Live off the fat of the land
Steven Hellerstedt | 01/24/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"John Steinbeck's masterful story of friendship is definitively brought to screen in Lewis Milestone's 1939 OF MICE AND MEN. This is a terrific movie, essential viewing for anyone with a tolerance for black and white. The story is so universal and cleanly told this one is hard not to become deeply engrossed in.
Lon Chaney Jr., rightfully, is the chief reason we remember this movie. He nails the role of the feeble-minded Lennie, who wants nothing more than to tend his rabbits. I've never seen this movie before, and I was surprised at how effective Burgess Meredith was as Lennie's friend and protector, George. If Chaney steals most of the scenes he's in, Meredith is the reliable engine, grounded in humanity, that draws us in.
OF MICE AND MEN has been remade once, in 1992, in a production starring John Malkovich and Gary Sinise. For all of Malkovich's talents, I still prefer Chaney's performance. More importantly, the 1939 production was contemporaneous with Steinbeck's novel. If the latter movie is a period piece, the 1939 version is current events, and that does make a difference.
Get out the hankies and get ready to be deeply moved. An essential movie.
Chaney & Meredith shine in Steinbeck classic !!
P. Ferrigno | Melbourne, Victoria Australia | 01/05/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"From 1939, arguably the most oustanding year for films in Hollywood history, this eloquent, moving and touching film is almost a forgotten piece of masterful moviemaking.Lewis Milestone faithfully brought to the screen John Steinbecks time honored novel about two nomadic workers sharing a simple dream of one day owning their own farm. Lon Chaney gives his most memorable performance (apart from his portrayal's as tormented wolf man, Lawrence Talbot) as the immensely strong, but simple-minded Lennie. Burgess Meredith, in a fine performance too, plays his jaded travelling companion, George Milton. The two men seek work on a farm bucking barley, but their situation quickly darkens due to the aggressive, bullying attitudes of the owners son, Curley (well acted by serial cowboy, Bob Steele) and his bored and lonely wife, Mae (Betty Field)In addition to this masterly casting, there is marvellous support lent by Charles Bickford as the straightforward head ranch hand, Slim.....Noah Beery Jr. as the kind hearted and easy going cowpoke, Whit....and noted stage actor Roman Bohen is simply unforgettable as the crippled old timer, Candy. Bohen solidly contributes to many key scenes throughout the film, and his on screen relationship with his faithful, old dog is exceptionally moving (aided by a poignant score from Aaron Copeland)"Of Mice and Men" rightfully deserves it's place as one of the finest American films of the twentieth century. An inspiring piece of film making that will illict a wide range of emotions from fans of strong, story driven films. Simply, a must see !"
One of the Greats from '39
Mr Peter G George | Ellon, Aberdeenshire United Kingdom | 07/09/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The greatest year ever for the movies was undoubtedly 1939. Of Mice and Men was a member of the class of '39 and was also one of the ten films to be nominated for best picture that year. Competing against Gone With the Wind it had little chance of winning, but merely to be nominated that year was an achievement. Of Mice and Men is one of the great films and one of the best adaptations of a novel. Only The Grapes of Wrath and East of Eden can compete with it as an adaptation of Steinbeck. The film is not as well known as it ought to be, which is a pity as it has a deeply felt story and some superb performances. It really shows the hardships of being a poor farmhand in depression era America and includes many details which give the setting authenticity. Burgess Meredith is wonderful as George while Lon Chaney Junior is a revelation as Lennie. Chaney is probably best known for his horror roles as The Wolf Man, but these roles don't really show his acting ability. Only in his brief role in High Noon does he show the acting ability that is so clearly evident from his performance in Of Mice and Men. George and Lennie's friendship and interdependence forms the heart of the film, but the film is also about loneliness. This is especially shown with regard to two characters, Crooks played by Leigh Whipper, who is excluded from the rest of the workers because of the colour of his skin, and Mae played by Betty Field, whose jealous husband wont allow her to talk to anyone. Field had a great acting talent and her film roles are very distinctive. Here she shows the loneliness and desperation for human contact of a woman who has married the wrong man. It is her search for some warmth that leads her to Lennie and this has unforeseen consequences for everyone. Both Lennie and Mae are unconscious of their actions, they can't see ahead and thus both are like children. What makes the film so great is that it does not judge them. The characters in the film are just people with various strengths and weaknesses. The story is thus very true to life and believable.The print used for the Image DVD is superb. The picture quality could hardly be better with clear, sharp and detailed images. The black and white photography is truly beautiful. Unfortunately the sound quality is less good. There is quite a bit of background noise in some scenes. However, the sound quality is far from bad as the dialogue is always easily audible and the Aaron Copland score sounds fine. Anyone who is a fan of classic films should add this DVD to their collection."
An American classic
Cory D. Slipman | Rockville Centre, N.Y. | 04/12/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Of Mice and Men unfortunately gets lost among other great films of 1939 such as Gone With the Wind, Stagecoach, Wuthering Heights and The Wizard of Oz. However this poignant portrayal of the Depression era West stands tall in its moral values and simplicity. George and Lennie are itinerant farm workers hoboing there way through the west. The sharp minded leader George played superbly by Burgess Meredith has been looking after the dim witted beast of burden Lennie for years. He has crafted a scenario where they will accumulate enough money to buy a place of their own. He promises Lennie, who has a patholgic affinity for stroking soft things, that he will be able to tend the soft furry rabbits. Lennie makes George repeat their plans time and time again never tiring of the story.They find work on a barley farm but soon the uncontrollable Lennie gets into trouble and their plans get altered. Lon Chaney Jr. was obnoxiously fantastic as the mentally challenged Lenny. Burgess Meredith once again proves that he is one of the greatest character actors to ever have appeared on the American screen."