Despite its moments of stiltedness (which plagued a lot of 1930's Hollywood films), I found this to be an extremely effective adaptation of a classic book. The deep amount of information that the filmmakers impart with just a close-up or a single line of dialogue is extraordinary, establishing a whole universe in a matter of minutes. The cast is also strong, headlined by the marvelous work of Meredith and Chaney.
This movie doesn't fail to intellectually intrigue or emotionally involve, regardless of how familiar you are with John Steinbeck's classic novel. There are some well-done technical elements the film possesses on its own, particularly its cinematography. However, John Steinbeck's prose is the engrossing backbone while the perfect chemistry between Burgess Meredith and Lon Chaney Jr. is its heart and soul.
Kudos to Hal Roach Studios (known for comedies) and director Lewis Milestone, who had a long, varied career, for adapting a difficult novel and play into a superb film. For 1939 especially, the film does a great job accenting the racial and class divide on a working ranch and the polarization of a disabled person. Chaney plays for pathos and is its tragic center, but striving and sacrifice beat at the film's heart.
If you born before 1970, and you haven't seen the movie, you've seen the movie. It's referenced in countless cartoons, tv shows and movies. Incredible performance by Lon Chaney. The quote "The best laid schemes o' mice an' men / Gang aft agley" is unique in that it starts in one language and ends in another. It's like you're speaking English and then for no reason you start speaking in tongues.
many concrete manifestations of the abstract human nature of want. george/lennie/curley's wife/curley all fell in the hoop of tragedy in trying to obtain something they desire, which by definition is what they don't feel like having. unfortunately it's the mentally disabled who gets to die in his dreams without regret.
Director Lewis Milestone's winning adaptation of John Steinbeck's classic novel is melodramatic, certainly; but the extraordinary story and characters and strong performances pull it through - Lon Chaney Jr. is particularly superb, it's a shame he was never given a career opportunity like this again. As dated as it may be, the story is strong enough to make it a classic.