first we only see Tom, but when she puts the mug down, she reverses it, and Jerry is also revealed, slamming a large hammer down upon his nemesis.

So there’s the cat-and-mouse aspect of the film that occurs between her and Jack, and Jack and Danny. You could even say Wendy’s pursuit of her son (sexual or otherwise), buried behind Tony, is a bit like that, not to mention her search for him at the finale.

Tom and Jerry won seven Oscars over the course of its run, tying it with Silly Symphonies/Disney, for the most in that category. Five of the Oscars were between 1943-1948. 161 cartoons were produced between 1940 and 1967. The racially offensive main character Mammy Two-Shoes ran from 1940 to 1952, appearing in 9 separate cartoons.

It’s also a David and Goliath story, with Jerry being the surprisingly adept lesser of the two. It’s worth noting that Tom and Jerry (possibly) appear in the novel Catch-22 (a famous quote about the book references them), which is behind Danny’s head while Wendy’s holding the mug.

Carson City (Nov. 3, 1952; dir. André De Toth)

This was Warner Bros. first film to be shot in WarnerColor, so it’s interesting that in the two shots of the film playing behind Wendy, the one is in colour and the one is in B&W. Also, Hallorann has the same TV in Miami, showing colour.

The big bad guy in Carson City is “Big Jack” Davis (Jack Torrance becomes the “big bad wolf”), and the hero is Silent Jeff Kincaid (Danny only has five major speaking scenes: Roadrunner, Tony/Doctor, the drive up, the Hallorann talk, the zombie Jack talk), who is a railroad engineer. Kubrick made a point of observing that Danny Lloyd’s father Jim is/was a railway engineer.

The director, André De Toth, made a slew of cowboys-and-Indians movies, but also directed Gold for the Caesars as one of his last projects (recall the CAESAR book behind the doctor’s head later). His most famous work was the horror picture House of Wax, a spooky mansion story, which was shot in 3-D despite the fact that De Toth only had one eye at the time (I just think that’s kind of awesome). In the mirrorform, Jack’s “Here’s Johnny (Carson)!” line appears overtop of Wendy talking to the Doctor in the living room, which is also exactly where she was (she’s sitting on the same chair, albeit, backwards) when she had Carson City playing behind her. We could also note that De Toth’s first and last major efforts were as second unit director on the first film adaptation of The Jungle Book (1942) (whose author we’ve discussed), and Superman (1978), the premier of which lead Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall to meet Ringo Starr (I’ve since been informed that Starr and Duvall were an item briefly, and this was likely part of that period).

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In the scene within this film, Kincaid (Randolph Scott) is getting shown a newspaper by Mr. Sharon (Larry Keating) about a barroom brawl he had. “We’ll be punching through here in a few days,” Kincaid tells his boss. “That’s not all you’ve been punching lately,” Sharon replies. Sharon goes on to say (in scenes that shortly follow, but aren’t seen behind Wendy), “You seem to think there’s something amusing about being in a barroom brawl.” And “I busted you out of jail to do this job, [you keep acting like this] you could wind up right back there.” Jack Torrance lost his job as a school teacher by beating up a student who was slashing his tires. Just as Sharon is having Kincaid do a job for him up in the mountains, Jack’s drinking buddy Al Shockley, through his lofty connections, got Jack this job up in the mountains.

The way Silent Jeff Kincaid (Randolph Scott) says Sharon sounds like “Shine”. Mr. Shine. Two times in the scene the YouTube Closed Captioning translated it as “Mr. Schine”. That pronunciation is kind of incredible (possibly this was meant to reflect the Asian-style banner to the left, which might be by the painter Lang Shining). The Carson City in-movie credits don’t list the character names, so it’s possible Kubrick thought he was being even more clever than he was, there. And if he did know, that’s still pretty clever. There’s also a comparison to be made between the stance and attitude of the men in the film and Ullman and Watson, who are standing in the exact same position behind Jack (see below), though on his opposite side. I’ve placed the Carson City image almost exactly where it would appear behind Wendy.

I wonder if this idea of two people standing behind the Torrances arguing is partly meant to subconsciously express the arguments they’ve had in the past. This scene occurs before Wendy tells the doctor about Jack’s abuses, so all we have to go on at that point is Jack’s seeming void of enthusiasm in the call, to compare with Wendy’s breezy lightness. Both the duos behind Jack and Wendy are discussing work that takes place in the mountains (the building of a railroad through the mountains, and the operation of a hotel in the mountains), but the drama between Sharon and Kincaid can’t be anything like whatever drama is between Watson and Ullman, except in mood and general working relationship. Ullman probably isn’t punching up barrooms, and Watson isn’t the boss of him.

Although both Barry Nelson (Ullman) and Randolph Scott were open, lifelong Republicans, the latter being one of Ronald Reagan’s biggest Hollywood supporters. Nelson, as we’ve covered, appeared on two of the same shows as Reagan in the same years, episodes apart.

The picture of Scott here is from April of 1979, so would be within a year of this shooting, no doubt. The other blurrier image of maybe-Scott is from when Jack’s first crossing the lobby, and in this shot he looks a lot more like Scott than in the later scene. So possibly it was only him in the first shot?

One last thing: as we’ll discuss later, I have a strongly supported theory that a TV movie called Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are was a major influence on The Shining. Not only this, but several of the actors from that film seem to be the background actors in the lobby. So, is it possible that Randolph Scott is one of the old men seen behind Ullman and Watson here? The other can’t be Larry Keating (Mr. Sharon), who died in 1967. But perhaps both these men are from Carson City.

