When Tommy goes out into the yard to talk to Warden Norton, Warden Norton offers him a cigarette. The pack of Marlboros that he offers him has Marlboro Miles on them, which weren't around until the 1990s.
When they are on the roof during the tar job, in either 1949 or 1950, Andy tells Hadley that the IRS allows a gift to a spouse tax free. At that time, the IRS was known as the Bureau of Internal Revenue. It did not become known as the IRS until the 1950s.
Andy is introduced to the library by Brooks in 1949. Brooks points out a Louis L'Amour section, but L'Amour's first book under his own name wasn't published until 1953 (he had written a series of Hopalong Cassidy novels in the late 1940s under the name Tex Burns), and didn't produce enough books to warrant his own section until the 1960's. He was still somewhat known having written many short stories for pulp magazines, but these featured many writers and stories. Brooks also points out a section of Reader's Digest Condensed Books, which were first published in 1950.
When Red's (Ellis Boyd Redding) parole form is stamped by the parole board, the typeface on the form is called American Typewriter which was not invented until 1974. The typeface is also not monospaced as a manual typewriter would, meaning it was most likely printed by a modern computer.
Captain Hadley said his brother left him $35,000 in 1949, and said after taxes it would be "enough to buy a car". Adjusted for inflation, that would be almost $352,000 in 2015. The average price of a car during that time period was approximately $1,650.
When Red was sitting under the oak tree in 1967 and pulled the money out of the envelope, the top bill was signed by Nicholas F. Brady who was Secretary of the Treasury from September 1988 to January 1993.
When Red narrates Tommy Williams's arrival at Shawshank in 1965, he mentions he was caught sneaking TVs out the back door of a JCPenney. That store was not known by that name until 1971, after its founder and namesake, James Cash Penney, died and they were renamed in his honor. Before then it was known simply as Penney's.
Towards the end of the film as Red goes to Fort Hancock, the bus drives down a highway showing a yellow solid line and yellow dashed lines. In 1967, when Red was apparently released, the dashed lines would have been white as the current system was not introduced until the early-mid 1970s.
The "Jughead" comic book being read by the guard in the bathroom during the playing of The Marriage of Figaro record wasn't a stand-alone title until 1965, more than a decade after that part of the story takes place.
When Red narrates about Andy's Escape, he says it is in 1966. Days later, the police arrive at Shawshank and arrest the guard, Byron. They read him his Miranda rights. The weather is obvious springtime in Maine, so spring of 1966. The Supreme Court did not decide the Miranda case until June of 1966, and it took months if not a year for police departments nationwide to provide the Miranda rights to those under arrest.
Andy's 1955 library letter carries a 1954-series 3-cent stamp, which is correct; but the letter beneath his has a 1923 series, which hadn't been issued since 1938, and the other two have just two cents in postage.
Andy Dufresne is obviously a very intelligent man and fond of playing chess. However if you take a good look at the shot of the (nearly) completed chess board in his cell, you see that he put up the chess board the wrong way. The board should be turned 90 degrees in order to have the pieces stand right. The square on the lower left should be black, the one on the upper right too, which they are not, they are white. Anyone fond of playing chess would never make that mistake.
The narrator says "Five hundred yards. The length of five football fields. Just shy of half a mile." There are 1760 yards in a mile. 880 yards is half a mile. 500 yards is not even a third of a mile, a long way from 'Just shy.'
When Red violates his parole at the end of the film he says "for the second time in my life, I've committed a crime." However, Red committed numerous crimes while incarcerated due to his smuggling of contraband into the prison.
When Brooks delivers the rock hammer to Andy's cell, he continues to push the cart in the same direction and we hear wheels squeaking for a few seconds as the camera changes angle, to Andy's POV. Later, when the warden leaves Andy's cell, we can see the end of the aisle on the cells' tier just outside Andy's cell. Brooks had nowhere to push that cart.
A friend of the warden bribes him with a pie made by his wife which was baked in a disposable aluminum pan. The warden later gives the pie to Andy, who shares it with Red. While Red's eating it, the pan is now made of strong metal.
