Writer/director Frank Darabont’s adaptation of King’s story “Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption” has a terrible title (maybe he should have kept the movie goddess in there), which probably accounts for the film’s initial poor reception at the box office. But over the past 19 years, it’s become one of the most beloved of all movies, thanks to its depiction of male friendship amid adversity (in this case, during a lifetime of imprisonment), its third-act plot twist, and its atypically upbeat ending (marked by Morgan Freeman’s “I hope…” speech).
Indeed, the movie is the key illustration of the principal that there is no movie that can’t be improved by casting Morgan Freeman in it (on the page, his character Red was Irish), since he brings to the table his quiet dignity, wry humor, and golden throat. That’s not to slight Tim Robbins, who plays it very close to the vest as Red’s pal Andy Dufresne, whose secrets are revealed in due time over the course of the film.
Here’s where you have to admire the storytelling skills of King and Darabont (who also wrote the screenplay). No scene is wasted; every moment has a payoff, eventually. As satisfying as it is for the viewer to see Andy and Red get their just desserts, it’s even more satisfying to be conned by expert yarn-spinners, and then to see all the puzzle pieces fall into place.
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