Of Mice and Men

Title: Of Mice and Men
Year: 1939
Length: 106 minutes
Director: Lewis Milestone
Writer: Eugene Solow, based on the novel by John Steinbeck
Starring: Burgess Meredith, Betty Field, Lon Chaney Jr.
With: Charles Bickford, Roman Bohnen, Bob Steele, Noah Beery Jr., Oscar O’Shea, Granville Bates, Leigh Whipper, Helen Lynd
Music: Aaron Copland
Cinematography: Norbert Brodine
Editing: Bert Jordan
Oscars: nominated for Best Picture, Best Score (x2) and Best Sound Recording
I saw it: on video (rented from Netflix), yesterday
Synopsis: two itinerant workers, one an idiot, try not to get into trouble

My reaction
Concept:2/4 (Indifferent)
Story:4/4 (Great)
Characters:4/4 (Great)
Dialog:4/4 (Great)
Pacing:2/4 (Indifferent) Lots of awkwardly unnatural moments – for instance, waiting for an actor’s entrance.
Cinematography:2/4 (Indifferent)
Special effects/design:3/4 (Good) Point off for distracting bad sound – given the Oscar nomination, it’s presumably the fault of a lack of restoration.
Acting:2/4 (Indifferent) Chaney is good. Meredith is usually fine. Some of the others are bad.
Music:1/4 (Bad) Oh, Aaron Copland, you are not a film composer. Nobody is fooled.
Subjective Rating: 7/10 (Good, 3/4 (Good)). You can’t go too wrong with the source material, at least not if you stay more-or-less faithful to it, and this does. It’s easy to imagine how much better it could have been, though, if it had been made by a studio with more budget and dramatic experience. Or if it had been made by people willing to shoot another take when you haven’t quite got it right yet.
Objective Rating (Average):2.7/4 (Good)


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