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The first comment given here shows an incredible lack of understanding of Steinbeck in his California period. Our Irish friend's acrid comments show he obviously doesn't like Steinbeck and that's his privilege. Now, having said that, I must say he's wrong. This film is excellent. Just that. The cast is wonderful and the story is a classic: the destruction of innocence by cruel reality (viz: the title of the story taken from a line from a Robert Burns's poem). And, while Steinbeck was not one to let a sentimental moment pass by, e.g, Lennie's Christ-like innocence, inappropriate super-human strength which inadvertently wreaks havoc resulting in his euthanasia with the same instrument as used for Curley's dog, these scenes are never maudlin. Too, for the serious Steinbeck fan, there's more, much more. This story, and the play, created at Steinbeck's most experimental period, is fraught with symbolism. There's the "big" guy, a victim of the "little" guy's vanity. Many are not aware that Steinbeck was small (5'3") and very self-conscious about his size. The cast is outstanding: Betty Field's careless and bored character, Mae contrasts with the mighty innocence of Chaney's Lennie. There are the solid characters of Bickford's Slim, Meredith's George and Bohnen's Candy; Steele was at his best as the vain, pugnacious Curley; Veteran character actor, Noah Berry Jr. as Whit adds another element of sympathy. This is one of our American classic films. We invented and developed this genre of art and this film must stand as one of its finest examples.
Excellent screen adaptation of the John Steinbeck classic about two drifters in the Depression who move from ranch to ranch in search of work. Perfect pairing of Meredith and Chaney (his finest screen performance) as George and Lennie. In a year of great classic movies, it should be no surprise that this film falls into that category as well. Oscar nominated for the Best Picture of 1939.
Steinbeck's classic story of 'my brother's keeper' brought to the silver screen in a reverent manner. Perhaps the biggest story in this film is the fact that Chaney jr. could REALLY act-he was undoubtedly cheated out of the Oscar for best actor. Merideth, best known to younger folks as Rocky's trainer does a fine job as the brains in this two man operation. Veteran cowboy star Bob Steele does a stand-out job as the heavy. The direction is steady and the script lifted literally from the novel(why improve perfection?) Remade several times, but never as effectively. Even if you've seen it 100 times, keep a hankie handy.
Casting directors rarely get any real credit for what they do but I think, for this film, we must make an exception. The actors, in Of Mice And Men, play thier parts as if they were born into them. Add to this cinematography that is both artistically and technically outstanding and you have a film that truly deserves the term Classic. I believe that this film is a must-see for anyone considering a career as a writer, actor, director or any other area of film making.
This is wonderful film! I loved it! Why Lon Chaney Jr. did not win the oscar for his portrayel of Lenny, I'll never know. He was perfect in that role. One of my favorite scenes is when they have to kill Candy's dog. Just the emotion from everyone is.. just amazing. You have to cry everytime you see it. Wonderful movie that is probably the best one to come from a novel. John Steinbeck should be proud of this one. I know I'd be. 10/10.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Of Mice and Men is a cinematic masterpiece. It's a timeless classic that
never seems to date and gets better with every viewing.
The casting is flawless. Burgess Meredith as George and Lon Chaney Jr. as the tragic Lenny, in the roles of their careers, are simply outstanding. Roman Bohnan as the old timer Candy is unforgettable. Veteran "B" western performer Bob Steele, who was never given the credit he was due, is excellent as the hot-headed Curley. Betty Field as Curley's bored wife and Charles Bickford as Slim, and Noah Beery Jr. round out the excellent cast.
They are many memorable scenes expertly directed by Lewis Milestone. Among them:
- the opening pre-credit sequence where George and Lennie are running from the law as the result of another of Lennie's innocent transgretions;
- the scene where Candy's aged dog is taken out to be shot. The old man realizes that this has to be done but it breaks his heart because he realizes that soon he will be of no use to anyone either. Witness the tension among the other characters as they all await the fatal shot.
- the bullying of Lennie by Curley;
- the possibility of the George, Lenny and Candy realizing their life-long dreams by purchasing "their own place";
- the final confrontation between George and Lenny.
It's a pity that this picture came out in 1939, a banner year for Hollywood (Gone With the Wind, Gunga Din, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington etc.). It never received the recognition it deserved. It didn't have any major stars yet it's as good today as it was back then.