Emergency! (1972-1979)

The Emergency! lunch box on Danny’s shelf, and the red mug up and to the left, are from a very highly-rated TV series (especially considering the era), with a 7.9 on IMDb, and it seems to have used real fire fighters, or at least named two of its characters with the actor’s real names. Also, among the top 8 cast are a character named Dr. Kelly Brackett and Fireman Chet Kelly, which seems like an odd twin effect. And the captain of the team is named Capt. Hank Stanley, which seemed like Stan’s cute wink to himself, possibly. The characters are from Fire Department 51 (Catcher in the Rye came out in ’51), which was portrayed in the show…by Station 127, which was located in Carson, California. And the hospital they took people to for treatment was played by a real building in the next town over. The town of Torrance.

The show starred Randolph Mantooth (another Randolph!), who is half Seminole. The name Seminole comes from the Creek word simanó-li, which means “runaway” (another, very obscure, Creek reference?). And the lunchpail is directly above Candy Land, which features the gingerbread man as its mascot, also famous for his running away abilities.

Danny’s superpower will become running away at the end, though he has a few good running away moments before then, like when he flees Summer of ’42, or when he escapes the 237 ghost’s clutches.

The show had an interesting effect on the real world, by helping propel the advancement of medical expertise in paramedics, who, up until then, were basically as studied as anyone with a First Aid certificate today. And the series creators borrowed the main characters from this show to appear on their other show Sierra, which, perhaps, hoped to do something similar with National Park Service rangers (Jack references the Sierras when Wendy asks about the Donner Party, “I think that was further west, in the Sierras”).

The series also did a TV movie of the week episode in January of 1978 derived heavily from The Towering Inferno, called The Steel Inferno. As discussed, The Tower appears in the Torrance living room.

Also, according to Shining lore, Jack Nicholson broke down over 80 doors throughout the various shoots of his axing scenes, and had the strength and skill to do so in part by having been a volunteer fire marshal. So Danny’s affection for firefighters and fire engines might be a little ironic in that context. Though I think it was probably more the paramedic aspect that appealed to our young Doc.


There’s a blink-and-miss-it instance of what I suspect to be a German game show (Dalli Dalli, which means Hurry Hurry) playing behind Wendy as she crosses between radio rooms. It’s playing on the TV that will be playing Summer of ’42 in exactly 3:27 (after the 3 seconds that this show is visible here). I’m playing it safe, in case it somehow turns out I’m wrong, but I’m 99% sure this is the show. The only thing I can’t say is which episode it is. And for the record, I’m discovering this after publishing the site, in case you’re here noticing I haven’t plugged this into other analyses on the site.

So, let’s look at the evidence. There’s only two images that the show shows during Wendy’s walk. The first image (lower left), is only on screen for the sliveriest of time slivers. The second image (lower right) dominates the 3 seconds of screen time. This shot change takes us from a wide shot of the white-suit-white-hair individual, to a closer, askance angle, but keeping the hexagon letter board behind the figure. And these sort of transitions happen all the time during the fifteen or so (pre-1980) episodes of the show that you can scan through on YouTube. None of these seem to be the right episode, but that brings me to the man in the upper right image.

This was Maxi Böhm. He made four appearances on the show, this being from his second. Böhm also parodied an episode of Dalli Dalli on his satirical program Cabaret-Cabaret (1972-74), on the sixth episode. The host of Dalli Dalli, Hans Rosenthal, appeared as one of the contestants in the parody. You can watch the entire parody here, and even though I’ve only scanned through what’s available online, I could easily tell just how thorough and concise this parody was. So you’ve got one two with a doubling name (Cabaret-Cabaret) parodying another show with a doubling name, and in the parody, you have Bohm pretending to be Rosenthal, and Rosenthal pretending to be a contestant. That’s a lot of alternating doubles already. But we can add to this the fact that the Overlook hotel has (as many as) three cartoons by Hans Bierbrauer in it, and Bierbrauer appeared on many episodes of Dalli Dalli, usually just for a few minutes, doing speed drawings, which included doing a speed drawing of one of the contestants. The contestants were always famous actors and similar personalities, so perhaps this wasn’t as hard as it might’ve seemed. Still, an impressive talent. Below you can see an example of Bierbrauer’s skill in action beside the parody from the Böhm episode.

So that gives us two Hans’s and a Maxi. And Bierbrauer and Böhm both had whitening hair and wore light suits at the time the show was being made. So there’s a bit of a triumvirate there, like the Jack-Grady-Lloyd one, or the Jack-Ullman-Watson one. And of course there’s three Bierbrauer cartoons in the film. Also, Bierbrauer was better known to the public by his one-word stage name “Oskar”. So, just as there was an effort to conceal the connections that exist between the two Jack triumvirates in the film (like how the two men playing Ullman and Watson are named Barry, but Barry Dennen’s name was not included in the opening credits), perhaps some German viewers of the series didn’t realize they were seeing two Hans’s. And one of those Hans’s was a clone-making machine.

Like I said, only a handful of the 150+ 90-minute episodes are online, so if that’s Böhm, it would have to be one of the episodes from 1972-1975 that he appeared in. But the day that it’s supposed to be in the film as Wendy’s passing is Dec. 8th 1979, and there just so happens to have been an episode on Dec. 6th 1979 (only one episode came out per month), so I wonder if this scene was shot during the live airing of that episode (#86, in case you have access, or a superb memory), and the man is just someone who happens to look like Böhm. If it turns out to be just some random pre-recorded episode (Kubrick’s in-laws were German, so I don’t suppose it would’ve been impossible to get a tape of a recent episode), then it could still be loaded with significance, since it’s likely some German celebrity.

