Description: Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrance delivers a deadly greeting to his wife, Wendy (Shelley Duvall) in Stanley Kubrick's horror classic The Shining (1980).
Jack Torrance is a writer who takes a job as a caretaker at the Overlook Hotel mountain resort in Colorado to maintain the premises until spring arrives. Jack's wife Wendy and his young son, Danny (Danny Lloyd) will also live with him over the long winter that is to follow.
When Jack arrives at the Overlook, he is greeted by Stuart Ullman (Barry Nelson), the manager of the facility who warns Jack that being isolated for so many months may give him cabin fever and the some people have a hard time handling such isolation.
Jack assures Mr. Ullman that he would be fine and that the quiet would be just the thing he needs to work on his writing project. To make sure Jack understands the gravity of the isolation problem, Mr. Ullman finds it necessary to report a tale of what happened to one of the previous caretakers who accepted the position in the Winter of nineteen seventy.
"My predecessor in this job left a man named Charles Grady as the Winter caretaker. And he came up here with his wife and two little girls, I think were eight and ten. And he had a good employment record, good references, and from what I've been told he seemed like a completely normal individual. But at some point during the winter, he must have suffered some kind of a complete mental breakdown. He ran a muck and killed his family with an axe. Stacked them neatly in one of the rooms in the West wing and then he, he put both barrels of a shot gun in his mouth."
As Jack meets with Mr. Ullman, Wendy and Danny meet the resort cook, Dick Hallorann (Scatman Crothers) who is about to leave for the winter. He senses something special about Danny and begins to speak with him through his mind. He, like Danny has a telepathic abilities that the cook refers to as the ability to "shine."
"I can remember when I was a little boy. My grandmother and I could hold conversations entirely without ever opening our mouths. She called it "shining." And for a long time, I thought it was just the two of us that had the shine to us. Just like you probably thought you was the only one. But there are other folks, though mostly they don't know it, or don't believe it. How long have you been able to do it?... Why don't you want to talk about it?"
Danny informs him that he has a little boy named Tony who lives in his mouth and Tony told him not to talk about his ability. He adds that Tony tells him things when he goes to sleep. He also tells Mr. Hallorann, that Tony told him never to tell his mom and dad about what he might tell him. Before their trip to the Overlook, Tony expressed his unwillingness to go there. With the curl of Danny's index finger, Tony spoke the word "redrum" which is the "murder" spelled backwards.
Curious, Mr. Hallorann asks, "Has Tony ever told you anything about this place?" but Danny interrupts, and asks, "Mr. Hallorann, are you scared of this place?" He replies, " No. Scared - there's nothin' here. It's just that, you know, some places are like people. Some "shine" and some don't. I guess you could say the Overlook Hotel here has somethin' almost like "shining." Danny continues, " Is there something bad here?" and Mr. Halloran explains:
"Well, you know, Doc, when something happens, you can leave a trace of itself behind. Say like, if someone burns toast. Well, maybe things that happen leave other kinds of traces behind. Not things that anyone can notice, but things that people who "shine" can see. Just like they can see things that haven't happened yet. Well, sometimes they can see things that happened a long time ago. I think a lot of things happened right here in this particular hotel over the years. And not all of 'em was good."
Then Danny asks, "You're scared of Room 237, ain't ya?" Mr. Hallorann insists, that he is not, but advises, "There ain't nothin' in Room 237. But you ain't got no business goin' in there anyway. So stay out. You understand? Stay out."
As the family settles in to the hotel, Danny rides about the hotel hallways on his tricycle. Rounding the corner of one hallway, he sees two little girls dressed in identical blue dresses who ask Danny to come play with them, "forever and ever and ever." The girls are the ghosts of the children killed by Mr. Grady. Danny senses the danger and scoots the hell out of there.
Later, Danny decides to visit Room 237 and when he does he is attacked by the spirit of an woman killed at the hotel. Hurt and in traumatic shock, Danny goes to his mother, who believes that Danny was injured by Jack, who had a few years earlier broken Danny's arm accidentally. When Wendy accuses Jack of the injury, he is affronted by the allegation.
Later, Jack, who has been on the wagon for five months, goes to the bar in the hotel and says, "I'd sell my goddamn soul, for a glass of beer." Suddenly, a ghostly bartender named Lloyd (Joe Turkel) appears and offers to service Jack's needs. "Good man," says Jack. "You set them up, and I'll knock 'em back, Lloyd; one by one." It apparent at this time that Jack has gone insane and that what evil that lives within the hotel has begun to wrap its tentacles about Jack's mind.
When Lloyd asks, "How are things going, Mr. Torrance?" Jack explains, "Things could be better, Lloyd. Things could be a whole lot better." Jack continues:
"I never laid a hand on him, goddamn it. I didn't. I wouldn't touch one hair on his little goddamn little head. I love the little son of a bitch. I'd do anything for him, any fucking thing for him. But that bitch. As long as I live, she'll never let me forget what happened. I did hurt him once, okay? It was an accident. Completely unintentional. Could have happened to anybody. And it was three goddamn years ago. Little fucker had thrown all my papers all over the floor, all I tried to do, was pull him up. A momentary loss of muscular coordination. A few extra footpounds of energy per second, per second."
This is not the first sign of Jack's mental state. He had already shown signs of instability when he berated his wife Wendy for disturbing him while he was working.
|Jack Torrance:||Wendy, let me explain something to you. Whenever you come in here and interrupt me, you're breaking my concentration. You're distracting me. And it will then take me time to get back to where I was. You understand?|
|Jack Torrance:||Now, we're going to make a new rule. When you come in here and you hear me typing [types] or whether you DON'T hear me typing, or whatever the FUCK you hear me doing; when I'm in here, it means that I am working, THAT means don't come in. Now, do you think you can handle that?|
|Jack Torrance:||Good. Now why don't you start right now and get the fuck out of here? Hmm?|
When Wendy approaches Jack with her concern for Danny's condition, wanting to take him to receive medical attention, Jack goes into a tirade about how much responsibility weighs down on him.
