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Of Mice and Men Reviews

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Carlos M

Super Reviewer

November 18, 2013
No wonder why Lon Chaney Jr. was propelled to stardom after shining as Lennie in this solid adaptation of Steinbeck's good story, finding the exact right tone for a mentally limited character who could have become really irritating if played by a lesser actor.
Michael G

Super Reviewer

December 6, 2006
This often overlooked version of Of Mice and Men is truly great and seriously underrated. The chemistry between Burgess Meredith's (by the way, it was incredibly weird to see a young Burgess Meredith) George and Lon Chaney Jr's Lenny is truly inspired. Its every bit as heartbreaking as you remember the book to be. The acting's stupendous, as are the direction and photography. Great opening sequence, too. The scene where Candy puts his dog down was irrepressibly sad--almost as bad as the final scene. Of Mice and Men isn't exactly the feel good hit of the summer, but its a damn fine movie.
John B

Super Reviewer

January 27, 2014
Burgess Meredith and Lon Chaney both bring the level of gravity needed for one of Steinbeck's best pieces of work. An epic film of an epic work.
Audrey L

Super Reviewer

February 19, 2008
There have been 3 film adaptations of this Steinbeck masterpiece of humanity and love.
DrLappos
DrLappos

Super Reviewer

May 16, 2007
I'll hug him and pet him.Great film
November 23, 2007
This movie is a classic based off of the novel by John Steinbeck. It is a must see for classic movie enthusiasts, however if you've read the book, it is exactly what you would expect. It's an unfortunate story with a not so pleasant ending. Definitely a film to see to say you've seen it.
ehernandez2005
September 13, 2006
I really like the book and when i saw the movie, WOW!! both characters came out from the book perfectly.
Julianne F.
April 30, 2014
Recently finished this film for a school assignment; and I have to say, even though I've never read the book, I feel like it captured the truth of the Depression Era and I quickly got attached to the characters and got to know them and that is the sign of a good adaptation of a good book.
February 27, 2014
a well made film that has sensible story
April 3, 2013
Tragedy on several different levels. Excellent script and acting. This film is not for children or those who are emotionally fragile.
FranktheRabbit
October 29, 2012
I guess it doesn't really matter the age of the film, the story is timeless. You could compare the Gary Sinise version to this one, but they're both so good, and so hardly different, why bother?
gillianren
October 12, 2012
Sometimes, There Is More Than One Victim

I think I was failed by the public school system, when I was a child, in part because of the assumption that, if a child is intelligent enough for a book's language, that child is obviously mature enough for the book's themes. This is where Age Inappropriate rears its ugly head, when people are looking for reasons to ban books. And I put it to you that some people really are looking for reasons. Book-banning can be a power trip for some people. At any rate, I was assigned my first Steinbeck in seventh grade. His language is deceptively simple. You wouldn't necessarily know that [i]The Red Pony[/i], for all it is a simply-written book about a young boy, isn't really appropriate for kids that boy's own age. I was astonished at how much I liked [i]Of Mice and Men[/i], when I came to read it, and [i]Grapes of Wrath[/i]. After all, I came to connect it to the book Gwen calls [i]The Dead Pony[/i], which I might like if I read now but was too young for when I did read it.

The time is the Great Depression. The place is Steinbeck Country. George (Burgess Meredith) and Lenny (Lon Chaney, Jr.) have been run out of Weed, because Lenny touched a girl because her dress was so pretty--and then was too scared to let go when she started screaming. George and Lenny are cousins; Lenny is a big, strong man who was kicked in the head as a child and has remained mentally a child. They have gotten a job at a ranch, but they have the dream of buying a place of their own and living "off the fat of the land." The ranch they are working at is owned by an old man (Oscar O'Shea, I think) and run by Slim (Charles Bickford). The old man's son, Curley (Bob Steele), a former boxer, wanders around the place making trouble--as does his hot and restless wife (Betty Field), given the name of Mae for the movie. For a while, it looks like Lenny and George will get their ranch, with old hand Candy (Roman Bohnen), but this is Steinbeck and therefore unlikely to end happily.

Mae is trouble. Everyone knows it but Lenny. Lenny isn't bright enough to understand. He only knows that she is pretty--he can't even see how brash and trashy she is--and that she is soft. Probably, she smells nice, too. And to be fair, Mae is probably lonely, being alone on that ranch with Curley and his father. There are no other women, and she is forbidden by Curley to talk to the men, who probably aren't much interested in talking to her, either. What do they have to talk about? She wants someone to listen, but she isn't much interested in listening herself. I'm not sure she'd know what to do with a friend if she had one, but she doesn't. She wasn't raised to be anything but trouble, and she is never going to be happy. I'm not a big fan of blaming victims, naturally, but what happens to Mae is as much her fault as anyone else's. She's doing what she's been told not to do--on several levels, in fact--and pays the price for it.