But before we leave the Böhm issue, there’s one thing to note of some import, though it probably has nothing to do with these inclusions. Böhm was known as the “joke president” of Austria, thanks to his expansive collection of memorized knee-slappers, but in August of 1979, his daughter died in a hiking accident in Lake Maggiore, Italy. Böhm thereafter changed his name from Maxi to Max, and began taking serious roles, dying of a heart attack 3 years later. So that would’ve taken place during The Shining‘s production, and I wonder how this effected Kubrick’s decision to leave these clues in. Certainly each one of them was heavily obscured by angle, duration on screen, and in the case of the snowcat poster, by some large hunk of machinery. What seems especially coincidental is how Christine Böhm’s last film was Lady Oscar, based on the manga The Rose of Versailles, in which she played Marie Antoinette (Oskar, Rosenthal, Maxi). The film didn’t do well critically or commercially, but it didn’t hit cinemas outside of Japan until April, 1980, so there’s a chance Kubrick knew nothing about any of this. I only mention all this because I think the dark horror of Böhm’s tragedy, losing his daughter, mixed with the fact that Kubrick was already weaving him (indirectly if not directly) into The Shining, and given the fact that the existing subtext for the Oskar/Dalli Dalli was the idea of Germany turning itself around from its horrors, only for that very subtext to be struck by its own, shattering, real life horror, probably struck our hero as incredibly coincidental, if he knew anything about it. I mean, Maxi changed his name over it.

Going back to more concrete matters: the show was a high-speed blend of interviews with the celebrities, rapid-fire question periods which determined a hierarchy of contestants, which lead to a round-robin finale, and this was all interspersed with people singing songs, and performing little dramatic scenes (often Shakespeare, so perhaps our mystery episode contained Julius Caesar?), and physical mini-games where the contestants would have to run around sorting objects in various ways. Honestly, even just leafing through, I was impressed by the inventiveness of the show’s structure, and how easily a non-speaker like myself could understand the context of every sequence. I noticed early episodes contained skits about indigenous peoples and the Olympics and Greek myths, so part of me wonders if this was a favourite show of one of Kubrick’s in-laws, and maybe he understood how well the show’s contents spoke to The Shining‘s subtexts. I also wonder if we could pin down the episode if the dozen or so celebrity guests would open up a small reservoir of still-buried context.

As for how it relates to the film, the mirror moment for these 3 seconds is pretty bang on. Wendy’s dialogue to Tony-Danny across this moment is “Danny. Wake up! Come on! Right now! Wake up!” Another translation for Dalli-Dalli is “Hurry up!” So, Wendy wants Danny to hurry up and wake up. Right now!

And remember, forwards Wendy is walking literally from one Oskar cartoon to another in this sequence, though both are obscured by the framing of the shot. In the first shot below, that’s the moment that Wendy is between the radio room cartoon and the camera, and in the second shot, that’s (approximately) the moment the camera is between Wendy and Susie’s cartoon.

Actually, what’s really cool about the mirrorform here is that Wendy’s walk between radios/Oskars starts on the exact second that backward Jack’s backward walk along the same path ends. In fact, right as the shot of Wendy in the radio room starts, Jack is just passing the Oskar in Susie’s office, and just as he’s at the corner leading around to the other Oskar, he’s totally faded, and Wendy’s cross begins.

In fact, during his entire walk, he’s almost always totally “within” forward Wendy, as if his backward walk is animating her to make the same journey to the other radio.

Also, all the paintings on the wall behind the show have some connection to Germany. As previously discussed, Group of Seven paintings were used as a form of propaganda during WWII, as a way to promote naturalism, and the beauty of Canada. Also, F. H. Varley was a war artist, who documented German POWs during WWI, and Cornelius Krieghoff, while considered Dutch-Canadian, was descended from a German family, and seems to have spent much of his youth in Germany, finally attending the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich for his education. And let’s not forget how the Grady twin paintings relate to Germany. And of course, Summer of ’42, which we’ll be discussing shortly, has a little something to do with Germany. Actually, the first episode of Dalli Dalli aired 25 days after Summer of ’42 hit theatres. So the two things that show on the Overlook lobby TV are a German game show that speaks to how the mood in Germany improved greatly after the war, and an American sex drama about how things during the war weren’t so sparkling great back home, especially when bad news made its way back from enemy lines.

And let’s not forget that the red sofas on the way to the Gold Room, combined with all the black and off-white, give this whole area a real Nazi vibe.

Maybe that’s part of why Tony-Danny’s sweater is the same hard red, to show how his reality has not evolved too much. And actually, on that note, I’ve written extensively elsewhere how the backward scene here was Wendy’s last chance to take Danny and split. The following scene is Jack killing the radio, and we imagine he killed the snowcat right after.

But when Wendy’s talking to Tony-Danny, her watch shows 10:15, and when Jack goes to kill the cat, it’s 11:46 by the lobby clock. So 91 minutes passed between Tony’s warning and Jack’s killing spree. The average length of a Dalli Dalli was around 90 minutes. And anyone who was a fan of that show could probably tell you how gargantuan they would’ve felt in those days. She had all that time. If it was an 85 minute episode, they would’ve had time to watch that, get dressed, and run for the cat. In fact, Summer of ’42 is 104 minutes, which they would not have had time to watch. But watch it they will.

3:27 later.

Perhaps the last major point to make here, in case I forget to add this to the other analyses, is that Dalli Dalli happens right after the 1/3 mark of the film. 30 seconds after, in fact, which means it comes again 30 seconds before the 2/3 mark in the mirrorform. But maybe this was a little joke to himself, about how he needed to “hurry up” and get to the next third of the movie. Meanwhile, the action of the film, across the three thirds gets slower and bulkier, in terms of the time line. The first third crosses around 77 days of action (Sept. 23rd-Dec. 8th), the second third crosses 5 days of action (Dec. 8th-Dec. 12th), and the final third crosses 18 hours of action (11:46pm-around 5:45pm the following day) (not counting the last few shots in the film).