When Red and Andy meet for the first time, an extra is seen behind each of them. It is the same scene but as the lines were filmed at different times, the extra is wearing different shirts - one prisoner shirt the day that Red's lines were shot, and a different shirt behind Andy the day his lines were filmed.
When Andy is assigned to the prison library, Brooks tells him he'll give him a tour. As he says this, Brooks is standing in the doorway to the library. The room is very dimly lit. But when Brooks and Andy walk in seconds later, it is full of sunlight.
In the original scene where Andy is switching the books and shoes he hands the warden the deposit slips and says, "three deposits, Sir". When Red is retelling the story and the scene is repeated Andy says, "three deposits tonight."
In the aerial shot where Andy's bus approaches the prison, next to the gate is a red brick building and it's sidewalk is strewn with debris. As the bus pulls in seconds later and we see the gate and same brick building from the vantage point of guards who hurried from a tower, the sidewalk is clean.
When Andy Dufresne's cell is about to be searched, as the Warden and guards are first approaching the cell, the shot shifts to Andy sitting in his cell holding an almost new indigo blue Bible as if reading it. Throughout the scene Andy holds the Bible in his hand as the guards ransack the cell. At the end of the scene, the search complete, the Warden enters the cell and, facing Andy, notices him holding the Bible then asks him about his favorite passages. As the Warden and Andy discuss Mark 13:35, the Warden reaches for and Andy hands him a worn and stained, black Bible.
When Red is talking to Andy for the first time, he is throwing a baseball between himself and Heywood. Just as Andy stoops down, Red catches the ball and seconds later, catches the ball again without throwing it back.
When Red is on the bus, one shot shows all of the windows on the bus open. In fact, Red's arm is hanging outside the window. In the very next shot of the bus (a long shot from a distance), all of the windows are closed.
During Andy's nineteen year detention and for about a year afterwards (until Red meets him again) he doesn't seem to age a single day. A prisoner suffering a harsh regime and poor diet would age considerably during that time.
Andy is sitting at the back of the bus when he arrives at Shawshank Prison, and when the men disembark, it's seen they're all chained together. This would be possible if Andy was linked to the middle of the chain, but instead he is near one end.
Towards the beginning of the film, during a beautiful aerial shot of the bus entering Shawshank Prison, the camera flies over the buildings, where we see the prisoners on their way to "greet" in the new inmates. As the camera circles around, at the top of the frame, in an area of green grass, near a building, the shadow of the camera's helicopter is clearly visible.
Andy's library has received donations of 78-rpm albums, and he selects a record from such an album before he locks himself in and broadcasts Le Nozze di Figaro. The record he plays, however, is a 33 1/3 rpm, which is clear from the position of the needle on the disk.
When Red describes the escape, he says that they found "... an old rock hammer, damn near worn down to the nub." But in the snapshot where an officer holds up the hammer they found, it doesn't look worn down much, certainly not near down to the nub.
If the poster of Raquel Welch was only secured at the top, then it would react to pressure changes in the tunnel as soon as it breached the wall of the utility corridor. Therefore it would either flap or if the bottom of the poster was secured, it would dimple. Either way, it would make noise, which would undoubtedly attract the attention of guards.
The scene where Norton, Red, and Hadley discover Andy's escape tunnel behind the Raquel Welch poster is played twice, the second time when Red is about to tell the story of Andy posing as Randall Stephens. But they are two different takes of the scene, as evident in slight differences in each actor's movements, positions, and facial expressions.
Andy may well have been crawling through unspeakable filth in that pipe, but the deadly danger came from the Hydrogen sulfide, a toxic gas, given off by bacteria in sewerage. This gas is impossible to breathe, unconsciousness quickly follows and then death. Andy could never have survived a crawl through "five football fields" of such toxic gas to freedom. Andy busted a hole to get out and the other end was open. Therefore the pipe could have been vented enough to provide putrid smelling but breathable atmosphere.
