Of Mice and Men
A migrant worker protects his strong, simple-minded friend. Directed by Lewis Milestone. From the John Steinbeck tale. Music by Aaron Copland.
Truly one of the unsung triumphs of 1939, this heartfelt adaptation of John Steinbeck's morality tale of two itinerant migrant workers seems just as fresh and powerful decades after its release. Lon Chaney Jr. gives the performance of a lifetime as the sweet yet feeble-minded Lennie, who is befriended by the weary Burgess Meredith. They both would be lost without each other in a rather mixed-up world. Sensitively directed by Lewis Milestone (All Quiet on the Western Front), the film features the first pre-credit sequence in American film history. There's also a nice score by Aaron Copland. --Bill Desowitz
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But here, I feel compelled to rate the product in its entirety, hence the missing star. The print is A-1 top-notch. It's a pristine transfer from the original 35mm.
Okay, so what's the problem then? Umm... Well... I can't help but wonder... Uh... No one at Richard Farner and Company, nor Corinth Films, nor Image Entertainment... likes this movie enough to transcribe its dialogue to text and include it as an optional language track on the disc for those who may wish to see (or require)... um... captions???
I consider that omission a sizable enough blemish on the overall product. For shame on the aforementioned.
On the other hand if you are watching it with someone who is not familiar with the story (we had to read it in Junior High School) be prepared for the worst.
My girlfriend locked herself in my bathroom weeping uncontrollably for at least an hour after the devastating final scene.
And it is devastating whether you are 14 or 41. If you care at all about great film this is a "must-purchase."
Under studio pressure, Creighton changed his named to Lon Chaney Jr. and struggled in various B-Movie roles before landing the stage part that would open the door--however so slightly--to bigger and better things.
Lennie Small, a mentally challenged person who does bad things that are often out of his control. After getting the stage role, Lon Jr. would eventually win the screen role that would become one of his favorites.
Lennie travels with his buddy and caretaker, George Milton. George has dreams of one day owning his own ranch and letting Lennie tend to all the animals they will have. Lennie especially likes the idea of tending to all the rabbits.
Meanwhile, George and Lennie find work on a ranch, where Lennie encounters a girl who will lead to nothing but trouble--the same kind of trouble that lead to Lennie and George leaving another town.
There are a couple of moving scenes in "Of Mice and Men"--one being the scene where Candy--a worker who befriends Lennie and George--has his old, sickly dog taken out and shot. And of course, there's the closing reel where George has to get Lennie out of the trouble he's gotten himself into--the only way he knows how.
"Of Mice and Men" is a moving triumph--very well acted and very memorable.
The picture quality could have been a little cleaner but this film IS more than 70 years old. The sound quality is adequate. These points led me to give the overall of 4 stars. But the film itself remains a 5 star gem!
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