Also, the line in Redrum Road that happens during the first occurrence of Dalli Dalli is “Got to be a joker/he just do what he please”, which would be apt if it’s Maxi “joke president” Böhm on screen. And during the second occurrence it’s “The love you take/is equal to the love/you make” which might have some significance to the context of that episode, who knows? Oh, apparently Beatles trivia factored a lot on the show. Enough for someone to point out that fact on German Wikipedia.

Summer of ’42 (Apr. 18, 1971; dir. Robert Mulligan)

Other films by Mulligan include To Kill a Mockingbird (’62), The Other (’71 – which is about the birth of twins, one of which turns out to be evil(!)), The Stalking Moon (’68 – which is about a retired army scout taking in a white woman and her half-Apache son, getting stalked by the Apache father), Same Time, Next Year (’78 – about two married people having sex at a romantic inn where they meet), and Up the Down Staircase (’67 – about a young woman teaching a group of inner city kids). 

Summer of ’42 was a surprise hit. An autobiographical film on the part of its screenwriter, Herman Raucher (called Hermie in the film), it recalls a passage from his pre-Korean-war experience of falling in love with the wife of a man serving overseas as a bomber pilot.

It starred Jennifer O’Neill who had a 30-year-long relationship with Cover Girl as the lead model for its products (very rare, apparently). O’Neill got the star billing, despite the fact that she’s only in the film for 12 minutes. And she never had another big hit (sort of like everyone in this movie but Jack), but she was featured in another film about psychics that came out the year after The Shining: Scanners (By the way, did you know that “There are 4 billion people on earth” and that “237 are Scanners”? Oddly specific, but true!).

Image result for scanners poster

O’Neill’s life was a fairly tragic one before her modelling, breaking a tonne of bones horseback riding, getting an abortion, and a string of divorces. In Summer of ’42 she plays a woman waiting for her husband to return from the war who is approached shyly by a young man who’s fallen in love with her, and who might be soon whisked away to war himself. The film has an R-rating, presumably due to its frank sexuality (which is prevalent and explicit throughout), so the idea of a five-year-old idly playing while watching it is fairly silly, unless Wendy was extremely permissive, or somehow wasn’t picking up on the film’s subtleties. This is also the only time Wendy and Danny watch something together that isn’t the Roadrunner cartoon, so perhaps it represents the apotheosis of that triangle.

Also, behind Danny on the floor behind his little blanket, are laying a tank, a fighter jet, and some other automobiles. The tank will later appears atop Bomber Pilot, a book dealing frankly with the horrors of dropping bombs on innocent civilians.

The film also contains scenes of its characters watching other movies (in this case, 1942’s Now, Voyager), as Wendy and Danny are doing here.

In this delightful moment, Hermie face-checks his date ever so tenderly.

Also, we join up with the film 24 minutes into its runtime. 24 being palindromic of the titular 42.

My general analysis of this film’s inclusion (which was a favourite of Kubrick’s) is that Wendy has just witnessed her first taste of Jack’s propensity for madness and seclusion, and so she’s (somewhat unwittingly) testing Danny out with this film to see if he can take Jack’s place as the reliable male figure in her life. Danny plays with war machines while they watch, which says something about the way he’s processing the film, but he also runs off to get his fire engine in a few minutes, which suggests that he’s picking up on the alarming nature of Wendy trying to shift this power onto him. He’s running toward a more familiar media, his fandom for Emergency!

Wendy’s next act in the film is to go into the boiler room and do Jack’s job for him, so perhaps Danny’s rebuff of Summer of ’42 helped Wendy see that she had to protect herself, as he was doing for himself, from the film.

Also, the scene in the film involves a woman offering to pay a young man for his services (carrying her groceries home). He declines. She offers him coffee and he accepts. They discuss what kind of coffee he likes and he boasts about taking it black. She says he’ll be in the army before long, and he tries to act tough about it. He says his brother’s a paratrooper. There’s a strong mood that this guy wants to come off well to the woman, and she’s acts blithely unaware of his nervousness. This all reminded me of the first scene where Ullman asks Jack if he’d like coffee, and then he tries to act all charming throughout the interview, despite the fact that he’s basically got the job already. It’s an echo. Same with Jack offering to pay Lloyd and getting turned down, to his chagrin (and which leads to drinks).

The two coffee offers mirror to Grady saying, “Your son…has a very great talent” (51:31) and the shot of Danny escaping the labyrinth, effectively killing Jack (4:01).

Oh, Jennifer O’Neill also says, “Marvelous donuts” at one point. Donuts, like fruit loops (in the Torrance kitchen, with the phallic zucchini on top), like endless cycles/traps.

To Itch His Own (1958; dir. Chuck Jones)

This was the last WB short scored by Carl W. Stalling and/or produced by Edward Selzer. Selzer retired completely and was replaced (uncredited, like Selzer) by John W. Burton. Durkin is played by Tony Burton. Stalling would compose on over 700 shorts over 30 years. Selzer did almost 400 shorts in 14 years. He won 5 Oscars, incidentally.

But what seems especially interesting is that the plot of this cartoon involves a flea retiring from the flea circus to go live on a dog. He leaves a note that reads, “Dear Sam; I’ve been working too hard so I’m going to take a rest on some nice quiet dog in the country. Yours truly, The Mighty Angelo” and then “P.S. I’ll fix the door when I get back. The M.A.” So there you have the idea of being overworked, going out to quiet place in the country, and a broken door. Angelo busts it off its hinges as he rampages away from the circus.

