The Green Mile (film)

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The Green Mile
The words Tom Hanks, a prison guard looking to the distance, below the words The Green Mile, in the middle of the words, a small silhouette of a big man and small man walking towards a light.
Theatrical release poster by Drew Struzan
Directed by Frank Darabont
Produced by David Valdes
Frank Darabont
Written by Frank Darabont
Based on The Green Mile 
by Stephen King
Music by Thomas Newman
Cinematography David Tattersall
Edited by Richard Francis-Bruce
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Release dates
  • December 10, 1999 (1999-12-10) (United States)
Running time
189 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $60 million[2]
Box office $290.7 million[2]

The Green Mile is a 1999 American fantasy crime drama film directed by Frank Darabont and adapted from the 1996 Stephen King novel of the same name. The film is told in a flashback format and stars Tom Hanks as Paul Edgecomb and Michael Clarke Duncan as John Coffey with supporting roles by David Morse, Bonnie Hunt, and James Cromwell. The film also features Dabbs Greer, in his final film, as the old Paul Edgecomb. The film tells the story of Paul's life as a death row corrections officer during the Great Depression in the United States, and the supernatural events he witnessed.

The film was nominated for four Academy Awards: Best Supporting Actor for Michael Clarke Duncan, Best Picture, Best Sound, and Best Adapted Screenplay.


In a Louisiana nursing home in 1999, Paul Edgecomb becomes nervous while watching the 1935 film Top Hat. He is with his elderly friend Elaine, who becomes concerned, and Paul tells her that the film reminded him of his past, when he was a prison officer in charge of death row inmates at the Cold Mountain Penitentiary during the summer of 1935.

The scene shifts to 1935, where Paul works with fellow guards Brutus "Brutal" Howell, Harry Terwilliger, and Dean Stanton. One day, John Coffey, an African-American man convicted of raping and killing two young white girls, arrives in the prison. John is very shy, soft-spoken, and a very emotional person, in stark contrast to the crime he was convicted of. John reveals extraordinary powers by healing Paul's bladder infection and resurrecting Mr. Jingles, a pet mouse kept by inmate Eduard "Del" Delacroix, only by his touch. Later, he heals the terminally ill wife of Warden Hal Moores. When John is asked to explain his power, he merely says that he "took it back."

Percy Wetmore, a sadist with a fierce temper, begins working in the death row inmates block; his fellow guards dislike him, but cannot get rid of him due to his family connections to the governor. Meanwhile, a psychopathic prisoner named "Wild Bill" Wharton is booked into the jail for multiple murders committed during a robbery. At one point Wharton seizes John's arm, and John psychically senses that Wharton is also responsible for the crime for which John was wrongly convicted.

After Percy scares Del, Wharton seizes him onto the cell bars. Percy is shocked and urinates himself, which Del finds amusing. Paul coerces Wharton to let Percy go. Percy offers that he will transfer to an administrative post at a mental hospital in exchange for managing Del's upcoming execution. However, Percy uses the opportunity to punish Del by neglecting to wet down the conductive sponge used on the electric chair. When the electricity is turned on, Del's body bursts into flames. Later, John regurgitates the sickness from Hal's wife into Percy; Percy becomes unable to talk and shoots Wharton to death and falls into a permanent state of catatonia, and is admitted as a patient to the mental hospital.

In wake of the events, Paul interrogates John on what happened. John says he "punished them bad men" and offers to show Paul what he saw by giving him a "part of himself". Paul takes John's hand, and sees what John had seen from Wharton, that Wharton was responsible for the crime. Paul offers to let John go, but John refuses, saying that there is too much pain in the world and he is "rightly tired" of it. John patiently awaits the date of execution, and as part of his last request, enjoys the film Top Hat on the night prior. When John is put on the electric chair, Paul honors a final request, not to put the hood over John's head as he is afraid of the dark. Paul shakes John's hand, and watches as the execution is completed.

As an elderly Paul finishes his story, he notes that he spent the remainder of his career at a youth detention center. He reveals to Elaine that he is over 108 years old, which he believes came from the "part of himself" John had given him; he also reveals the mouse, Mr. Jingles, is also still alive. Paul believes it to be a punishment from God for having let John be executed, as he has outlasted all of his friends and family and unsure of when he will die. The film ends on glimpses of a future where Elaine has died and Paul remains alone at the retirement home.



Darabont adapted the novel into a screenplay in under eight weeks.[3]

The film was shot at Warner Hollywood Studios, West Hollywood, California, and on location in Shelbyville, Tennessee and Blowing Rock, North Carolina.


