On "Oprah", Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman said the "farting in the phone booth" bit was improvised when Hoffman actually passed gas while the scene was being filmed. Hoffman said it was his favorite scene ever.
The scene in the airport was cut by most airlines on their plane trips... except Qantas. They even promoted one of the movie's writers to first class once when he traveled on their airline.
The elderly man in the waiting room who talks on and on about the Pony Express is Byron P. Cavnar, an 89-year-old local who was in the waiting room when the crew arrived to film there. He got to talking on his favorite subject, the Pony Express, and director Barry Levinson got such a kick out of it that he let Caunar keep on talking as the cameras rolled; all his dialog was spontaneous and not scripted.
During filming, Dustin Hoffman was unsure of the film's potential and his own performance. Three weeks into the project, Hoffman wanted out, telling director Barry Levinson, "Get Richard Dreyfuss, get somebody, Barry, because this is the worst work of my life." Hoffman would nab his second Best Actor Academy Award for his work.
Dustin Hoffman spent a lot of time with savant Kim Peek, the inspiration for Raymond's character. Rain Man writer Barry Morrow first met Peek in 1986, and on winning an Oscar for the screenplay of "Rain Man" in 1989, gave his Oscar trophy to Kim Peek. Hoffman made Kim's father (the main caregiver) a promise that he would "share [Kim] with the world." For nearly 20 years until his death, Kim Peek went all over the world impressing people with his incredible memory and ability to recall minute details from centuries of history.
What Raymond says about Qantas was, and still is true. As of 2015, Qantas has never lost a jet airliner.
During filming, both Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise doubted the movie's potential and jokingly called it, "Two Schmucks in a Car".
During the shooting of the casino scenes, Dustin Hoffman would go off and play games like blackjack. After production was halted to look for him, someone was assigned to watch him during takes.
After being interviewed by the psychiatrist, Raymond (Dustin Hoffman) leans his head against Charlie's and says "My main man Charlie". This was unscripted, and improvised by Hoffman.
The film first opened with a disappointing $6 million in sales. However, in the following weeks, it generated great word of mouth amongst movie viewers, allowing the movie to steadily climb up to the number 1 slot.
Dustin Hoffman was originally to play the part of Charlie Babbit, but after being moved to tears seeing a savant named Leslie Lemke (who is blind, mentally handicapped, and has cerebral palsy) play full concertos on the piano by ear, he decided to play the part of Raymond instead.
Dustin Hoffman insisted that Raymond Babbitt should be an autistic savant, instead of being mentally disabled. His insistence was largely responsible for Martin Brest quitting the project.
Tom Cruise always wanted to rehearse while filming. He and Dustin Hoffman rehearsed while driving to the set, and in their trailers during takes. They frequently switched roles.
Dustin Hoffman spent a year working with autistic men and their families to understand their complex relationships. Also, when he was a jobbing actor, he had worked in a psychiatric care home, and drew from his experiences then for the film.
Barry Levinson admitted that Ray's comment about Qantas being the only aircraft company to never have had a fatal crash was made up, and that he didn't know if this was true. In reality, Qantas has had eight crashes, all prior to the making of the film, but they were all propeller-driven planes, not jets.
The script was originally written with real-life brothers Randy Quaid and Dennis Quaid in mind.
Barry Levinson specifically instructed composer Hans Zimmer to avoid strings in his score as he felt it would make the film too sentimental.
The script originally had Raymond as happy and friendly, but after an initial reading Dustin Hoffman successfully lobbied for Raymond to be a withdrawn autistic.
Raymond memorizes a phone book up to the names Marsha and William Gottsegen - Dustin Hoffman's real-life in-laws.
In the movie when Charlie removes Raymond from Walbrook, we see them walking down a long oak tree lined driveway. In 2007 many of these oak trees had become diseased, forcing their removal (replacements were to be planted). Before the trees were cut down, several people came to the grounds of the convent and recreated the scene where Raymond and Charlie walk down the drive
Barry Levinson shot most of the exchanges between Charlie and Raymond in profile because Raymond refuses to make eye contact with anyone he's talking to.
The part of Susanna had originally been written as a WASPish blonde woman. By having a foreigner play the role, whose native tongue wasn't English, it allowed for Tom Cruise's character to do a lot of exposition.
Hoffman's former New York roommate, Gene Hackman, was vying with him for Best Actor for Mississippi Burning (1988). When Hoffman won, he hugged Hackman as he left his seat on the way to the podium where he affectionately mentioned Hackman in his acceptance speech. He failed to mention Tom Cruise however.