He then goes to a gorgeous, remote country estate where he makes stairs out of a nice dog’s tail in order to climb into his fur. But the mean dog who shares the estate, Butcher, bullies him. Angelo then causes a series of seemingly inanimate objects to torment Butcher, who grows increasingly paranoid about the attacks.

At first, he thinks it’s the nice dog who clobbered him with a brick, but then Angelo drags the enraged Butcher away, imperceptibly, and begins smashing his face in with a sledgehammer.

Butcher, having seen the self-animating sledgehammer takes out his bottle of OLD DOG-NIP (180 Proof), and suspects it might be the alcohol causing him to have these hallucinations.

He then tries to frame the nice dog so that the dog catcher will take him away, but Angelo reverse-frames Butcher, who gets taken away. Angelo then puts up an antenna on the nice dog and watches an episode of “Glassie” from his hammock.

So there’s a fascinating parallel between this idea of the nice dog’s invisible friend that protects him from his household menace, and Danny’s invisible Tony offering a kind of protection to Danny against Jack. In a way, To Itch His Own is like a mini Shining, for kids. So it’s interesting that it would be playing behind Durkin. Is this to suggest that Durkin (emphasis on “kin”?), like Dick, is someone who is gentle and kind and would do a nice thing for someone he barely knows?


There’s an interesting symmetry to the way TVs and shows appear. The first and last are offscreen being watched (red box), the next two in are behind the person talking on a phone (orange box), the next two in are news broadcasts being watched by Danny’s two major guardians and both programs are discussing a coming blizzard at length (yellow box), and the the middle two instances are on the lobby TV (green box). Also note that the Overlook kitchen (Hallorann’s domain) and Durkin’s Garage both have the tiny white TV, while Hallorann’s Miami place, the Torrance Boulder apartment, and the Suite 3 apartment all have the same model of red JVC.

Jack’s Four References – I Love Lucy, The Wizard of Oz, The Three Little Pigs, and The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson

The first two are possibly inaccurate. When Jack first chops through the door, he says, “Wendy? I’m home.” This was a catchphrase for many, I imagine, but since the other three things he says during this sequence are all TV/movie references, I don’t think it’s a huge stretch to imagine this to be a sick parody of Ricky Ricardo’s “Lucy, I’m home!”

His next phrase is “Come out, come out, wherever you are…!” This was a song from Glenda the good witch in The Wizard of Oz, but it’s also the name of an episode of the anthology TV-movie series Thriller. And when Jack first appears in the film, a woman named Aileen Lewis appears in the background. She was nicknamed “The Duchess” for her regal bearing, and appeared in the background of many things, to lend an air of aristocracy/royalty. Well, she appeared in another episode of Thriller called The Next Voice You See (AKA Look Back in Happiness), and there’s a lot more to say about that, but essentially I suspect Lewis’ presence, along with the trivia that Kubrick apparently hated The Wizard of Oz, supports the latter connection. That said, since Glenda is summoning munchkins out of hiding to meet Dorothy, it still works as a subtle reference to Tony, or even the ghosts of the hotel.

His “Little pigs, little pigs” bit requires little added explanation, but see Room 237 for an interesting theory.

And the “Here’s Johnny” bit is also obvious, but in case you don’t read my Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are analysis, one of the main actors in that was named John Carson. And he might just appear in The Shining

As for The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson generally, Carson did an impression of Jimmy Carter, during the president’s time in office, and, without doing an exhaustive study, this might be the very first instance of a late night host impersonating a president to recurrent comedic effect. Jimmy Carter is referenced visibly in the overlaying scene from Jack’s Carson reference.

But while “Johnny” can be read as Jack referring to himself in the third person (“Jack” and “John” used to be more interchangeable in the past), which already suggests a detachment from the self, he’s also borrowing the phrase from Ed McMahon, Johnny Carson’s longtime partner, whose obsequious bemusement with Carson’s antics earned him the nickname “Human Laugh Track”. So I wonder if part of the reason for keeping the “improv” line here was to invoke a sense of Jack’s total subservience to the hotel’s will. Like McMahon, Jack will go along with the hotel’s slightest suggestion.

Intriguingly, ten years later, Nicholson would make a reference (skip to 2:47) to the other Carson-McMahon collaboration, the earlier series, Who Do You Trust?

(There’s also the relatively minor point that one of Carson’s most famous and beloved running characters was as the psychic Carnac the Magnificent (introduced in 1964). The character’s psychic ability was used as a way to set up a punchline, Carnac could glean what was written on a card in an envelope by putting it to his head and listing off things that related to that thing. He had a Persian appearance about him. Carnac’s headdress had a plume of feather that is quite similar to the head garments worn by many of the ghosts, so perhaps that’s a comment on Carson’s Orientalism, and on the Orientalism expressed by the West in general. But this also ties loosely into the envelope at the EYE SCREAM moment of the film, and the note in photo Jack’s hand. Carnac made jokes that were fairly silly and obvious, but that’s what made them funny. Once you understand the mechanics of The Shining, the “message” of the film starts to feel kind of obvious.)

In light of all that, it’s worth pointing out that Jack initially chides Danny’s discovery of information (cannibalism) through TV. “See? It’s okay. He saw it on the television…” But Jack was the one who brought up the subject of cannibalism (after Wendy invoked the Donner Party). And once he’s fully embraced his monster self, he’s spewing nothing but catchphrases (in fact, these two sequences mirror over each other in the mirrorform).

If his derision for TV was thanks to his self-imposed status as a literate man, it also doesn’t help that his one direct literary allusion in the film is to the racist poem White Man’s Burden by Rudyard Kipling (yes, he also references Peter Pan and Jeeves, but it’s unclear if it’s as intentional).

