The film is directed by Rob Reiner, and features a cast of Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, Jerry O'Connell (in his first motion picture role), Kiefer Sutherland, Richard Dreyfuss and John Cusack.
It takes it's title from the Ben E. King song of the same name from 1953 which plays during the end credits of the film.
The film was distributed by Columbia Tristar Entertainment and originally given a limited theatrical release. Later it received a full theatrical release, to which it received great critical reception and has been revered of something of a classic and audience favorite.
The film begins with a man parked within his car overlooking a field possessing a newspaper article reading: "Attorney Christopher Chambers fatally stabbed."
He then narrates the story of his childhood during the summer holidays leading back up to school and Labor Day in 1959. He is a boy named Gordon "Gordie" LaChance whom hangs out with stereotypically misjudged Chrisopher "Chris" Chambers, Psychologically father strained Theodore "Teddy" Duchamp and obese little clumsy boy Vern Tessio.
Vern comes to them at their Castle Rock, Oregon Treehouse one day and inquires to whether they would like to see a dead body.
He tells of how whilst digging for his long lost beneath the house buried pennies, he heard from his gang related brother and his friend that a kid their age named Ray Browers had been hit by a train by the old Harlow Road in Castle Rock.
The boys then venture off on the promise of becoming stars for discovering the body and the cool appeal of seeing a dead body for the first time. They have a run in with the local Castle Rock Junkman, Milo Pressman, whom is rumored to possess a testicle fetching fearsome dog named Chopper.
Their encounter with Milo brings strain down on Teddy as he becomes firstly enraged then upset at Milo's remarks to his institutionalized father in Tocus. The boys head on whilst Vern's brother and his gang led by the fearsome Ace Merril to whom stole Gordie's dead brother Dennis' hat given to him prepare to go out and recover the body.
The four boys come to a Trestle Bridge and have a terrifying encounter with a train, and then transgress a deep marsh containing leeches to which one attaches itself to one of Gordie's testicles.
The kids then finally reach the dead body of Ray Browers and Gordie suffers an emotional breakdown believing it should be him that died in the jeep accident which claimed the life of his brother Dennis and that his father hates him.
He is comforted by Chris before Ace and his gang show up.
Vern flees upon being threatened by his brother and then Teddy himself flees upon Ace drawing a knife on Chris. Gordie pulls out the gun they had brought and threatens Ace to which leads Ace and his gang to abandon the site.
The four boys then decide to phone in an anonymous call pertaining to the discovery of Ray Browers' dead body.
They then head back to Castle Rock and part ways. The older Gordie serving as the narrator then tells as the boys depart their fates.
Vern and Teddy fall out of contact with Gordie and Chris and soon become just another face in the halls as their lives go in different directions.
Vern marries out of high school and has two kids while working as the forklift operator of his own Castle Rock Business.
Teddy tries out for the Army but is rejected on account of his hearing and eyesight, and as a result plunges him into reckless behavior which lands him ultimately in jail.
Upon getting out reverts to a life of living out odd jobs around Castle Rock.
Chris and Gordie enroll in the college courses together and Chris goes on to become a hotshot attorney.
Chris is killed at a fast food line by a man in an argument with another that he tries to break up.
He is stabbed in the throat and killed almost instantly as a result.
Gordie himself is then seen again older at his home typing out the autobiography of this and being nagged by his son and son's friend to take them out to the beach which he has been keeping them waiting on.
He types that simply: "All though he hasn't seen Chris for almost ten years he knows he will miss him forever and that he has never had any friends like the ones he did when he was twelve years old."
- Richard Dreyfuss as Gordie Lachance (adult)
- Wil Wheaton as Gordie Lachance (age 12)
- River Phoenix as Chris Chambers
- Jerry O'Connell as Vern Tessio
- Corey Feldman as Teddy Duchamp
- John Cusack as Denny Lachance
- Kiefer Sutherland as "Ace" Merrill
- Bradley Gregg as "Eyeball" Chambers
- Casey Siemaszko as Billy Tessio
- Gary Riley as Charlie Hogan
- Marshall Bell as Mr. Lachance
- Frances Lee McCain as Mrs. Lachance
- Bruce Kirby as Mr. Quidacioluo
- Jason Oliver as Vince Desjardins
- William Bronder as Milo Pressman
- Kent W. Luttrell as Ray Brower (the body)
- Podgorski, Daniel (December 17, 2015). "Unromantic Nostalgia: The Fantastic Rendering of Childhood in Rob Reiner’s Stand by Me". The Gemsbok. Your Thursday Theater.