Of Mice and Men (1992 film)

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Of Mice and Men
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Gary Sinise
Produced by Gary Sinise
Screenplay by Horton Foote
Based on Of Mice and Men 
by John Steinbeck
Starring John Malkovich
Gary Sinise
Ray Walston
Casey Siemaszko
Music by Mark Isham
Cinematography Kenneth MacMillan
Edited by Robert L. Sinise
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release dates
  • October 2, 1992 (1992-10-02) (United States)
Running time
110 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $5,471,088

Of Mice and Men is a 1992 film based on John Steinbeck's novella of the same name. Directed and produced by Gary Sinise, the film features Sinise as George Milton alongside John Malkovich as Lennie Small, Casey Siemaszko as Curley, John Terry as Slim, Ray Walston as Candy, Joe Morton as Crooks, and Sherilyn Fenn as Curley's wife. Horton Foote adapted the story for film.

Based on Steinbeck's 1937 novella, the plot centers on George and the mentally disabled Lennie. The two farm workers travel together and dream of one day owning their own land. With their work passes, the two end up on Tyler Ranch. George finds a property for sale, and calculates that they can buy the land at the end of the month with Candy's help. The film explores themes of discrimination, loneliness, and the American Dream.

Of Mice and Men took part in the 1992 Cannes Film Festival, where Sinise was nominated for the Palme d'Or award, given to the director of the best featured film. After the film debuted in the United States on October 2, 1992, it received positive acclaim from critics.


During the Great Depression, the quick-witted George Milton (Gary Sinise) looks after his physically strong companion, Lennie Small (John Malkovich), who is also mentally disabled. The two are fleeing from their previous employment as workmen in Weed, California. Other farmers chase them after Lennie was accused of attempted rape when he touched and held onto a young woman (Moira Harris) and her pretty red dress, prompted by his love of stroking soft things. George and Lennie escape, hop on board a train, and obtain work passes from a new town. A bus was supposed to transport them to a new ranch for work, but the bus driver drops the two off 10 miles beforehand. While walking down the road to the ranch, George gets aggravated by Lennie's incessant questioning of where they are going, since he easily forgot three times. George then catches Lennie petting a dead mouse he accidentally killed while stroking it too hard since he never knows his own muscular strength. Despite Lennie's pleas to keep the dead mouse and his claims that he did not kill it, George takes it away and throws it, causing Lennie to cry. George, showing sympathy, tells him he will probably get him a puppy.

Close to evening, George decides they should stay in "the brush" by a river, and go to the ranch the next morning. Finding out that they will have beans for the night, Lennie requests for ketchup, with George responding that they do not have any. Lennie, never understanding George's response, requests having beans with ketchup and George is agitated by this as a result. Lennie claims he was only joking and that he does not want any ketchup on his beans, but never understanding to the fact that they do not have any with them. This also launches George to have a long speech about Lennie's ungratefulness and childlike behavior. Lennie, puzzled and scared, decides to leave him alone and to find a cave on his own. Just as Lennie is about to walk away, George stops him by saying that Aunt Clara would not like Lennie walking by himself, and indeed wants him to stay with George. Now nighttime, Lennie requests George to tell him about their American dream as he did numerous times before although Lennie knows it all and would not be the same if Lennie says it and George agrees. George describes how the two will one day have their own piece of land, and how Lennie will tend (and pet) their rabbits. If Lennie gets in trouble, George instructs Lennie to return to the brush and wait for him. He also tells him that when they see the boss, George will do the talking and not Lennie.

The two go to work at a ranch named Tyler Ranch. When they meet the Boss of the ranch (Noble Willingham), he becomes suspicious of Lennie's mental condition when he talks, forgetting the promise that George told him. In order not to be sacked, George lies to the Boss, informing him that Lennie is his cousin and that he was kicked in the head by a horse when he was a child. At the bunkhouse, George and Lennie befriends an aged, one-handed ranch-hand, Candy (Ray Walston). However they make an instant dislike of the Boss' son, Curley (Casey Siemaszko), who disrespects people that are bigger than him. When Curley meets the two, he forces Lennie to talk despite George's objections and finally leaves. Because of Lennie's large height and due to the fact that he is mentally ill and will not fight back unless told like a young child, he's an easy target for Curley to pick on. Lennie then becomes instantly attracted to Curley's seductive, yet dishonest wife (Sherilyn Fenn), who comes into the bunkhouse to flirt with Lennie and George before leaving. When Lennie thinks of her to be "purty", George, aware that Curley's Wife will bring trouble upon the men due to her sexual allure and incessant flirting and that if anyone is spotted by Curley keeping his wife company, dire consequences will follow under any false accusation, strenuously disagrees with Lennie's opinion, and thinks of her as a "rat-trap." George then strictly instructs Lennie to keep away and not to even look at her.

