The Shawshank Redemption

Question: Where would Andy have been able to get the $10 necessary to buy the rock hammer?

Matty Blast

Chosen answer: In the original novella it is revealed that Andy smuggled $500 into the prison inside of his rectum. During an interview in 2004 Robbins incorrectly quoted the amount as being $100. The narration up until Red's release is provided as Red writes his account of the events while still in prison, and employs the same method to smuggle the story out. But since the issue of Andy smuggling in $500 into the prison isn't addressed in the movie, we should assume that he smuggled it in. In addition to this, the wardens scams are described as "near slave labor." From this we can assume that it is possible the inmates are getting paid (an incredibly small) wage. Perhaps Andy, with his financial knowledge, knows how to haggle, barter and stretch a dollar. One last (but not as likely) scenario is that Red allows some sort of lay by system to inmates.

Question: Did the Warden know about the "Randall Stevens" character? At first it would seem that he didn't, since Andy used the identity to clean out the bank accounts and escape to Mexico. On the other hand, how could the Warden make deposits and withdrawals (before Andy's escape) from his bank accounts without noticing?

Matty Blast

Chosen answer: He probably only knows the name. He doesn't want to know anymore, so he can pin the blame on Andy should anything go wrong. He no doubt hasn't even considered that Andy might have ID so he can access the accounts after his escape.

Grumpy Scot

Question: What exactly is the scam Norton is running?

raph

Chosen answer: In a nutshell, tax evasion. He's running the prison like a company doing building work with, as its described by the builder in the movie, a pool of slave labour to allow him undercut other contractors. He is skimming profit for his own pockets, along with taking bribes, etc. that Andy's creative book keeping is hiding from the IRS.

Question: Why does Hadley beat the hell out of Boggs after he is released from the hole?

Carl Missouri

Chosen answer: Since Andy helped Hadley with the tax-free gift, Hadley realized that Andy could be of future financial use, which he can take advantage of considering he's in prison for two life-terms. The sisters beating up Andy would interfere with that-consider that Andy was in the infirmary for a very long time after the last attack. Beating up on Boggs sent a message to the sisters to leave Andy alone...or else.

randomguy

Answer: Norton had Hadley beat up Boggs because he and the Sisters would have eventually killed Andy and Norton needed him and his banking skills to cover up his scams.

Question: When Andy got Norton and Hadley arrested, how did he manage to prove that they murdered Tommy? How did he manage to prove that he wasn't trying to escape?

raph

Chosen answer: He provided the authorities (and the media) evidence of all the money-laundering and illegal activities that happened at Shawshank...any specific evidence he had regarding Tommy is not shown in the film, but it can be assumed that Hadley, as revealed in Red's narration, broke down and confessed. Andy never intended to prove he wasn't trying to escape...he DID escape, so any attempt by him to prove otherwise would have been met with skepticism. Also, as far as the authorities are concerned, all the evidence came from his alter ego, "Randall Stevens."

Question: Andy breaks out, grabs the money, and sends his evidence of wrongdoing to the newspapers. His evidence is so convincing that the cops arrest the head guard and the warden kills himself. So why does Andy hightail it to Mexico? The papers have the story of a lifetime. They're going to complete the investigation that the warden prevented. Andy's going to be a martyr and a hero and clear his name with family and friends. He'll get rich just suing the government for false imprisonment. So why does he opt for life on the lam? ("Don't worry, Red. They'll NEVER find us here in Mexico. You and me, we just blend in.")

Chosen answer: Andy is still under a life sentence for the murder of his wife. With Tommy dead, there's no one to corroborate the story that Elmo Blatch confessed, so it would be Andy's word against Elmo's. And since escaping from prison is a crime in itself, they'd be looking for him for that as well. Best to take the money and flee the country.

