Series: Feature

Director: Lewis Milestone
Executive producer: Hal Roach
Screenplay: Eugene Solow
Photography: Norbert Brodine
Editor: Bert Jordan
Art director: Nicolai Remisoff
Music: Aaron Copland; conducted by Irvin Talbot
Sound: William Randall, Elmer Raguse

Stars: Burgess Meredith, Lon Chaney Jr., Betty Field, Charles Bickford, RRoman Bohnen, Bob Steele, Noah Beery Jr.
Company: United Artists
Released: 02 February 1940
Length: 11 reels
Production No.: L-20
Filming dates: August 14 - November 1939
Rating: 5/10

Of Mice And Men

Available on DVD:

George Milton (BURGESS MEREDITH) and the simple-minded Lenny Small (LON CHANEY JR.) escape an angry mob and board a train in the small town of Weed in the middle of the night. The next day they take a bus ride and then a short hike until they find a small brook to rest at. George, the brains of the outfit, lights the fire and makes supper for them both, after reprimanding Lenny for trying to conceal a dead bird inside his jacket pocket. It becomes clear that Lenny is a burden to George, who reminds his companion of how he keeps getting Lenny out of trouble. George tells Lenny about the plans for their future, much to Lenny's excitement. After sleeping out under the stars, in the morning they resume their ten-mile hike to a ranch to seek employment.
When they arrive the foreman takes their details but becomes infuriated with George for answering all of the questions he asks of Lenny. George explains that Lenny may not be smart but he is a good worker. The men are shown to their bunks and have an awkward introduction with the recently-married ranch boss Curley Jackson (BOB STEELE). Curley looks for his wife Mae and finds her in the barn with one of the farm hands, whom he then punches out in a jealous fit of rage. Curley tells Mae that if he sees her with any other man then they will receive the same treatment before noticing she has a puppy with her and questions where it came from. When he discovers it was Slim, one of the ranch hands who gave it to her, he goes to pay the much-bigger Slim a visit and threatens him. But Slim laughs off the threat as Curley rides away. George and Lenny introduce themselves to Slim before getting to work. When Mae tries to start up a conversation with the two men George brushes her off and ignores her but Lenny confesses how he thinks she is very pretty.
Lenny is thrilled when Slim offers him one of his puppies to keep as a pet, whilst George talks with Slim in the showers about his relationship with Lenny. He carries on the conversation later that evening over the dinner table until they are interrupted by George. By contrast Mae suffers an uncomfortable dinner as she watches Curley and his father slurping away at their meals and then becomes frustrated when Curley refuses to take her to the movies. Carlson, one of the ranch hands, tries to bully Candy into putting his old, beloved dog out of his misery and to shoot him but Candy resists until the others agree that it would be best for the dog. It's a tough scene to watch.

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Copyrighted February 2, 1940.
Initially previewed November 1, 1939 and premiered December 30, 1939.
Oscar nominee for Best Picture, Best Original Score, Best Music Scoring, and Best Sound Recording.
Based on the popular novel by John Steinbeck.

My opinion
Awkward adaptation of a classic book, featuring some stiff performances from some clearly mis-cast leads.

Burgess Meredith
George Milton
Lon Chaney Jr.
Lenny Small
Betty Field
Mae Jackson
Charles Bickford
Roman Bohnen
Bob Steele
Curley Jackson
Noah Beery Jr.
Oscar O'Shea
Curley Jackson
Granville Bates
Leigh Whipper
Helen Lynd
Henny Backus
Floyd Baker
Old hand
John Beach
Ranch hand
Baldwin Cooke
Ranch hand
Whitney De Rahm
Ranch hand
Eddie Dunn
Bus driver
Jack Lawrence
Ranch hand
Howard M. Mitchell
Barbara Pepper
Second girl
Carl Pitti
Ranch hand
Charles Watt
Ranch hand

CREDITS (click image to enlarge)

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Jerry Murbach (poster)

This page was last updated on: 02 February 2023