Part of it is that you can't really blame Lenny for anything, either. He doesn't remember most of what's said around him or most of what happens. He can recite most of what George says to him, and he can work hard. However, he can't do much beyond that. The reason George promises him that he can look after the rabbits, when they get a place of their own, is that he doesn't really believe they'll ever get one. It's easy to keep promises you'll never have to keep. He knows Lenny well enough not to trust him with his own work card. He knows that Lenny gets so distracted by soft things that he doesn't remember what he's been told--he gets distracted easily by all kinds of things, in fact. He's slow and simple. George has been taking care of him since they were kids, and he knows what will happen to Lenny if George is not there to take care of him. Steinbeck builds his tragedy carefully; there is nothing in Lenny that is at fault for anything he does wrong.

I suspect this was another one of those Classic Novels of the Twentieth Century that everyone had to read in high school. I read it twice, in fact; this was yet another result of my having failed a semester of English sophomore year. The second time was in the summer school class, and it's enough to make me pretty sure that the first time was in spring semester. I remember watching the other version of this movie, the one with Gary Sinise as George and John Malkovich as Lennie. However, I'm pretty sure this is the first time I've seen this version, and Mr. Garden would have showed it to us given half an excuse. It is, after all, one of the Great Films of 1939, and I don't think we saw any of those fall semester. After all, what people forget about the Great Films of 1939 is that half of them are adaptations or even remakes. This isn't one of the ones which springs to mind for most people, I'm sure, but it's still a worthy addition to that particular list. Even if most people only remember it as a thousand pop culture references to rabbits.
Adrian B.
May 5, 2012
Highly underrated movie in which two migrant workers George (Burgess Meredith) and Lennie (Lon Chaney Jr) find work on a farm in Central California during the Depression. Both seem to start out on the right foot while working on the farm, but Lennie's work ethic is poorer than his colleagues due to his mental incapacity. This makes his job much more challenging for him as life progresses and his lack of abilities eventually lead to total tragedy. Heartbreaking, well-filmed movie that has not received the recognition it has deserved in the years since. Very well acted by the entire cast and has aged quite well. A very nice film.
April 24, 2011
Fantastic film with great performances about the power of friendship, loyalty and sacrifice. A masterpiece with a big heart at its center.
LG
February 12, 2011
As far as American cinema is concerned, 1939 has been regarded a countless number of times as its greatest year. It was also the first year that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences allowed for ten nominations for Best Picture. Until yesterday, I had only seen three of these nominations: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, The Wizard of Oz, and (the winner) Gone With the Wind.

Yesterday, however, I had the pleasure of getting to watch one other nominee: Of Mice and Men. I had always loved the book, and have watched the 1992 film adaption in high school. This version, however, towers over the newer film by tenfold. Although this film doesn't match the brilliance of the previous nominees mentioned, it surely does come close.

Not only does this film do perfect justice to Steinbeck's wonderful novel, but in some ways, I think I may like it so much better. The cast of this movie is wonderful, and the story is a true classic; the moral being of the destruction of innocence by the reality of the harsh external world.

Unlike a lot of other movies, where the major characters play major roles and minor characters tend to stand in the background, every single role is fantastic. The audience connects not only with the characters of George and Lennie, but also with Slim, Candy, Curly, Mae, and the like. The actors are all very likable and created such an avid emotional appeal. Every scene more than likely plays a part in the overall story, and one can't help but stay glued to the screen the entire film.

The plot itself carries an obvious amount of pathos in itself. The parts with Lennie (remarkably played by Lon Chaney Jr.) are simultaneously bittersweet and heartbreaking. Having read the book, I knew exactly how the movie was to end, but once that scene came around, it still completely tug at my heartstrings... but I dare not give away any spoilers!

This film so so excellent. It's not everyday you come across a movie, based on a novel, that actually plays perfect justice to the original work. The acting is great and the story is timeless. This film proudly hails from the greatest year in cinema, and can instantly be declared an all-time classic.
Joe T.
February 2, 2011
Amazing casting, and true to the book.
This is one truly great movie that will capture your heart and attention!
The -Stick
July 25, 2009
Ahhh...so THIS is where they got the idea. If you are a fan of those classic Warner Brother cartoons from the 40's - the 2 main characters from OF MICE AND MEN will be instantly recognizable. The pair have been parodied in so many cartoons - and become such a part of the cultural landscape that it just makes it a bit difficult to take seriously when you watch this for the first time (as I did).

