Of Mice and Men

1939 movie

Rating: 16/20

Plot: A big doofus named George and a guy named George who only sort of looks like Gary Sinese flee from one job to the next, presumably because Lenny keeps accidentally squishing bunnies. They migrate from job to job with the secret dream of somebody owning their own place and working for themselves. They run into problems with their employer's mean son and flirtatious and really bored daughter-in-law.

I'm not sure if I prefer this one or the Sinese/Malkovich take. The remake is truer to the source material while actually managing to be the rare film that is better than the book. This version is fairly true to the source material, but it's not as good as the Steinbeck novel. The changes that are made (especially the tacked-on ending) add nothing. The performances are really good. Lon Chaney Jr. is a great Lenny; Burgess Meredith is also good but has that 1930s wide-eyed, excitable thing going that at times makes him seem as mentally challenged as his big buddy. I really liked Roman Bohnen as Candy, and the scene with his character's dog is really well done and touching. The story by Steinbeck, America's greatest writer, deserves simple and quiet direction, and for the most part, that's what this 30's movie (surprisingly) gives it. Although simple, the story and its characters do allow for a little wiggle room for the viewer, and I liked some of the ambiguities with George's character near the end of the movie. I haven't seen the Sinesely-directed version since it came out. I'm going to have to check that one out again.

Note: I kicked a horse in the head this afternoon. I think that might be ironic, but I don't know what the word ironic means.


cory said...

When I saw this on your "coming soon" list, I was really hoping for the superior later version. This film is fine, but feels kind of by the numbers, and isn't as emotionally involving as it should be. A 15.

Barry said...

Sweet Jesus, the Sinese version is not close to being "better" than the source novel.

And this version gets a 15 from me as well.

Shane said...

No, it is better. I like how the movie handles the ending better than the book.

Maybe. Maybe it's manipulative.

I'll check out the '92 version during the summer when I try to watch 138 movies in a row with an animal in the title.

cory said...

Compared to "The Grapes of Wrath" and "East of Eden", I found "Of Mice and Men" to almost be simple and minor (I know, it's still a classic). Malkovich and Sinise were much more effective at making me care about the material than the book or the original film, Sweet Jesus notwithstanding. Hopefully our blogmaster will reconsider both the Summer of Animals, and waiting until then to review the '92 version.