Andy Dufrense is wanted man. Yet after his escape and despite being a well-known convicted murderer, he takes no steps to alter or conceal his identity. In fact, he travels around the various banks in the region looking as he always does., while withdrawing large sums of money. However, it is explained and is easily obvious, that he had the warden's suit, shirt, tie, and shoes, and had the driver license, birth certificate, and social security card of the alter ego the account was under. Also, it was clearly explained he started visiting the banks around the time the guards and warden found him missing, and if questioned, could easily state that they might be thinking of someone else. Therefore, he hatched his plan perfectly and was gone before anyone realized it might be him.
When Andy is undressing in his cell, it is revealed that the suit and tie he took from Norton are solid black. When he walks into the Maine National Bank the next morning, he is wearing a striped suit and a striped red/black tie. But this is not necessarily the first bank he entered - he could have picked up several thousand dollars from one, bought a new suit that fit him, and then gone to the bank we see.
Brooks states in his letter that he saw a car once when he was a kid. Brooks went to Shawshank in 1905 and the back story is he was convicted of murder for killing his wife and daughter after losing at poker one night. This would mean he was a young adult when he went away. In the couple of years before he went to prison, he might have seen a car, but as a kid, that would be highly unlikely, but not impossible, as there were several types of automobiles dating back as far as 1890 (the ones before that don't really count as car's), so if he was in his mid 20's when he went to prison he might have seen one of those vehicles when he was 10-15 years of age.
Andy is convicted for the murder of his wife and the golf pro based on muddy footprints leading up to the house, the inability to match a gun to bullets, and testimonies from the neighbors. In real life, a second set of footprints leading up to the house (the killer's), presumably in the mud, and the fact that the neighbors undoubtedly would've heard a gunshot several minutes after Andy's encounter with the couple (whereas if Andy had done it, the gunshot probably would've been right after the shouting), might have been enough to prevent his conviction (or at least delay it until the second suspect was identified).
When Red is sitting in his chair in his apartment with the compass you can tell he has done the scene over and over again. When he opens the compass it does not spin. With that type of compass when it is closes it locks the compass needle in place. So when you open it it spins until it settles on North. When he opens it however it is pointing perfectly north and does not spin.
If you look at the prison buildings in the background of most outdoor shots, you'll notice many of the panes of glass are missing. It's most obvious when Andy is being dangled from the roof of the number plate factory and again in the scene where the prisoners are in the yard listening to the opera music.
As part of his escape plan, Andy steals one of Norton's suits. When Andy enters the bank, we see that the suit fits perfectly, even though he is several inches taller than Norton. Also, Andy and Norton conveniently have the same sized feet.
The goof items below may give away important plot points.
When Red takes the bus down to Mexico after his release in 1967, the highway shows yellow solid and yellow dashed center markings. In 1967, the dashed markings would have been white. Dashed markings did not start to be repainted yellow until 1971-1974 when MUCTD introduced the new scheme.
As Andy is driving toward his destination in Mexico he is in a mid-size 1968 Pontiac convertible, a LeMans, Tempest, or GTO. This model would not have been released until September 1967 at the earliest, yet we are told that Andy escaped in 1966.
Shortly after Andy's escape, Red receives a post card sent by Andy from Ft. Hancock, TX. Red turns the card over and you see it was addressed but there was no written message. In the upper right corner you see what is clearly the royal-purple 3-cent Statue of Liberty stamp. However, a postage-rate increase that took effect in January 1963 raised the domestic post card rate to 4 cents. A post card mailed in 1966 would likely have borne the maroon 4-cent stamp depicting Abraham Lincoln.
Near the end as Red was on the Trailways bus, we are shown a shot of the bus going down the hill and up the other side. On the far right, there was a green bicycle sign on a telephone pole that probably didn't show up until the 90s.
The bullet hole under the warden's chin is in a different
location than where he placed the gun barrel a moment before he committed suicide. In the 10th Anniversary release, director Frank Darabont admits that this was an error, it has bugged him for 10 years, and they had it fixed in the 2004 release.