"Have you ever had a SINGLE MOMENT'S THOUGHT about my responsibilities? Have you ever thought, for a single solitary moment about my responsibilities to my employers? Has it ever occurred to you that I have agreed to look after the OVERLOOK Hotel until May the FIRST. Does it MATTER TO YOU AT ALL that the OWNERS have placed 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? Do you have the SLIGHTEST IDEA, what a MORAL AND ETHICAL PRINCIPLE IS, DO YOU? Has it ever occurred to you what would happen to my future, if I were to fail to live up to my responsibilities? Has it ever occurred to you? HAS IT?"
Frightened, Wendy swings a bat and tells her husband, "Stay away from me!" Wendy affirmed Jack's insanity when she peeks at his manuscript project, only to find that every line of every page contains the phrase, "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy."
"Wendy? Darling? Light, of my life. I'm not gonna hurt ya. You didn't let me finish my sentence. I said, I'm not gonna hurt ya. I'm just going to bash your brains in...Gonna bash 'em right the fuck in! ha ha ha." - Jack Torrance
As Jack approaches, Wendy hits Jack in the head with the bat and then locks his unconscious body in the food pantry. As Wendy leaves, the ghostly Mr. Grady (Philip Stone) arrives to inform the now recovering Jack, "Your wife appears to be stronger than we imagined, Mr. Torrance. Somewhat more... resourceful. She seems to have got the better of you." Jack replies, For the moment, Mr. Grady. Only for the moment." Mr. Grady also said, "I feel you will have to deal with this matter in the harshest possible way, Mr. Torrance." Jack agrees, "There's nothing I look forward to with greater pleasure, Mr. Grady." Suddenly, the pantry door is unlocked and Jack continues on his rampage.
|Delbert Grady:||Did you know, Mr. Torrance, that your son is attempting to bring an outside party into this situation? Did you know that?|
|Delbert Grady:||He is, Mr. Torrance.|
|Delbert Grady:||A nigger.|
|Jack Torrance:||A nigger?|
|Delbert Grady:||A nigger cook.|
|Delbert Grady:||Your son has a very great talent. I don't think you are aware how great it is. That he is attempting to use that very talent against your will.|
|Jack Torrance:||He is a very willful boy.|
|Delbert Grady:||Indeed he is, Mr. Torrance. A very willful boy. A rather naughty boy, if I may be so bold, sir.|
|Jack Torrance:||It's his mother. She, uh, interferes.|
|Delbert Grady:||Perhaps they need a good talking to, if you don't mind my saying so. Perhaps a bit more. My girls, sir, they didn't care for the Overlook at first. One of them actually stole a pack of matches, and tried to burn it down. But I "corrected" them sir. And when my wife tried to prevent me from doing my duty, I "corrected" her.|
Even though Dick Halloran was miles away from the hotel, his shining ability alerted him of the danger that Danny and Wendy were facing and so he takes a plane and borrows a snowmobile to cut through the fallen snow to help them. But as he rushed into the hotel, Jack slams an axe into his chest and kills him. With that threat out of the way, Jack retrieves his fireman's axe and stalk his son and wife. “Come out, Come out wherever you are.” Danny runs owtisde the hotel while, Wendy Danny refuge in the bathroom, locking the door. As approaches the bathroom, he chants:
“Little pigs, little pigs, let me come in. Not by the hair of your chiny-chin-chin? Well then I'll huff and I'll puff, and I'll blow your house in.”
Jack uses his axe to chop a hole through the bathroom door. Then pushing his head through the opening, Jack maniacally announces, “Herrrreee’s Johnny!“ Wendy had tried to climb out of the bathroom window but it was too small. Her only defense is a kitchen knife that she uses to slash Jack's hand when he reaches through the borken door to unlock it. Wounded, Jack goes looking for easier prey...his son who escaped into the snow covered maze on the grounds of the hotel.
Spurred on by the malevolent evil that inhabits the hotel, Jack, with axe in hand pursues his son into the maze intent on killing him. But his son cleverly backtracks over his own steps and Jack follows the footprints into the maze where he loses his way and freezes to death. Then Wendy takes her son down the mountain to safety in the snowmobile left behind by Mr. Hallorann.
The last thing we see is a photograph hanging on the wall of the hotel (dated July 4th, 1921) of a group of former guests to the Overlook. Amidst the other revelers, we see the smiling face of Jack Torrance in a tuxedo as he waves to the camera. The image echoes the words spoken by Delbert Grady when he told Jack, "YOU are the caretaker. You've always been the caretaker."
Note: The greeting "Herrrreee’s Johnny!" is an homage to the late night greeting of TV late night talk show announcer Ed McMahon who introduced the show's host on nightly episodes of THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JOHNNY CARSON/NBC/1962-92.
The movie's line "Here's Johnny!" was voted as the #68 movie quote by the American Film Institute (out of 100), and as the #36 of "The 100 Greatest Movie Lines" by Premiere in 2007.
In 2010, a TV commercial for "Premier Inn" hotels (UK), British comedian Lenny Henry re-enacted Jack Nicholson's "Heeere's Johnny" scene ("Heeere's Lenny") in which, he demolishes a hotel bathroom door with an axe.
An alternative explanation of the origins of the "Here's Johnny" phrase comes from country music lore, wherein fans tell of the time that singer Johnny Cash used a fire axe to break a connecting "doorway" between two motel rooms where he and his band members were using during a musical tour.