While at a barn waiting for Crooks (Joe Morton), an educated and intelligent black man who is bitter and isolated because of his race, to come and help him with the horse's hurt foot, George is discovered by Curley's wife, who was the only person in the barn and attempts to engage in a conversation, planning to seduce him as well. However, the attempt is interrupted when Curley enters the barn and confronts George, who responds "minding my own business". Curley tells his wife to return to the house, but not before he issues a threatening warning to George; if he gets caught "minding his own business" again, Curley will beat him to a pulp and have him sacked on any false accusation.

Later, Candy offers to pitch in with Lennie and George after Carlson killed his dog so they can buy the farm. Just as it seems that the dream appears to move closer to reality, Curley comes around in the room making a scene, accusing Slim (John Terry) of keeping his wife company as the workers, who witnessed the argument, mock Curley. When he sees Lennie laughing, but unintentionally, a disturbed Curley takes his anger out on him, believing that he agrees with the rest of the men of what they think of Curley and repeatedly strikes Lennie. George yells at Lennie to fight back, which Lennie does. Lennie crushes Curley's hand with his sheer strength and George fears for their future on the ranch. Fortunately, Slim, who is kind to them, gives Curley an ultimatum: not to tell anyone what exactly happened and if he does tell his father in retribution to get George and Lennie sacked, he will inform everyone what really happened and is told that if someone asks him what happened to his hand, he will say that he caught his hand in a piece of machinery.

The next day, Curley's wife (who has found out about her husband's hand) appears, trying to talk to George and Lennie while they're at work, describing the weather. When George and Lennie do not respond, Curley's wife repeats the phrase in anger, refusing to admit that she is the source of trouble upon the men. Trying to find out of what happened to Curley's hand, she asks George, then Lennie, upon seeing the bruises on his face, who say "he got his hand caught in the machine". Curley's wife finally leaves suspiciously. Later, Lennie imposes himself on Crooks, who share a conversation with each other about being lonely. After George finds Lennie and are walking back to the bunkhouse, Curley's wife appears again and attempts to engage in another conversation, but also aware what really happened to Lennie. Still, George and Lennie refuse to talk to her. Failed once again and having reached the limit of her patience, the emotionally irritated wife says she will leave the ranch so that no one will ever see her again, including the ranch hands, calling George and Lennie "bindlestiffs" before running to the house in tears.

Later, in the barn Lennie has accidentally killed his puppy. Curley's wife enters the barn and tries to speak to Lennie, admitting that she is lonely and how her dreams of becoming a movie star are crushed, revealing the reason she flirts with the ranch hands. She lets Lennie stroke her hair; however, she soon says he is "muss[ing] it up," and screams. Lennie tries to keep her quiet but accidentally breaks her neck in the process. Candy finds Curley's wife dead and informs George and the two realize the dream will never happen. Curley leads a mob who chase after Lennie with the intention of lynching him. Wanting to spare Lennie a violent and painful death at the hands of the vengeful Curley, George shoots Lennie in the back of the head while distracting him with their dream of the ranch, releasing Lennie happily. George reminisces in the train boxcar, he has one final memory of him and Lennie working together and going off into the distance happily.



The first experience Sinise had with Steinbeck's work came when Sinise attended Highland Park High School. His drama class went to Guthrie Theater and observed three plays in two days, one being Of Mice and Men. After viewing the play, he "stood up and applauded" and "was trying to scream some sort of acknowledgement of my feelings [...] but I was so choked up nothing came out except tears." He credits the play with "[introducing] me to literature".[1]

Release and reception[edit]

On April 16, 1992, Gilles Jacob, director of the Cannes Film Festival, announced the 27 films competing in the "Official Competition" category, including Of Mice and Men. The film premiered the next month, and was Sinise's second film to compete at Cannes, after the 1988 feature Miles from Home.[2] After viewing Of Mice and Men, critic Don Marshall noted how the audience gave a standing ovation to its cast. Marshall said he was "surprised" that the film didn't win an award, although Sinise was nominated for the Palme d'Or, given to the director of the best featured film.[3][4]

The most sincere compliment I can pay them is to say that all of them – writer and actors – have taken every unnecessary gesture, every possible gratuitous note, out of these characters. The story is as pure and lean as the original fable which formed in Steinbeck's mind. And because they don't try to do anything fancy – don't try to make it anything other than exactly what it is – they have a quiet triumph.

