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Of Mice and Men

USA 1939
produced by
Lewis Milestone for Hal Roach Studios/United Artists
directed by Lewis Milestone
starring Burgess Meredith, Lon Chaney jr, Betty Field, Charles Bickford, Bob Steele, Roman Bohnen, Noah Beery jr, Oscar O'Shea, Granville Bates, Leigh Whipper, Helen Lynd, Silver Tip Baker, Eddie Dunn, Howard M.Mitchell
screenplay by Eugene Solow, based on the novel by John Steinbeck, music by Aaron Copland

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Lame-brained but good-natured Lennie (Lon Chaney jr) and his cousin and best friend George (Burgess Meredith) are two farmhands in Depression era rural America who drift from town to town to get jobs, which they have to change wuite often because Lennie, due to his brute strength he has never learned to control, repeatedly gets into trouble.

This time around, they get a job at Jackson's (Oscar O'Shea) farm, and everything seems to be just fine and dandy for a while ... if it wasn't for Jackson's son Curley (Bob Steele), who, rather short in height, hates big guys like Lennie, and he does everything to provoke Lennie into fighting him ... but fortunately, George has Lennie under control, preventing him from doing anything stupid - and so they have a relatively good life at Jackson's farm, and before long, they decide to set up their own farm from the money they have earned and the money oldtimer Candy (Roman Bohnen) throws in to be a part of their venture ...

Problem is, Curley has a wife, Mae (Betty Field), and he doesn't know how to treat her right but is overly jealous - which spells trouble, especially since Mae tries to be friendly with the workers, much to Curley's dismay. Eventually, Curley beats up Lennie in a fit of jealousy, but Lennie doesn't fight back - until George tells him to at least defend himself, at which point Lennie squashes Curley's fist. With the help of their co-workers though, George and Lennie force Curley to hush up the incident and lie about his squashed hand - but now Curley is more determined than ever to get back at Lennie ...

Eventually, Lennie and Mae meet in the barn, and Mae starts to chat up Lennie - which soon leads to desaster when Lennie, not able to control his strength, accidently kills Mae. Realizing what he's done, he runs away. George, finding Mae's body, immediately realizes what had happened, but he can't hush a thing that big up anymore, and before you know it, Curley has formed a posse to search and kill Lennie.

Reluctantly, George realizes he can't save Lennie this time, so he searches and finds him before the posse does, and while making him promises and in tears, he shoots Lennie dead ...

 

Quite simply put, this is a great John Steinbeck-adaptation: The storytelling is swift without being superficial and there is never a dull moment, the direction is elegant without being glossy or overly gritty, all characters are beautifully fleshed out (just like they are supposed to be in a Steinbeck-adaptation, and the actors are uniformly great, especially Lon Chaney jr, making the role of the dumb-headed but good-natured brute his own, Burgess Meredtith playing his level-headed counterpart, and Bob Steele, by then a respected hero of B-Westerns, being cast totally against type as cowardly guy with an inferiority complex, and handling the role as if he never did anything else ...

Recommended.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
Amazon!!!

 

 

 

On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD