Of Mice and Men (1940)

104 mins | Drama | 12 January 1940

Director:

Lewis Milestone

Writer:

Eugene Solow

Producer:

Lewis Milestone

Cinematographers:

Norbert Brodine, Wallace Chewning

Editor:

Bert Jordan

Production Designer:

Nicolai Remisoff

Production Company:

Hal Roach Studios, Inc.
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HISTORY

The film's action actually begins before the opening credits appear, an unusual order for credits in a 1939 film. Actor Roman Bohnen's onscreen credit reads: "Roman Bohnen, (Candy in the film) courtesy of the Group Theater of New York." Actor Leigh Whipper also appeared in the original Broadway cast. According to pre-production news items in HR , Lewis Milestone and Rowland Brown purchased the screen rights to the play, and the two planned to co-produce the film version with Brown writing the screenplay and Milestone directing. Guinn Williams was tentatively set for the role of Lennie and producer Hal Roach negotiated with Warners to borrow James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart for the role of George. Wallace Ford was also to have been featured in the cast. Roach borrowed Betty Field from Paramount, and originally considered distributing the film through Paramount. The HR review credits Hal Roach as producer, although the onscreen credits refer to him only as presenter. Another news item in HR adds that the film was shot partially on location at Agoura Ranch in Agoura, CA. It was the first of John Steinbeck's novels to be filmed. This picture received the following Academy Award nominations: Best Picture, Best Score and Best Sound Recording. The picture was also included in the NBR 's list of the ten best films of the year. Another adaptation of Steinbeck's novel was released in 1992, directed by Gary Sinise, and starring Sinise as "George" and John Malkovich as ... More Less

The film's action actually begins before the opening credits appear, an unusual order for credits in a 1939 film. Actor Roman Bohnen's onscreen credit reads: "Roman Bohnen, (Candy in the film) courtesy of the Group Theater of New York." Actor Leigh Whipper also appeared in the original Broadway cast. According to pre-production news items in HR , Lewis Milestone and Rowland Brown purchased the screen rights to the play, and the two planned to co-produce the film version with Brown writing the screenplay and Milestone directing. Guinn Williams was tentatively set for the role of Lennie and producer Hal Roach negotiated with Warners to borrow James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart for the role of George. Wallace Ford was also to have been featured in the cast. Roach borrowed Betty Field from Paramount, and originally considered distributing the film through Paramount. The HR review credits Hal Roach as producer, although the onscreen credits refer to him only as presenter. Another news item in HR adds that the film was shot partially on location at Agoura Ranch in Agoura, CA. It was the first of John Steinbeck's novels to be filmed. This picture received the following Academy Award nominations: Best Picture, Best Score and Best Sound Recording. The picture was also included in the NBR 's list of the ten best films of the year. Another adaptation of Steinbeck's novel was released in 1992, directed by Gary Sinise, and starring Sinise as "George" and John Malkovich as "Lenny." More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
22 Dec 39
p. 3.
Film Daily
27 Dec 39
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Dec 38
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Jan 39
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
15 May 39
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Jul 39
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Aug 39
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Aug 39
pp. 6-7.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Nov 39
p. 3.
Motion Picture Daily
27 Dec 39
p. 7.
Motion Picture Herald
30 Dec 39
p. 48.
New York Times
17 Feb 40
p. 9.
Variety
3 Jan 40
p. 40.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Lewis Milestone Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Pres
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
ART DIRECTOR
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATOR
Int dec
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus score
Mus cond
VISUAL EFFECTS
Photog eff
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck (London and New York, 1937) and the play of the same name as produced by Sam H. Harris and staged by George S. Kaufman (New York, 24 Nov 1937).
DETAILS
Release Date:
12 January 1940
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 24 December 1939
Production Date:
began mid August 1939
Copyright Claimant:
United Artists Corp.
Copyright Date:
2 February 1940
Copyright Number:
LP9395
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
104
Length(in reels):
11
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
5797
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

George Milton and Lennie Small, itinerant farm workers, escape a posse and hop a freight bound for the San Joaquin Valley where they hope to find work. On their way, they spend the night at a thicket along the Salinas River, and there George daydreams about buying a little farm of their own. George's dream, however, is continually endangered by Lennie, a simple-minded giant whose actions have set the posse on their trail. Before they leave, George tells Lennie that if he ever gets in serious trouble, he should return to the river. The pair continue on to the Jackson ranch, where they find work. There, Lennie incurs the enmity of Jackson's son Curley, a stunted bully who detests big men. Candy, an aged and decrepit swamper at the ranch, befriends the two newcomers and warns them to stay away from Curley's bride Mae, of whom Curley is insanely jealous. Later, George confides his dream to Candy, who offers to contribute his life savings to the farm. Just as their dream is on the verge of becoming a reality, Curley goes on the war path over his wife and, in a jealous rage, begins to pummel Lennie. After first retreating in terror, Lennie crushes Curley's fist in his huge hand. That Saturday night, while most of the ranch hands are in town, Mae comes upon Lennie, George and Curley in the quarters of Crooks, a crippled black stable boy, and deduces that it was Lennie who crushed her husband's hand. Mae taunts Curley about it, and in revenge, he orders her to pack her bags and get out. She does ... +


George Milton and Lennie Small, itinerant farm workers, escape a posse and hop a freight bound for the San Joaquin Valley where they hope to find work. On their way, they spend the night at a thicket along the Salinas River, and there George daydreams about buying a little farm of their own. George's dream, however, is continually endangered by Lennie, a simple-minded giant whose actions have set the posse on their trail. Before they leave, George tells Lennie that if he ever gets in serious trouble, he should return to the river. The pair continue on to the Jackson ranch, where they find work. There, Lennie incurs the enmity of Jackson's son Curley, a stunted bully who detests big men. Candy, an aged and decrepit swamper at the ranch, befriends the two newcomers and warns them to stay away from Curley's bride Mae, of whom Curley is insanely jealous. Later, George confides his dream to Candy, who offers to contribute his life savings to the farm. Just as their dream is on the verge of becoming a reality, Curley goes on the war path over his wife and, in a jealous rage, begins to pummel Lennie. After first retreating in terror, Lennie crushes Curley's fist in his huge hand. That Saturday night, while most of the ranch hands are in town, Mae comes upon Lennie, George and Curley in the quarters of Crooks, a crippled black stable boy, and deduces that it was Lennie who crushed her husband's hand. Mae taunts Curley about it, and in revenge, he orders her to pack her bags and get out. She does so the next afternoon, stopping at the barn to take a puppy that ranch hand Slim had given her. There, she sees Lennie brooding over the body of his own puppy, which he unintentionally killed with his brute strength. They begin to talk and Mae, sensing Lennie's desire to stroke soft things, persuades him to run his fingers through her hair. When she tells him to stop, he panics, causing her to scream. Lenny puts his hand over her mouth to quiet her, and when he removes it, she is dead. Remembering George's words, Lennie flees to the thicket by the river. When Curley organizes a posse to look for Lennie, George steals a pistol and beats the posse to the river, where he finds Lennie waiting. Determined to save Lennie from the mob, George instructs him to look across the river as he describes their farm. As Lennie listens with glee, George puts his pistol to the back of his friend's head and shoots him dead. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.