7.8/10
4,886
60 user 14 critic

Of Mice and Men (1939)

Approved | | Drama | 12 January 1940 (USA)
Two itinerant migrant workers, one mentally disabled and the other his carer, take jobs as ranch hands during the Great Depression to fulfill their shared dream of owning their own ranch.

Director:

Lewis Milestone

Writers:

John Steinbeck (by), Eugene Solow (screen play)
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Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 2 wins. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Burgess Meredith ... George Milton
Betty Field ... Mae Jackson
Lon Chaney Jr. ... Lennie Small
Charles Bickford ... Slim
Roman Bohnen ... Candy
Bob Steele ... Curley Jackson
Noah Beery Jr. ... Whit
Oscar O'Shea ... Jackson
Granville Bates ... Carlson
Leigh Whipper Leigh Whipper ... Crooks
Helen Lynd ... Susie
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Storyline

George Milton and Lennie Small are migrant workers in the 1930s Depression. Lennie is mentally disabled and George looks after him. While working as hands on a Western ranch, they dream of owning their own ranch and the opportunity may be available. Their current ranch is owned by a sadistic man who has a flirtatious wife. Written by dstern1

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Hollywood said it never could be made! See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

12 January 1940 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

La fuerza bruta See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Hal Roach Studios See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono | Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Leona Roberts as "Aunt Clara" is in studio records/casting call lists for this movie, but was not seen in the viewed print. See more »

Goofs

George and Lennie eat canned beans. The beans are heated before they open the cans, and they hold the cans barehanded. See more »

Quotes

George: I guess they're about done. Ready? You got enough beans there for four men.
Lennie: I like 'em with ketchup.
George: I told you we ain't got none! Whatever we ain't got, that's what you want! If I was alone I could live so easy. The end of the month I could take my 50 bucks and go into town, get whatever I want - a gallon of whiskey, set up a pool room, play cards or shoot pool. And what do I get? I get you!
See more »

Crazy Credits

The movie begins before the credits are shown. George and Lennie are fleeing a mob. They board a boxcar on a moving train, and as they close the door of the boxcar we see the main title already written on the door of the boxcar. See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Hits You Like a Gut Punch
20 June 2005 | by evanston_dadSee all my reviews

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.

Grade: A


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