The film - based on the John Steinbeck novel - centers around two itinerant farmhands, Lennie Small (Lon Chaney, Jr.) and George Milton (Burgess Meredith). Lennie is large and strong as a bull, but very slow-minded. Lennie is really a harmless, kind-hearted individual but oft times gets himself unwittingly into trouble. George is Lennie's friend and self-appointed guardian. They travel up and down California's central valley looking for small work of any kind - while having bigger dreams of a better future for themselves.

Lennie and George manage to secure employment at a spread called RANCH NO. 3 where most of the drama takes place. Other characters include Curley (Bob Steele)- the ranch owner's bully of a son. The farm workers despise the ill-tempered Curley and do their best to avoid any confrontation with him. There is also Mae (Betty Field), the only female in the immediate vicinity. Mae is Curly's pretty, but very bored wife. Any farmhand so much as takes a look at Mae will send Curly into a flying fit of jealous rage.
Slim (Charles Bickford) is the veteran farmhand who everyone suspects is having an affair with Mae.
Candy (Roman Bohnen) is the old, one-handed farmhand who overhears Lennie & George discussing their dreams for the future and wants to share in it.
There is also Crooks (Leigh Whipper) a black farmhand who lives by himself in the barn and seems to be a social pariah due to his race. Crooks also want in on Lennie & George's dream.

The script is based off the successful Broadway play - and the film comes off looking very "stagey" and unabashedly heavy handed. It's definitely quite manipulative - which can be a big turn-off for some. Directed by Lewis Milestone (ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT).

If you can accept Lon Chaney, Jr's portrayal of Lennie - then you will be well on your way to better appreciating this film.

7.5 / 10
Gridz21
March 19, 2008
[color=black]Lon Chaney, Jr. was just as likable as Lennie as he was in the classic book. This movie does a great job of capturing the loneliness part of working on an isolated ranch.[/color]
Othello
June 6, 2004
(DVD) (First Viewing, 2nd Milestone film)

John Steinbeck is the literary voice of the California Central Valley and the agricultural community that inhabits it. This area and this culture also happens to be where I have been born and raised (and both loved and hated), so the world Steinbeck creates is one that I can instantly recognize, for though many things have changed over the years, Steinbeck managed to capture the timeless essence of this area, for better or worse. The thing is, I'm not really a Steinbeck fan, though after watching this and [b]East of Eden[/b], I think it's high time for a reevaluation.

[b]Of Mice and Man[/b] was released in 1939, the year considered by many to be the greatest film for Hollywood films. And with competition like [b]Gone with the Wind[/b], [b]The Wizard of Oz[/b], [b]Wuthering Heights[/b], [b]Dark Victory[/b], etc., it's easy to see how [b]Of Mice and Men[/b] fell through the cracks and did poorly at the box office. And it's really a well-made and touching film, much better than the universally loved [b]Grapes of Wrath[/b], a film which I absolutely detest (more on that later).

Like many of Steinbeck's stories, [b]Of Mice and Men[/b] works off a Biblical principle, the time working with a "brother's keeper" theme. It's the story of the smart, quick-tongued George (Burgess Meridith) who more or less takes care of the massive, dim-witted (probably retarded to some degree) Lennie (Lon Chaney, Jr.), as they travel from farm to farm looking for work, trying to survive.

What struck me most deeply is that this a film about broken dreams. Many of the characters have a dream for the future, whether it be owning a farm or travelling to Hollywood to make it big, but this is during the Great Depression, and dreams are hard to come by. Ultimately, [b]Of Mice and Men[/b] becomes a film of broken dreams, and its really quite heart-breaking.

Burgess Meredith is quite good, and Betty Field (who until now I've only known in motherly roles in [b]Picnic[/b], [b]Peyton Place[/b] and others), isn't quite right for the sole female role, but she nails her big final scene. But it is Chaney who is the stand-out here, managing to imbue his performance with the right blend of dignity and sympathy that is rarely seen in portraits of the mentally handicapped. Also deserving a mention is Aaron Copland's sophisticated Americana score- one of the few that the renowned American composer ever wrote.

In my mind, [b]Of Mice and Men[/b] is a superior film to John Ford's [b]The Grapes of Wrath[/b] because it avoids the "take your medicine, it's good for you" attitude that that film takes, preaching a sermon instead of letting the power of the material speak for itself. Because Milestone takes the route of telling a great story simply and eloquently, instead of hitting you endlessly on the head with the message, ultimately his film succeeds where Ford's film fails.

You probably not not see [b]Of Mice and Men[/b] appear on greatest film lists, or even discussed much, but it's another excellent year from a vintage Hollywood year.
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