The Gold Rush (1925; dir. Charlie Chaplin)

Just wanted to note that cabin fever was not featured (that Wikipedia knows of) in any film before The Shining other than Chaplin’s The Gold Rush. Apparently Crime and Punishment (which may appear in the movie) is one of two novels which invokes it. Is it coincidence that at least two of these are popularly thought to be mirrorform?

Geoffrey Cocks (Room 237 theorist) believes that the Gold Room is a sly reference to the aspects of the gold rush that took place in Colorado. The Colorado rushes took place in 1859 and 1891. I sifted through the shorthand info on those, and there’s a lot of little things, but nothing that felt major.

Chaplin’s film, however, took its inspiration from two things: The Klondike Gold Rush and the Donner Party cannibals. An early gag is Chaplin being shadowed by a mountain bear. His cabin mate, Big Jim, hallucinates that Chaplin is a chicken from hunger, and pursues him briefly with an axe (and a lot of gold rush art involves axes, I’ve noticed). Chaplin’s eventually saved by a bear, which they shoot to make food. The female lead has the same name as her character: Georgia (like Jack and Danny). Chaplin steals Georgia away from the brutish, hostile, and possessive Jack, and they dance beneath two fox furs. Jack tries to fight, and is knocked out by a giant clock that falls off the wall. There’s a trapper’s camp, which is passed by a dogsled team (just like in the Gagnon painting; see above). A horse pays him a visit. There’s a ruse Georgia pulls on Chaplin about coming to New Year’s (a date referenced on the Playgirl), and he hallucinates a long dinner sequence with them (sort of like Jack’s hallucinations). In fact, Georgia stays with Jack, but then feels bad and goes looking for Chaplin. She misses him, which makes her slap Jack, and ditch him. Jack mistakes the fact that his house is teetering off a cliff while being hungover. Big Jim chastises Chaplin for having “no psychology, no control”. That’s about all the loose connections I can see between this film and that, which are not few, but I do somewhat doubt Chaplin’s film had a huge impact on Kubrick’s themes or technique.

The film was reissued in 1942. Chaplin would, of course, go on to make The Great Dictator (1940), and already had a very similar moustache. So, you might say that the overlay which causes Jack Torrance to have that brief “toothbrush moustache” could be a reference either way to the gold rush or to WWII.

Gold rushes had basically dried up in the West by the 1910s, however, so the date at the end of The Shining (July. 4th, 1921) would more likely be a WWII reference, as we’ll discuss.

True Grit (1969; dir. Henry Hathaway)

The news lady mentions “the 1968 shooting” referring to something that lead to a prison sentence. In the overlay here, we have a line of bread (which I couldn’t find online), called STAR brand bread, right next to Danny’s head. 2001: A Space Odyssey (a 1968 shooting) famously ends with the emergence of the “star-child”. Coincidence?

The next news bit that captures Wendy’s attention is the story of a continuing search “in the mountains near Ouray” for a “missing Aspen woman” named “Susan Robertson” who “disappeared on a hunting trip with her husband” and has been “missing ten days”. I’m not sure about the Aspen reference (although Jack does flick his tongue out like an asp quite a bit–just kidding), but there’s an interesting series of other connections at play there. The action of the entire Shining takes place over ten (named and unnamed) days; Susan Robertson shares a name similarity with the Roberts brand milk that appears with Wendy throughout the film (in Boulder and the Overlook kitchen), and Ullman’s secretary, Susie, who brings Danny back to his parents after his scare.

Marguerite Roberts was a black-listed screenwriter who wrote the screenplay for True Grit in 1968, from the novel published in the same year, and John Wayne lobbied to keep that screenplay in place, saying it was the best he’d ever read. True Grit was filmed in the mountains near Ouray, and in Ouray itself. The plot of True Grit concerns a young girl who hires an aging US Marshal, Rooster Cogburn to catch the man who murdered her father. Dick Hallorann has a rooster statuette buried deep in his apartment, and Danny does hire him in a sense. It’s probably worth noting that the TV Wendy’s got here is the same as the one that’ll be overtop of Larry Durkin’s head in a few moments.

Anyway, I haven’t seen the original True Grit. Perhaps there are other connections I’m missing.

The Summer of ’69

This could be a much larger section, but for now I just want to share three things with you. There appears to be references to films the three main adult actors were starring in circa 1969-70, the era of the disintegration of the Beatles, but also the Grady murders.

  1. Easy Rider. Danny’s trike starts out all white, but turns red, and loses a bell on the left handlebar. Notice that Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper ride hogs with very similar components, but how where Hopper’s forks (if that’s what they’re called) are red, Fonda’s are metallic silver-white. Also notice how Danny’s bike has a red-and-black plaid travel case behind it, and how Jack Nicholson is leaning up against a red-and-black plaid something on Fonda’s bike (I don’t own a copy of Easy Rider, sorry, and this was the only pic online that shows these details). This transition in trike colour speaks to Danny’s drifting away from his father’s influence.
  2. Brewster McCloud: Shelley Duvall’s first movie was this 1970 Robert Altman comedy about Bud Cort designing wings (while living in a large, abandoned building) so that he can fly, like Icarus. In Kubrick’s acceptance speech for his lifetime achievement award from the DGA, he gave a short speech about how he feels that the Icarus myth isn’t about not flying close to the sun, but about designing better wings. As you can see in the image below, the blue poster for the film features a face collage like the one hanging beside a frustrated Duvall.
  3. The Harlem Globetrotters: Scatman Crothers voiced real-life George ‘Meadowlark’ Lemon for the series’ full two seasons from 1970-71. Crothers only had very bit parts in anything he made in 1969, so this poster of Dr. J feels like a much more pertinent reference. And if these references are all what I’m suggesting, note that they all occur in the same room, within about 30-40 feet of each other.