Roger Ebert on Of Mice and Men[5]

The film made its American debut on October 2, 1992, and grossed $5,471,088 from a total of 398 theaters.[6] Despite what the Los Angeles Daily News described as a "poor box office performance",[7] the film received positive critical acclaim. Critic Roger Ebert gave the film 3.5/4 stars, and complimented the cast on their attention to detail.[5] Writing for Variety, Todd McCarthy was impressed at the set design, and contrasted the film's "lovely, burnished hues" with the studio-produced 1939 film. He went on to say that the actor's performances were "sterling" and gave the supporting cast positive reception.[8] Vincent Canby of The New York Times also praised the physical production and supporting cast, but added that the film "is not very exciting", possibly because "looking back at Lennie and George with the perspective of time robs them of their urgency."[9] The Austin Chronicle '​s Steve Davis called Of Mice and Men "unassuming but well-made", and gave the film 3/5 stars.[10] MGM released Of Mice and Men on VHS in 1993.[11] The film was later released as a DVD by MGM Home Entertainment on March 4, 2003. The DVD is featured in widescreen with English, French, and Spanish subtitles, and has the option of French dubbing.[12]

Differences between the book and the movie[edit]

  • Most of Chapter 4 in the book did not appear in the story, that was when Crooks, Lennie, Candy and Curley's Wife were talking inside Crook's Barn. This Chapter is believed to be the most powerful and significant chapters in the whole story.
  • George and Lennie are shown sneaking into a train at night to escape from Weed. This was not mentioned in the book.
  • The bus is shown to be heading for Tyler Ranch which angers George as the bus driver told him and Lennie to get off the bus earlier on in the movie.
  • In the book, George throws the dead mouse across the river into the brush and Lennie goes to retrieve it, but in the movie, Lennie just collapses and starts to cry. This scene takes place in a scene not mentioned in the book.
  • In the movie, Slim tells George to bring a mule with a sore foot to the barn. Only Curley's wife was around and starts a conversation with George which was later interrupted by Curley. Curley tells her to return to the house and issues a warning to George.
  • Though not mentioned in the book, Curley is seen practicing on a punching bag outside his house with his wife watching in boredom.
  • A worker named Mike approaches Slim and asks him whether he could switch jobs with someone else as he could not keep up with Lennie. This was not mentioned in the book.
  • The conversation between Lennie, Crooks, Candy, and Curley's wife in which the angered wife threatens to have Crooks lynched if he thought to tell the boss of her behavior was cut from the movie.
  • The part where Lennie hallucinates about Aunt Clara and the giant rabbit was also cut.
  • George could not find Lennie in the brush but instead embraced with Lennie in the water.
  • In the book, George shoots Lennie with a Luger pistol but in the film he uses a Colt revolver.
  • In the end of the film the speech was cut short. In the book, when Lennie got excited and said "Le's do it now. Le's get that place now," George replied, "Sure, right now. I gotta. We gotta," and shot Lennie, instead of saying that they should stay, as he does in the movie. Also, George is depicted shooting Lennie with no hesitation. In the book it is mentioned that he does, "The hand shook violently".
  • At the end of the film Lennie did not have a hat. In the book it is mentioned he does and George tells Lennie, "Take off your hat, Lennie. The air is fine."
  • The ending was also changed: in the book, George remains on the ranch, while in the film, George is seen riding alone in yet another boxcar to his next destination in both the introduction and the ending, indicating that George fled after killing Lennie, and is reminiscing on past events during the ride.


  1. ^ Terry, Clifford (September 13, 1992). "Sinise To Steinbeck To Sinise: A Lifelong Passion Comes To The Screen". Chicago Tribune (Tribune Company). 
  2. ^ Kehr, Dave (April 19, 1992). "'Of Mice And Men' To Represent Chicago At Cannes". Chicago Tribune (Tribune Company). 
  3. ^ Marshall, Don (May 23, 1992). "'Losers' Outnumber 'Winners' 10 to 1 at 45th Annual Cannes Film Festival". Deseret News (Deseret News Publishing Company). 
  4. ^ Movshovitz, Howie (May 3, 1992). "Cannes festival brings stars, films into spotlight glare". The Denver Post (MediaNews Group).  (subscription required)
  5. ^ a b Ebert, Roger (October 2, 1992). "Of Mice and Men". Rogerebert.com. Retrieved June 22, 2013. 
  6. ^ "Of Mice and Men". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved June 22, 2013. 
  7. ^ "'Evidence' of Revival at MGM?". Los Angeles Daily News (MediaNews Group). January 17, 1993.  (subscription required)
  8. ^ McCarthy, Todd (May 18, 1992). "Review: "Of Mice and Men"". Variety. 
  9. ^ Canby, Vincent (October 2, 1992). "Of Mice and Men (1992) Review/Film; New Facets Highlighted in a Classic". The New York Times (The New York Times Company). 
  10. ^ Davis, Steve (October 23, 1992). "Of Mice and Men". The Austin Chronicle (Austin Chronicle Corporation). 
  11. ^ "Of Mice and Men". WorldCat. Retrieved June 22, 2013. 
  12. ^ "Of Mice and Men". WorldCat. Retrieved June 22, 2013. 

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