When Norton is walking to Andy's cell after his escape, he tells the guards to question "that friend of his... him!" and he points to Red with the index finger on his left hand. The shot then cuts to a frontal shot of Red in his cell, and Norton is now pointing at Red with the index finger on his right hand.
After Andy escapes and is celebrating with upraised arms, the clothes he had just taken off (as narrated by Red when he said, "...the only thing they found was a set of prison clothes...") are gone, when he had just stripped them off and dropped them right next to him only seconds before.
When Brooks hangs himself by kicking the table away, his feet barely lower at all, yet in the next shot we see that he should have fallen a considerably greater distance. Also as he is carving his name in the beam, his head is high enough that he would not have to stand on his toes to put the rope around his neck, as he is shown doing.
When Warden Norton shoots himself, the bullet exits the window just below the blinds, creating a big hole and leaving blood stains. In the next scene, you see the window again, but now the hole is inches below the blinds and is a lot smaller in size, with the blood stains in different spots.
When Andy is in the bank withdrawing the warden's money, we
can see a man standing at the counter talking to a teller. A moment later when Andy leaves, the same man is walking up to the teller's window.
When Norton is about to load the revolver you can see a black and white photograph in a white frame on the desk. In the next scene when Norton has shot himself, you can see that the picture has now moved across the desk and is leaning against the lamp.
When Red's hat is blown off by the wind, it tumbles almost
into the water, and Red walks quite close to the sea. But the next time we see Red, the hat is farther from the sea than Red originally walked.
Right before Warden Norton shoots himself, the layout of the bullets on his desk changes between shots. You can see, right before he aligns the bullet chamber with the barrel, that the bullets are a little spread apart from each other, with one of them adjacent to the bottom of the magnifying glass handle. In the very next shot when the bullet chamber is aligned and the gun is ready to fire, the bullets are close together in a single pile, and the one near the magnifying glass has disappeared.
When Norton is at his desk loading the revolver the brand of ammunition shown on the box is Remington Kleenbore. However, looking at the cylinder as he is loading it, the cartridges have a WW head stamp indicating Winchester Western ammunition.
It's been claimed that when the warden throws the rock through Raquel Welch on the morning after Andy's escape, the poster appears to be stuck to the wall at all corners, raising the question of how Andy could have re-stuck the poster from inside the tunnel. However, as shown in a later (flashback) shot, the poster is attached at the top two corners allowing it to be lifted like a curtain while Andy works behind it. With the poster mounted in this fashion, the only requirement for the poster returning to the proper position - after Andy makes his escape - is simple gravity.
When Andy's climbing out of the hole, just before he's going into the sewer, you see him with his old shoes. But just before that he had put them in the warden's shoebox and replaced them with the warden's. However, at that point, Andy had been in prison for nearly 20 years and enjoyed special privileges. It's possible he had an extra pair of prison issue shoes in his cell, and took the warden's off before making his escape. This makes sense considering that when Andy entered the bank the next day, the shoes were still polished, and clearly had not been worn while wading through a sewage pipe.
We see Andy showing up at a bank and withdrawing all the money along with a close-up shot showing that the signature card matching Andy's signature and identification papers. Since Andy signed the original cards (at this bank and a dozen others), that means the warden would never be able to withdraw the money on his own had his plans succeeded; he would need Andy's cooperation. Therefore, it was in his own best interest to take care of Andy and keep him healthy and happy rather than threaten and abuse him. It would have made more sense for the warden to sign the signature cards himself so he could get the money at any time. However, that would have robbed the moviegoers of the payoff of seeing Andy collect all the money instead.
When the top of the pipe is broken open, it shoots a fountain, indicating that it is pressurized (if only by gravity). But then the pipe drains nearly empty. It should only have drained to the lowest point in the hole broken at the top.
When the warden opens Andy's Bible from the safe, he opens it to the bookmark in Exodus to find the cutout where Andy hid his rock hammer. Exodus is the second book in the Bible, so there'd only be a few pages (Genesis) above the cutout. But when the warden drops the Bible to the floor, it falls open to the bookmarked page. Now about half the pages are each side of the bookmark, with one half cut out and the other not.