In Vivian Kubrick’s making of documentary, we see James Mason visit the set with his granddaughters(?), one of whom bears a mild resemblance to the Grady twins, the other of whom is dressed like them. If this was, indeed, a staged event as some have suggested, I think the purpose was simply to tie Kubrick’s Lolita (in which Mason starred as Humbert Humbert) to The Shining, and help nod along the notion of the The Shining‘s mirrorform structure.

Just for fun: did the blowjob bear’s mouth inspire the Predator’s? Did Hallorann’s hood shape inspire ET? These are things you can’t unsee.

When you’re a crazy lunatic like me, anyway.


(There’s a tonne of links on this site directing people here to learn about how the hotel’s out to get Hallorann. I don’t get into that til the end of this section, so if you’re in a hurry, scroll down til you see the bolded words A Trapper’s Camp.)

Spoiler alert! In case you’d like to be surprised by the plot of this delightful little thriller, you can watch it here, before reading the following.

Okay, so, you’ve seen the episode, and you remember that a big part of the plot was the idea of Cathy More and her cousin Jane Howard signing the hotel’s log book, right? Well, the RED BOOK on Ullman’s table here, identifiable only in this shot, is a 1973(?) Hotel & Motel Red Book, but thanks to the blurriness of the shot, it ends up looking a bit like HOWE & MORE. But what’s the significance of a “red book” being signed by anyone?

Well, remember when Jack says, “Does it matter to you *at all*…that the owners have put their complete confidence and trust in me, and that I have *signed* a letter of agreement…a *contract*…in which I have accepted that responsibility?”

Some have already likened The Shining‘s plot to a Faustian bargain between Jack and the hotel, but for the longest time I couldn’t quite decide if that’s all there was to that. Turns out, according to the Wikipedia page on “Deals with the Devil”, that all one ultimately needs to do a more general devil-deal soul-selling arrangements is sign “Satan’s Red Book”. Edit: this detail has since disappeared from Wikipedia, so here it is in a herstory book.

Now, wouldn’t you agree, as a recent viewer of Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are, that More’s arrangement with the stranger was a bit of a “deal with the devil”?

Want more proof? Read on. There’s a graphic below that corresponds to all the following colour boxes.

Green Box = The same camera that’s used by the cousin who gets murdered is next to this smoking guy.

Red Box = The smoking guy is probably John Carson, the actor who played the drunk innkeeper, Arthur Lewis. This being filmed about 4-5 years after that show, his hair’s a little greyer, but the thing I’ve always thought about this guy is, man, that looks like Oliver Reed. And that’s what I thought about Carson’s performance all throughout the episode. I’m not expecting you to know Oliver Reed, just that I thought my reaction seems telling.

Purple Box = Jack and Carson wear the same outfit with slightly different colours. Even the undershirt has the same checkered pattern.

Yellow Box = It’s hard to tell if those are the same actors as the conspirators in the show, but they’re clearly styled the same way. Except…

Blue Box = …the Cathy More character, who looks directly at the camera and stares for about two seconds, seems to be stylized after the woman on the cover of the Burda magazine.

Also Blue Box = Seated directly behind the Cathy More character (this is confirmed by IMDb) is a famous, ubiquitous bit part player named Aileen Lewis, who earned the nickname “the duchess” thanks to her “regal bearing”. She appeared in a tonne of things, seated in the background, to give the air of propriety and upperclassness. So, besides the fact that her last name is the same as the character John Carson played (Arthur Lewis), she also appeared as a party guest in another episode of Thriller, called Look Back in Happiness, which is what the woman in front of her seems to be doing, right? But wait! There’s more!

The plot of that episode concerned an American jazz pianist who went blind during a bank robbery that took his wife’s life. Ten years later, he returns to England to play at the retirement party of a wealthy socialite, when his keen ears pick up the voice of his wife’s killer. The pianist’s name? Stan Kay. Kinda like…Stanley Kubrick, who moved to England in 1961, as a result of divorcing his second wife. More to the point, the Grady murders happen in the winter of 1970, almost ten years before the Torrance murder of December 1979, and of course most people would’ve seen it in 1980, when it came out, and assumed the film was making a ten year allusion.

In the second shot here: blue box = Eileen Lewis has migrated, and is now reading either the Burda or the Scientific American; red box = John Carson is gone, which could symbolize his getting framed in the episode; yellow box = the Cathy More figure struts into the hotel, without the man she was chatting with, which could symbolize her eventual double-cross of him in the episode, and her near escape. Oh, also the receptionist now (who is not the one Jack initially met) resembles from behind John Carson’s wife in the episode, Alice Lewis, played by Colette O’Neil. Remember, too, that when this shot cuts back to Wendy, the movie playing behind her is Carson City. The John has become a Kit.

Other clues: boxed fish hanging on the walls…

…people carrying rugs up and down stairs…

…the “deal with the devil” lamp is almost identical to the BJ bear room lamp…

…and the mirrorform moment where Jack is saying “Come out, come out, wherever you are” has that red lamp (middle left), which is very similar to the one in the show pictured below it, and the show also has a sequence where the two conspirators are driving with the woman they kill seen between them here (bottom right), and Danny’s the one Jack and Wendy are ostensibly going to the Overlook to murder.


I actually have a now-very-solid-feeling theory that Hallorann was the one the hotel wanted all along. As you can see below, Hallorann’s death outfit bears a striking resemblance to the trapper in Clarence Gagnon’s painting, A Trapper’s Camp. The painting appears in three places around the hotel, and is one of about five paintings to appear on screen at the same time in the REDRUM edition (in the blowjob well and during a bloodfall).