Captain Defenestrator Premium member

Answer: As stated before, the only witness to Elmo's confession was killed. So even the newspapers would not likely turn up any evidence admissible in court. Not to mention that Elmo's confession doesn't expressly state who the parties were. He says a golf pro but that seems to be the main description that could be used to identify any party which in itself is almost worthless. Also keep in mind the times and Era this takes place. You didn't have the groups, or even public sway, that would fight for innocence. While corruption isn't new, even in these times, from officials and such... There is still a relative belief by the general public that officials are always right and criminals are always guilty and liars. Think of it like this, even today... It is still incredibly hard to get a judgment overturned or voided and that's with groups like the innocence project and general public aware of innocent people given guilty sentences... Back then, it would have been an almost foregone conclusion for most appeals to always be denied and would have taken a mountain of evidence, credible evidence, to sway a judgment in favor of the defense. Also as to suing the government... That's far from any realization. First, it's hard to sue the government and in many cases is immune to liability, i.e. Can't be sued... But consider the time and Era again... Courts don't like admitting errors NOW, so back in that Era... I'd seriously doubt any judge would've even heard a lawsuit against the government if it weren't outright refused by the governments exemption from liability claims. Also, keep in mind that it wasn't a court that convicted him but a jury of his peers. Finally, overshadowing all of what I mentioned above is Andy Dufrane himself. What reason... What reason at all should Andy have ANY faith that he'd be exonerated. Forget about the crime of escaping the prison and whether he'd serve time for that or got a sympathetic judge who would have written that off either as time he's already served for a crime he didn't commit or because had the judicial system not failed him initially with a wrongful conviction, he wouldn't have HAD an opportunity to break the law. Why should Andy have ANY faith that events he set in motion would ever result with his conviction overturned. He couldn't foretell the warden taking his own life and no one would've believed a convict or taken his word over anything else. So needless to say, there is every reason for him to "high-tail-it" as far as he can go. Remember that jury of his peers... He's already been an innocent man sent to prison for a crime he didn't commit... Why in all heck would he ever believe that anybody would think differently if he stayed. No... Given the times and situations involved... Andy made the correct decision.

Question: Is it really possible to destroy an iron pipe with a single rock?

Loesjuh1985

Answer: Sewer and drainage pipes from the 19th century until only about 40 years ago were cast iron. It is a thick but fairly brittle metal, especially if it was older and beginning to deteriorate. It is theoretically possible to rupture the pipe with a rock, although probably not as easy as it appeared. Note I said "theoretically."

Chosen answer: In the book the main drain pipes in Shawshank are ceramic, which is why Andy is able to break through. There is nothing in the movie to indicate the pipes are metal and not ceramic.

Guy

Question: Why would Andy get Hadley arrested? He saved him from the sisters. And what happened to Hadley after he got arrested? Was he put in Shawshank?

jawsant

Chosen answer: Hadley was a cruel, brutal man who repeatedly beat inmates, in some cases so badly that they died. He was directly responsible for, or an accomplice to, multiple crimes up to and including premeditated murder. By any standards, the guy deserves arrest, conviction and punishment. He may have saved Andy from the Sisters, but that was purely because Andy was useful to both him and the warden with his financial acumen. Hadley stepping in was purely down to self-interest, not any interest in inmate welfare. After all, the Sisters have clearly targetted other prisoners prior to Andy, without any apparent reaction from the prison staff. As for Hadley's eventual fate, it's not revealed.

Tailkinker Premium member

Question: When did Andy bury the box?

Chosen answer: It's never explicitly stated in the film. All we know is, he buried it after he escaped and before Red found it.

Dra9onBorn117

Question: I have a few questions. Were the conditions in the film and book the way they were in reality? Like did they really have movie theaters back then? If it was reality, what happened in the penal system that changed penitentiaries to become more "strict"?

Chosen answer: This question is a bit vague and open to multiple answers, but here's one. Shawshank is a fictional prison, an amalgamation of the general federal penitentiary system of the 1940s-1960s, and as such depicts elements common to prisons of the era. Many penal colonies had movie theaters and other entertainment for the prisoners...it depended on a lot of factors, from the crimes committed by the inmates, to the laws of the particular state, to the inclinations and philosophies of the warden. Most prisons nowadays still have these amenities...they haven't become "more strict" since the time period depicted in the film. And, just as now, prisons like Shawshank had guards that were more or less brutal towards the inmates, inmates who worked for the guards (unofficially), corrupt wardens who exploited the prisoners' labor, draconian punishments, etc.

Question: While Andy is in solitary for 2 months, who is doing all of the paperwork for the warden's scams?

Chosen answer: Presumably he just let it pile up or stopped running schemes for a bit.

Greg Dwyer

Question: How is it that Andy is able to frame the warden for money laundering without incriminating himself in the process?

Melanie Elsworthy

Chosen answer: Andy created the books so that everything was in the name of the Randall Stevens alias he created. The real books pointed to Warden Norton AND Randall Stevens, but didn't have Andy's name on them. As far as the law knows, Norton's accomplice was a guy named Randall Stevens who skipped town with the money before ratting him out.