You'll go a long way before you will see as excellent an adaptation of a literary classic, as you will with John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men.
OF MICE AND MEN (1939) **** Burgess Meredith and Lon Chaney Jr. embody John Steinbeck's tragic migrant workers George and Lennie during The Great Depression facing all the hard work and hard knocks life offers in their pursuit of The American Dream of `livin' off the fatta the lan' and wind up on a ranch with its share of down on their luck characters all enclaved to certain destinies and a heavy fall for our protagonists. Chaney (in his second icon role, the latter would be as the accursed Larry Talbott aka The WolfMan) personifies the gentle souled giant with a dim bulb who obeys his best friend George like a loyal dog and as his brother's keeper, Meredith allows his scrappiness a warmth underneath. Lennie Smalls would be endlessly used as a punchline in Looney Tunes toons to come (`which way did he go George!') and the film would be updated twice - one a tv movie with Robert Blake and Randy Quaid and a theatrical 90s version with Gary Sinise and John Malkovich. This classic was also produced by famed studio maven Hal Roach.
This movie has power. Some of todays movies are great extravaganzas but
they have no power. The flawless performance given by Lon Chaney Jr.
has never been surpassed. John Stienbeck wrote the story and is one of
my favorite authors.
In this movie "Of Mice and Men" you can not help but be drawn into the story and feel every feeling that each character brings to the story. There are no big heroes here just people in a time of great tribulation. The director Lewis Milestone is superb in his making of this movie and also produced it.
I have seen all the remakes and there are none to compare. If you enjoy good movies don't miss this one and bring a box of Kleenex.
This screen adaptation of the John Steinbeck classic novel is a harsh,
fantastic film that took the wind out of me with its frank and brutal
depiction of desperation and longing. Movies about the Depression that
were actually made at the time of the Depression by people who knew of
what they spoke by necessity feel so much more authentic than later
movies that treat the Depression as a historical event. The men in this
film are quite literally living day to day, and the comparison of men
to dogs that serves as a running motif throughout the film feels like
more than just a poetic device. Like dogs, these men were faced with
the scary prospect of some day being of no more use, and there was no
system in place to take care of them when that day came. Being shot
like a dog put out of its misery by its owner really was preferable to
the alternatives awaiting them.
I was surprised about how candid this film was, and how bravely it tackled some of the thornier issues of Steinbeck's novel. The incident between Lenny and Mae is divested of some of its sexual overtones, but much is implied anyway. And a scene between Crooks, a black work hand, and some of the other workers, in which Crooks explains in blunt language what it means to be black, tackles race relations as honestly as many films today.
Moments of this film are almost unbearably sad and poignant, but never in that over-sentimental way common to Hollywood films of this time period. Burgess Meredith is terrific in the role of George; he expertly conveys--without ever directly addressing it--the bond he has with Lenny and the degree to which Lenny is as much George's savior as he is Lenny's. Charles Bickford is also excellent as a rough and world-weary worker. The cast's weak links are Betty Field--hopelessly overplaying her bored sex kitten--and Lon Chaney as Lenny, though both are very good in the pivotal scene that sets off the action of the film's finale.
John Ford's adaptation of "The Grapes of Wrath" from the following year gets all of the attention today, and one hardly ever hears of "Of Mice and Men." But much of what is great about Ford's film is also great about Lewis Milestone's, and he deserves credit for laying a fine blueprint for brining Steinbeck's beautiful and heartbreaking stories to the screen.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
For a black and white older movie to catch my attention as a 22 year old, it's gotta stand out. I first saw this version of mice and men back in the mid nineties on AMC channel. I was captivated. Lon Chaney Jr's role as as Lennie was Brilliant!!! So many Idividual performances in one movie WOW. Crooks, Candy, Curly, Slim, George, all with their own great performances. What a great scene when Lennie and Crooks are in his room talking about being lonely And no happy ending like most movies, made it seem more the real. I recorded it off of AMC years ago, and can quote it word for word any day of the week. This is a timeless masterpiece. If you haven't seen it your missing out. Definitely on my top 5 of all time. Please excuse any Mispellings as I have had a couple cold ones LOL!!!
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