The first time we see A Trapper’s Camp is in Ullman’s office, when he and Jack are shaking hands (see below). It looks like Ullman’s taking it with him for the season, but in fact it turns up in the BJ well and in the bloodfall hall, even in Danny’s first bloodfall vision which happens right at the end of Jack’s interview. So, if Ullman’s office is “a trapper’s camp” then it would follow that Hallorann getting axed directly outside Ullman’s office door (as seen in the last REDRUM image) would draw a connection from the painting’s name to the purpose of Hallorann’s demise.

In fact, right behind the doctor in the mirrorform, there’s a book leaning against Danny’s wall called Teeny Weeny Adventures, an apparently short-lived series of children’s books where the boy and girl main characters (Tobi and Terri) were always seen in some kind of camping or hiking or farming environment. On the cover of this issue is a red cabin, and someone unfurling a green sleeping bag (I’m guessing). So, the image of Jack springing out to axe Hallorann mirrors over the idea of camp. The red pillar was Jack’s trapper camp, and Hallorann is the…trapper who got trapped?

If you look at it through the lens of “trapping = shining” then it follows that it would want him dead as, like, a rival trapper. Actually, when that theory first hit me (I just put the Teeny Weeny thing together as I’ve been writing this, for the record), it struck me as oddly horrific, since, you know, it’s true that the hotel wants to consume other shiners, and even though Danny (and to a lesser extent Wendy) is spared, the hotel does manage to kill one powerful shiner. The hotel wins. It’s a tragedy.

In fact, when Wendy’s passing the painting, Hallorann was just killed. So it’s like the hotel is gloating it’s victory there–and we don’t see it next to the bloodfall when Wendy’s seeing it in real time, probably because that’s not what that sequence is about for her. And the painting appears in all of Danny’s bloodfall shines (with varying clarity), as if Tony was trying to warn him that the hotel wanted Hallorann, and Danny isn’t able to save him. In that sense, Danny is making his own kind of deal with the devil: take Hallorann, just let me live! Like, there’s no reason he couldn’t have shined Hallorann a warning, or even just a “Hey, come get me! I’m over here. Within earshot of your shouting.” He doesn’t come out of hiding because he knows his dad is nearby.

In Come Out, Come Out Wherever You Are we eventually find out that the conspirators were using Arthur Lewis’s alcoholism and tendency to violence as a way to make the police think he could’ve killed their friend. Not to completely pin it on him, but just to “muddy the waters” as I think the guy says to Cathy More. To give her a plausible alibi when she inherits the money. She kills the stranger guy at the end, to keep all the money for herself, but then the inspector springs out at the last second to show her how he knew to follow her and to expect her to kill the stranger guy, and thus, she’s caught. All thanks to a pack of matches, actually (remember Grady saying “One of them stole a pack of matches…and tried to burn it down…”?).

In this framework, the stranger is Jack Torrance (the one who does the killing), and Cathy More is the hotel, and we are the inspector, who, by following the clues, puts all this together.

But then, what’s the lesson? How do you prosecute a hotel? Are we prosecuting history? Life itself? Only one thing’s for sure: within the confines of this movie, Cathy gets away.

One last thing: I recently discovered that the postcard on the Torrance fridge of the strangely-shaped cross may be (or may be alluding to) the Ana Cross of Spaunton Moor. That cross replaced a cross called the Ain Howe cross. An Ain Howe was replaced…on a moor.

Literally 3 seconds after that cross leaves the screen, we see the escaping Cathy More behind Jack, crossing the lobby. What are the odds?


Addendum: Just to drive home the idea that Ullman is Satan, dig this: on closing day, Watson and Ullman are first seen crossing the spot where Hallorann dies, and where the Bugs Bunny is later seen. Well, check out the outfits on the two men. Notice anything?

Watson is Bugs Bunny (grey around a white chest), and Ullman is the black bear (red and black with white lining). Hallorann also does an impression of Bugs to Danny in the kitchen. And of course, Danny wears a Bugs shirt. So if Watson is another “Doc”, does that imply that he’s a shiner? Perhaps…he’s the film’s ultimate shiner. This could explain why Watson darkens towards Jack for the rest of their relationship, and why he looks so frustrated behind Jack in the call about getting the job. Perhaps after shaking Jack’s hand, he got his own series of shines about Jack’s future. He smiles a lot at Danny and Wendy during the tour, but returns to frowning or glowering at Jack and Hallorann soon after. He knows these men will die.

In many “deal with the devil” scenarios, there’s an angel figure trying to counteract the temptations of the devil figure, so I wonder if Kubrick saw that in Watson. He’s seen that the war for Jack’s soul is lost, and perhaps even that Hallorann’s life is forfeit (Danny’s shines suggest as much), but for some reason (free will?) he’s unable to stand in the way of this progressing trauma.

On a personal note: I don’t love these discoveries; I’m a Taoist with at best minor fondness for Christian thought, beyond the beauty of its mythological applications. For the first six months of my analysis, I resisted the urge to see any hardcore Christian iconography in the film that wasn’t abundantly plain. I really wanted Barry Nelson’s lovely, affable performance to remain what it seemed to be (and if I’ve destroyed that for you too, I’m sorry). And I still think Kubrick has gone to some lengths to include multiple other religious viewpoints, as we’ll discuss elsewhere. I still don’t think the film is a wholesale defence of Christian values, but it’s impossible for me to ignore these findings. Ullman is the devil. But is Watson (“son of wattage”, “son of light”) the archangel? Or is he merely “bringing the light“, as it were?