(29 March 1989) When Dustin Hoffman's Best Actor Oscar was presented to him by Michael Douglas, the words that preceded the announcement of Hoffman's name were, "...and the Oscar goes to..." which, for the first time, had replaced the traditional line, "...and the winner is...", etc. The Academy had made the switch for discretionary purposes, and the practice has been in effect ever since 1989.
The diner scene where Raymond counts toothpicks after the waitress spills them on the floor was filmed at Pompilio's Restaurant in Newport, Kentucky. Today, Pompilio's has a "bas relief" mural on one wall, which features velvet-sewn figures of Raymond and Charlie in their Buick Roadmaster, parked in front of the restaurant. The actual bronzed toothpicks that Dustin Hoffman counted in the scene are attached to the mural.
The radio station slogan that Raymond is so fond of repeating, "97X - Bam! - The future of rock and roll", is from a real independent Ohio radio station, WOXY. The station still fields questions about the movie.
For in-flight viewing, several airlines deleted the sequence in which Raymond reels off statistics on airline accidents.
Screenwriter Barry Morrow chose the name of the film by reading through a book of names, deciding which sounded most interesting when mispronounced. He eventually narrowed it down to four names, including "Rain Man" for Raymond and "No-Man" for Norman. Marrow decided that Rain Man was the best. In order to see if this instinct was correct, he asked his children which of the four they preferred and all agreed with his choice.
Barry Levinson turned down the movie when it was first offered to him. He made Good Morning, Vietnam (1987) instead. After several directors backed out later, however, he took it on.
Dustin Hoffman was originally supposed to play Charlie, but he wanted to play Raymond. Raymond was also supposed to be mentally disabled, but Hoffman changed it to an autistic savant.
At one point, "Rain Man" was the biggest grossing Best Picture Oscar-winner. It was subsequently surpassed by Forrest Gump (1994) which had been put into development at a rival studio at roughly the same time.
The number 3762 seen on the windscreen of a car is Tom Cruise's birthday - 3 July '62.
Shot in sequential order, roughly following the actual road trip that the characters take.
Although they share co-screenwriting credit, Barry Morrow and Ronald Bass never met until the numerous awards ceremonies they attended when the film started garnering multiple awards.
Steven Spielberg considered directing. He began making notes in order to prepare for the project. The reason he backed out is because his friend George Lucas needed him to start work on Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989). So Spielberg left the project and gave his notes to Barry Levinson. Sydney Pollack was the next director to work on the film. He ditched an action sequence in which Charlie saves Raymond from some thugs but he wasn't keen on the idea of a road movie.
One of the 1949 Buick Roadmasters that was featured in this film went up for auction in late 2012. It was purchased by an anonymous collector for $170,500.
J.T. Walsh was originally supposed to play the psychiatrist at the end of the movie. When he couldn't, Barry Levinson filled in, after Hoffman suggested it. Levinson said if he didn't like the way it looked, he would have someone else film it. He ad-libbed repeatedly to "push Cruise's buttons".
The Amarillo, Texas motel scene was actually filmed at the Big 8 Motel in El Reno, Oklahoma. The motel maintained the sign used in the film that read: "Amarillo's Finest." Before the motel closed down, guests sometimes requested to stay in the same room where Raymond and Charlie stayed, room #117. The motel has since been demolished.
One of the comments written on a preview card that amused Barry Levinson during the film's initial previews was "I was hoping the little guy would snap out of it".
Warner Brothers had, at one point, the opportunity to make both "Rain Man" and Forrest Gump (1994) but ended up with neither because of concerns they were too similar. Peter Guber and Jon Peters' production company, which had picked up the script for "Rain Man", had a first look deal with the studio. However, Roger Birnbaum, an executive with the production company, felt that because Warner Brothers was also developing "Forrest Gump", they would likely let "Rain Man" die if they were to pick it up, because of the script's perceived similarity. So, reportedly, he purposely gave a weak pitch to the studio in the hopes that they would reject it and allow it to be pitched to another studio. This did in fact occur and United Artists ended up making the film. After the movie's enormous success, Warner Brothers decided to pass on "Forrest Gump" because they felt that audiences would be unlikely to go to a movie with such a similar theme as "Rain Man". "Forrest Gump," which most people would consider to be an entirely different type of film than "Rain Man", ended up being made by Paramount and became one of the most successful movies of all time, grossing almost $330,000,000 in U.S. theaters.
"Wallbrook", the building at the back of the long, tree lined drive, is actually Saint Anne's, a convent that houses over 200 nuns, and is located in Melbourne, Kentucky.
Dustin Hoffman is 24 years, 10 months, and 25 days older than Tom Cruise, who plays his younger brother.
Ronald Bass's handwritten final rewrites were submitted on the very day that the writer's strike started.
