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Of Mice and Men first editionFirst edition

Of Mice and Men

Publication details ▽ Publication details △

First publication
1937

Type of publication
Novella

Genre
Literary

Writing language
English

Author's country
United States

Length
Approx. 34,500 words

Of Mice and Men (1939) scene
Lennie, left, and George (Gary Sinise) make plans with a friend in 1992 film of Of Mice and Men.

Of Mice and Men

THE NOVELLA | THE TEXT | THE MOVIES

1939, 1992

George and Lennie as they were

Of Mice and Men (1992): Director Gary Sinise; writer Horton Foote; featuring John Malkovich, Sinise, Ray Walston, Sherilyn Fenn

The 1992 version Of Mice and Men is almost completely a knockoff of the 1992 film—except it's now in full colour and, more significantly, the realism is heightened.

The sentimental gloss has been stripped off, so George played by Gary Sinise, who also directed effectively, is desperately annoyed with the big guy he looks out for. And Lennie really sounds and behaves like a mentally challenged man; amazingly we get this uncomfortable depiction from the usually cerebral and sophisticated actor John Malkovich—a revelation both of Malkovich's talent and of the man Lennie Small would have been in real life.

The story starts just slightly before the earlier film, as Lennie unintentionally annoys a young woman, leading to her screaming and a group of men chasing Lennie and George. They escape by hiding under weeds in a ditch exactly as before. They take a little longer to get to their riverbank camp but once there the scene unfolds again almost exactly as Steinbeck wrote it and as the earlier film presented it. (This time, moreover, it is a dead mouse Lennie carries, as in the book.)

The movie was scripted by the great Horton Foote (To Kill a Mockingbird, Tender Mercies), who knew enough to let alone those great lines and passages from both the book and earlier film.

All the same important scenes are played out here, though with a slightly harder edge. The only notable exception is that the slight "stable buck" subplot is eliminated.

The final scene, when George gives Lennie his ultimate gift, is again grimmer, not stretched out for suspense and melodrama as in the earlier film, but delivered with understated emotion. It's over before we know it, shockingly quickly.

A less satisfying conclusion than in the 1939 film, but with an unsettling impact of its own.

— Eric McMillan

THE NOVELLA | THE TEXT | THE MOVIES

1939, 1992

See also:

Movies
The Grapes of Wrath

Movies
East of Eden

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