Captain Defenestrator Premium member

Question: In the trial at the start of the movie, we see a flashback of Andy walking with his gun. Where exactly was he? Was that a real flashback, or just what the prosecutor was assuming happened? Did Andy actually almost kill his wife but decide against it?

raph

Chosen answer: Andy showed up at his wife's lover's house, either to kill them or just threaten them. He had a change of heart and left. Unfortunately, his fingerprints were all over the bullets and liquor bottle he left at the scene, which was pretty damning.

Brian Katcher

Question: What was Andy's motive for telling Hadley the procedures of tax evasions?

Chosen answer: Like Red said, it could be to get the guards on his side, or to help the other inmates like him, or to do something to feel normal again.

Greg Dwyer

Question: How come Hadley was arrested for Tommy's murder but nobody cares about Fat Ass's murder? There were hundreds of witnesses.

raph

Chosen answer: 1) This is almost twenty years down the road. Many of those witnesses are either gone from the prison, dead, or may have forgotten any details. 2) Hadley beat Fatass because he wouldn't stop talking, breaking the rules. Tommy was just standing there talking to the warden. It's cold blooded murder vs. Simple brutality. 3) Prisoners are often reluctant to testify against guards because of fear of retribution from other guards.

Greg Dwyer

Question: It looks to me like Andy works in a laundry in the prison. If thats so how come they get sheets delivered from the outside? It looks that way to me when the rock hammer is delivered.

Chosen answer: They take in other laundry to help fund the prison, probably from local hotels or hospitals.

Myridon

Question: Is what Andy Dufresne says about victims biting down when they have sudden brain injury true? Or is he just making it up so the sisters won't stab him?

Chosen answer: It's true.

Grumpy Scot

Answer: It's not true. But he came across as educated and convinced them it was true...He further put reluctance into them by basically saying "try it and see what happens..."

Question: I am wondering if the scene at the tree in Buxton where Freeman goes to keep his promise to Andy, is the same tree location used in the movie Robin Hood with Morgan Freeman? It sure does look to be the same rock fence and tree on a hill.

Mariellen Lamb

Chosen answer: Nope, while there is a similarity, the two locations are on different continents. The Shawshank Redemption shot those scenes in Ohio, while Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves shot almost entirely in the UK, with a few scenes shot in France.

Question: I don't think this is ever answered in the movie, so could someone tell me approximately how much time has elapsed since Andy's escape, until he meets up with Red on the beach in Mexico? Or until Red gets paroled?

Chosen answer: Andy escapes from Shawshank in August 1966, as evidenced by the date on the paper that Norton reads shortly before his suicide. Red's parole comes up the following year, 1967, exact date unknown. He then works at the store for an unspecified but short period of time before fulfilling his promise to Andy to go and find the box buried in the field - from the greenery visible, most likely in the mid-to-late summer - and he then heads to Mexico. In all likelihood, the total time between Andy's escape and he and Red being united is about a year, give or take a couple of months either way.

Tailkinker Premium member

Plausible, but the question asked if the real time frame/date was addressed in the movie. I believe the answer is No. The date of escape was stated as 1966, but Red's release date was not formally indicated.

Question: This applies to most prison movies, but is most prevalent in Shawshank. How, roughly, would a prison contraband system like what Red has set up work? It's made clear that Red can get pretty much anything, for the right price, and it's shown that the contraband he "orders" comes in with laundry and the like - so he obviously has somebody on the outside that finds out what Red needs, buys it, and then has it smuggled in. But how does Red get his "order" out? And what's in it for the outside contacts? They're paying for the posters, whiskey, playing cards, etc with their money and taking a risk by sneaking it into the prison. what is Red doing to make it worth their while? I know prisoners make money for their work but it's a very small amount and there's no way he could earn enough to make a profit. Red has a life sentence, so he can't promise his buddies on the outside (smuggling in the goods) that he'll pay them back when he gets out. Also, on the inside (of every prison movie ever) prisoners always do their bartering with packs of cigarettes as currency. Where do all these smokes come from? Do prisons issue rations of cigarettes? They can't all be contraband.

Chosen answer: Since very little is mentioned about Red's life outside of prison, any number of possibilities could exist. Perhaps Red comes from a wealthy family with connections. Perhaps Red became very good friends with a former guard who still makes sure his little system works. It would appear that all of the guards and even the warden know about the system but do nothing about it figuring that it keeps morale from getting low.