Hanks and Darabont met at an Academy Award luncheon in 1994. Stephen King stated he envisioned Hanks in the role and was happy when Darabont mentioned his name.[3]

Morse had not heard about the script until he was offered the role. He stated he was in tears by the end of it.[3] Darabont wanted Cromwell from the start, and after he read the script, Cromwell was moved and agreed.[3]

Duncan credited his casting to Bruce Willis, with whom he had worked on the film Armageddon one year earlier. According to Duncan, Willis introduced him to Darabont after hearing of the open call for John Coffey.[4]


The official film soundtrack, Music from the Motion Picture The Green Mile, was released on December 19, 1999 by Warner Bros. It contains 37 tracks, primarily instrumental tracks from the film score by Thomas Newman. It also contains four vocal tracks: "Cheek to Cheek" by Fred Astaire, "I Can't Give You Anything but Love, Baby" by Billie Holiday, "Did You Ever See a Dream Walking?" by Gene Austin, and "Charmaine" by Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians.


Critical response[edit]

The film received positive reviews from critics. Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 80% based on reviews from 132 critics. The critical consensus states "Though The Green Mile is long, critics say it's an absorbing, emotionally powerful experience."[5] The film also has a score of 61 out of 100 on Metacritic based on 36 critics indicating "generally favorable reviews'.[6]

Roger Ebert gave the film 3 and a half stars out of four, writing "The film is a shade over three hours long. I appreciated the extra time, which allows us to feel the passage of prison months and years."[7] Forbes commentator Dawn Mendez referred to the character of John Coffey as a "'magic Negro' figure"—a term describing a stereotypical fictional black person depicted in a fictional work as a "saintly, nonthreatening" person whose purpose in life is to solve a problem for or otherwise further the happiness of a white person.[8]

Awards and nominations[edit]

1999 Academy Awards[9][10]

2000 Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films

2000 Broadcast Music Incorporated Film & TV Awards

2000 Black Reel Awards

  • Won – Theatrical – Best Supporting Actor – Michael Clarke Duncan

2000 Blockbuster Entertainment Awards

  • Won – Favorite Actor – Drama – Tom Hanks
  • Nominated – Favorite Supporting Actor – Drama – Michael Clarke Duncan
  • Nominated – Favorite Supporting Actress – Drama – Bonnie Hunt

2000 Bram Stoker Awards

2000 Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards

2000 Chicago Film Critics Association Awards

  • Nominated – Best Supporting Actor – Michael Clarke Duncan
  • Nominated – Most Promising Actor – Michael Clarke Duncan

2000 Directors Guild of America

  • Nominated – Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures – Frank Darabont

2000 Golden Globe Awards

2000 NAACP Image Awards

2000 MTV Movie Awards

2000 Motion Picture Sound Editors (Golden Reel Awards)

  • Nominated – Best Sound Editing – Dialogue and ADR – Mark A. Mangini, Julia Evershade
  • Nominated – Best Sound Editing – Effects and Foley – Mark A. Mangini, Aaron Glascock, Howell Gibbens, David E. Stone, Solange S. Schwalbe

2000 People's Choice Awards

  • Won – Favorite All-Around Motion Picture
  • Won – Favorite Dramatic Motion Picture

2001 Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (Nebula Award)

  • Nominated – Best Script – Frank Darabont

2000 Screen Actors Guild Awards

  • Nominated – Outstanding Performance by a Cast
  • Nominated – Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role – Michael Clarke Duncan


  1. ^ "The Green Mile (1999)". IMDb. Retrieved January 12, 2016. 
  2. ^ a b Box Office Information for The Green Mile. The Numbers. Retrieved September 12, 2012.
  3. ^ a b c d "About the Film". Retrieved November 1, 2011. 
  4. ^ Doty, Meriah (September 4, 2012). "Bruce Willis helped Michael Clarke Duncan get his Oscar caliber role". Yahoo! Movies. 
  5. ^ "The Green Mile". December 10, 1999. Retrieved September 22, 2014. 
  6. ^ The Green Mile, retrieved 2015-09-25 
  7. ^ "The Green Mile". Chicago Sun-Times. 
  8. ^ Mendez, Dawn (January 23, 2009). "The 'Magic Negro'". Forbes. Retrieved October 26, 2009. 
  9. ^ "The 72nd Academy Awards (2000) Nominees and Winners". Retrieved November 19, 2011. 
  10. ^ Lyman, Rick (March 28, 2000). "Oscar Victory Finally Lifts the Cloud for DreamWorks". The New York Times. Retrieved November 4, 2011. 

External links[edit]