Early in the film, when the lawyer is reading the will to Charlie, Charlie says "I definitely got the rose bushes, I have definitely got the rose bushes." This foreshadows Raymond's extensive use of the word "definitely" later on.
Holds the unique distinction of being the only film to have won the Berlin Film Festival Golden Bear and a best picture Academy Award.
At one point Sydney Pollack let his friend Barry Levinson read the screenplay. Levinson was much taken with it. One evening, whilst driving across the desert, he saw a cluster of windmills on the horizon. He turned to his wife and said that it would make a perfect backdrop for a scene with Charlie and his girlfriend. Seven weeks before shooting, Pollack called Levinson and told him that he should make the movie. With a writers' strike looming, Levinson had to agree immediately.
There were two classic 1949 Buick Roadmasters that were used for filming. The rear suspension on the cars were modified to accommodate the extra weight of the camera equipment as well as the cameraman who shot the action from the trunk.
Raymond states that his underwear is from the K-Mart on Oak and Burnet. This address is actually for the Vernon Manor Hotel in Cincinnati, the hotel where Charlie, Raymond and Suzanna stay in the beginning of the movie.
The script originally called for two farm kids, but after Catherine Dougherty brought six of her seven sons to audition for the part, the script was re-written to include the six boys. The boys also have an older brother and one younger sister.
The movie playing on the hotel television when Charlie and Susanna are making love is Sweet Smell of Success which was also referenced in Levinson's Diner (by a character who recited dialog from the movie).
Dr.Bruner says that he is trustee of Raymond's inheritance fund but the hospital receives nothing from that. His medical bills including Walbrook are most likely paid for by Medicaid. Raymond qualifies because he has a severe mental disability. His personal items and needs are taken care of by the fund.
The song "Iko-Iko" played during the opening credits also plays during the opening credits of Mission: Impossible II (2000), also starring Cruise. Both films are also scored by Hans Zimmer.
Ronald Bass's first involvement with the film (when Martin Brest was attached) all took place over the phone as he was suffering from adult chicken pox at the time. As both Brest and Dustin Hoffman's wives were pregnant at the time, no one actually wanted to sit down for a face-to-face meeting with him.
The "Blackjack" dealer at Caesars Palace is named Nick Mazzola. He was also the "War" dealer in the movie "Vegas Vacation" as well as a dealer in the movie "Casino". In real life, Nick was actually a real Blackjack dealer at Caesars Palace in the 1970s and 1980s.
Several of the Las Vegas casinos seen in the film have been replaced (The Algiers and Stardust, for example). But the original 1966 Caesars Palace tower is still there. Over the years it has been remodeled to match the newer towers on the property.
Charlie Babbitt's car was a 1983 Ferrari 400 i, a front-engined V12 2+2 grand tourer.
The town where Charlie takes Raymond to a doctor is Guthrie, Oklahoma, which can be seen written on a water tower as well as the window of the clinic.
The cargo being off-loaded from the freighter in the opening scenes comprises a number of Italian sports cars, specifically, the Lamborghini Countach, a vehicle that was in production from 1974-1990.
Bonnie Hunt, who plays waitress "Sally Dibbs", also starred with Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire (1996)
Hans Zimmer's musical score lasts less than 12 minutes. It consists of two tracks, Leaving Wallbrook/On The Road and Las Vegas/End Credits, the first of which appears at various intervals throughout the film.
Raymond tells Iris that Charlie's birthday is August 12, 1962. This is actually only 40 days off from Tom Cruise's actual birthday of July 3, 1962.
Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
The song playing near the beginning of the film is Johnny Clegg and Jaluka "Scatterlings of Africa". Clegg is known as the white Zulu.
The first of a few directing and starring collaborations between Barry Levinson and Dustin Hoffman.
The scene where Charlie takes Raymond to the doctor in Guthrie, OK was filmed at the inthersection of Division Street and Oklahoma Avenue. The sidewalk Dustin Hoffman freezes in crosses Oklahoma Avenue. The "Guthrie Clinic" is located in the building on the Northeast corner of the intersection with the lettering being on the window over the door on the diagonal face of the building looking Southwest.
Dustin Hoffman said the "hot water burn baby" bathtub scene was one he dreaded filming because he was unsure of how to play it. Ultimately he channeled his anger and frustration about doing the scene to convey the emotions of Raymond.
On the back of the VHS case it says: director Barry Levinson (Good Morning, Vietnam) as Levinson directed that film in 1987 the year before this film.
Bonnie Hunt has a cameo as a waitress in a scene with Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman. She co-starred with Robin Williams in Jumanji (1995). Hoffman and Williams co-starred in Hook (1991).
The radio station 97 bam was on the fm dial. A 1949 buick only had an AM radio so it could not recieve that channel in that car
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