Damian Torres

Answer: Taking into account a few dollars to someone in prison is valuable...It seems as if Red has a contact on the outside who simply provides him with requested items. Red probably sends money to the source in reverse of how the items are sent in. Each person who touches it (the loading dock guy, the source, etc.) probably gets a piece of Red's take.

Question: Andy Dufrense sent the accounting ledger to the Portland Daily Bugle, this is how they found out about the fraud schemes, but how did they find out about the murder of Tommy Williams? It was in the headline "Corruption, Murder at Shawshank"

Chosen answer: The information about Tommy's death was in the letter that Andy sent along with the ledger. In it, he explained everything that was happening at Shawshank. He sent the accounting ledger as well because he knew that: a)without proof, the letter would be ignored and: b)that the fraud and corruption would be the only thing that would actually get the warden and Hadley arrested as there was no proof of Tommy's murder.

Guy

Question: Stupid, random question but I'll ask anyway. If there was a grate in the pipe that he escaped from, Andy would'be been screwed at that point huh?

Chosen answer: To put it mildly. Red addresses it in his narration in the novella: "Here's a joke even funnier than the parole would have been: Andy breaks into the sewer line, crawls through five hundred yards of choking, shit-smelling darkness, and comes up against a heavy-gauge mesh screen at the end of it all. Ha, ha, very funny."

Question: I'm not sure if this is an actual mistake or a question: when Andy is escaping, we see him climb down something before he leaves the prison, (scaffolding, I think) and he is wearing boots or shoes of some kind. How could he do that since he left his shoes in the shoebox for the warden to find? The warden's shoes were safely tucked away in the plastic bag Andy had attached to his foot by the rope. It wasn't like he could carry a spare pair when he went to the warden's office to close up for the night.

Chosen answer: Either prisoners are given more than one pair or Andy obtained another. He does have a lot of pull at the prison. Getting another pair of shoes would be trivial for him.

Grumpy Scot

Question: What is the white powder made out of that they throw on them at the beginning of the movie? I mean, I know it is a delousing agent, but what specifically is it? What is it made out of?

rstill

Chosen answer: It's an insecticide (probably DDT, which was in wide use in the late 1940's) to rid the body of lice before prisoners are admitted into the prison. With all the bodily contact in a prison, a lice infestation would not only affect the inmates but the guards as well. It's also a health hazard.

Question: What was the name of the fake person that Andy helped Warden Norton create?

Answer: Randall Stephens. And strictly speaking, he didn't "help" Norton create the fake person...he did it on his own initiative, to launder Norton's ill-gotten gains. If Norton knew about Randall Stephens at all, he likely didn't understand the purpose but trusted that Andy was doing it for his (Norton's) own good.

Question: Is the bank teller the same actress shown on the parole board when Red is paroled?

Chosen answer: No. Although IMDb lists the bank teller as Claire Slemmer, her list of credits does not include being on the parole board. The actress playing the board member is not even listed in the credits.

lartaker1975

Question: If Norton had helped Andy get a new trial, would it really work? There was no evidence that Elmo Blatch committed the murders.

raph

Chosen answer: The sole piece of evidence was to be Tommy's testimony, which could have exonerated Andy even if it didn't prove that Blatch was the killer. When Tommy was murdered by Hadley under orders from Norton, that ended any chance of Andy getting a new trial.

zendaddy621

Answer: I would say that Andy getting a NEW trial would be virtually impossible. For a prisoner to get a new trial, their attorney has to file an appeal with any information "supposedly" exonerating their client and/or proves some kind of malfeasance or errors in the original trial. Now courts rarely like to ever grant new trials to begin with so one must have awfully damning evidence to get one. I can only surmise that it would've been even harder during that Era than now as well. Now here's the problem or rub for Andy. All of the evidence, which is to say one piece in the testimony, wouldn't likely even be allowed into record or entry as evidence. First, it would likely fall under the here-say rules and deemed inadmissible in court... However, say even Tommy stayed alive and testified to what he knew and it could be entered in as evidence, it would do nothing without verification/corroboration. Now I can't remember if anything was said to whatever became of Elmo Blatch... I never read the book either so I can't say... But HAD Mr Blatch still been alive at that point, he would have been investigated and interviewed. If any evidence was found that pointed to Mr Blatch and/or Mr Blatch admitted his guilt, only then would Andy likely have enough for a new trial which would almost certainly end with Andy's conviction vacated especially if Blatch admitted it. However, via the film, all evidence leads to Andy and there's almost no chance Blatch would have admitted his own guilt especially since he relished the fact that someone else was paying for his crime. The only hope Andy would have had is that Mr Blatch had at least one or more other cell mates that he also spilled his guts to. Then Andy might have some hope that enough admissible testimony might award him a new trial. Problem is that none of that would have completely exonerated him and he'd just be retried. Which would still point to him because even if they could prove that Blatch had been in the area and his "supposed" confession, it would be circumstantial evidence and not likely to overcome the physical evidence that pointed straight at Andy. Hence Andy would just be back into jail. There's a lot that would have to go right or break Andy's way for him to get exonerated. He was the perfect patsy which was even an intended outcome by Blatch.

Question: When Andy tells the warden how Tommy knows who really murdered his wife, the warden sympathetically says that Tommy made up the story to impress Andy, and he's surprised that Andy believed it. He also says they'd never be able to find that Elmo guy, and even if they did, he'd never confess. Isn't the warden essentially admitting he thinks that Andy is not guilty? Otherwise he'd just say 'I don't believe you, I know you were the one who killed your wife.'.

Brian Katcher

Chosen answer: The warden doesn't care whether Andy is innocent or guilty, only that his money-making schemes continue (with Andy's help).

Jason Hoffman

Question: What is the music played just after Red is released for prison? The instrumental that plays while Red tries to figure out life on the outside?

Chosen answer: The piece of music is an original composition for the film titled "So Was Red," and is available on the soundtrack album.

Michael Albert

Question: With so many bank accounts under a phony name, where were all the monthly bank statements going?

mrfrede

Answer: Bank statements weren't mailed as they were in more recent times. In those days, when you went to the bank, a passbook or ledger was updated and provided to you. Remember, in those times everything was hand-written and manually recorded. Statements weren't created automatically and mass-mailed.

Chosen answer: Possibly post office boxes, or maybe even to the prison directly.

Captain Defenestrator Premium member

Question: Why does Andy go to Norton (warden) about the information that Tommy provides him rather than see his lawyer? While he may not think Norton would go to the lengths he did to keep him there, what advantage would seeing the warden before a lawyer do?

Lummie Premium member

Chosen answer: You're right--it's a character mistake, but an explainable one. Andy probably figured that because he was doing so much work for the Warden (accounting for dirty money, kickbacks, tax compliance, etc.), that the Warden would use his power to get Andy a new trial. Sounds like a fair trade--Andy makes sure there's no way for anyone to disover the illegality of the laundering, and the Warden gets Andy pardoned. What Andy didn't realize, however, was that the Warden didn't want to risk having Andy, after his pardon & release, reveal the details of the illegal schemes that were going on. So to make sure Andy got the message that he was going nowhere and would reveal nothing, he was give the two months in solitary confinement (as you know from the movie, of course).

Matty Blast

Answer: It was the 1940's to 1960's. Prisoners did not have the same rights and access to the legal system as they do today. Look what happened when a new prisoner cried...In those days all they had to say was "he got out of line and we had to beat him and he died." Prisons were not scrutinized - they were there to hold "bad" people and no one really cared what went on in them.

Question: Towards the beginning, after the guard captain beats up the fat guy, the says "call the trustees and have them take him to the infirmary." What are the "trustees"?

rstill

Chosen answer: As referenced in this movie, trustees are prisoners that have earned the right to work in parts of the prison - in this case, the hospital wing. The name implies that they can be trusted to do the required work with minimal supervision.

BGraz

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Quotes

Red: There's not a day goes by I don't feel regret. Not because I'm in here, or because you think I should. I look back on the way I was then: a young, stupid kid who committed that terrible crime. I want to talk to him. I want to try and talk some sense to him, tell him the way things are. But I can't. That kid's long gone and this old man is all that's left. I got to live with that. Rehabilitated? It's just a bullshit word. So you go on and stamp your form, sonny, and stop wasting my time. Because to tell you the truth, I don't give a shit.

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Mistakes

When Red is sitting under the oak tree in 1967 and pulls the money out of the envelope, the top bill is signed by Nicholas F. Brady, who was Secretary of the Treasury September 1988 - January 1993. It's less about reading the handwriting as noting the different appearance of different signatures from different eras.

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Trivia

There are many references to the number 237 in the movie. For instance, this is the number of Red's cell, and these digits are on Andy's prison I.D. This number makes appearances throughout Steven King stories, the most famous one being the room where the murders take place in "The Shining".

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