HTF REVIEW: "Of Mice and Men" (1992) (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED) (with screenshots)

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ronald Epstein, Feb 13, 2003.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator

    Jul 3, 1997
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    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein

    Of Mice and Men
    Special Edition

    Studio: MGM
    Year: 1992
    Rated: PG-13
    Film Length: 110 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (1.85:1)
    Subtitles: English, Spanish and French

    We have a dream. Someday, we'll have
    a little house and a couple of acres. A
    place to call home.

    Author John Steinbeck was born in Salinas, California
    in 1902. His most famous books were written in the
    1930s and 1940s, and are all set in California. One
    of his most famous novels, Of Mice and Men is
    set in the very farmland of the Salinas valley, where
    the author was born. The book was published in
    early February 1937 and by mid February had sold
    117,000 copies.


    Written by John Steinbeck, "Of Mice and Men" tells
    the tale of two men who travel together all the time,
    hoping to own an acre of land and a nice home they
    can call their own. George is a smart man who always
    seems to have things figured out. Lennie is a giant
    with a mind of a young child. George looks after him,
    but it is not easy. Lennie always seems to get himself
    in some kind of trouble, and George is always the one
    who has to help him out. And when they find jobs on
    a ranch, George finds out just exactly how fast the
    best laid out plans can vanish into thin air.


    The book was made into a film, released the same year
    as Gone With The Wind, Mr. Smith Goes To Washington
    and The Wizard Of Oz. Despite the heavy
    competition that year, Of Mice And Men was
    nominated for four Oscars but walked away with none.

    Several years ago my father and I sat down to watch
    the original classic on VHS. My Dad had wanted me
    to see this picture in hopes that I would appreciate
    it as much as he had. The biggest thrill for me was
    watching a very young Burgess Meredith (George) and
    Lon Chaney Jr. (Lennie) share the starring roles.
    I also got a kick out of the fact that I finally
    recognized where some of the greatest Bugs Bunny
    cartoon lines ("Tell me 'bout the rabbits, George")
    derived from. You can bet that by the time the film
    was over, I had greatly appreciated what I had just

    I never initially had any desire to watch this 1992
    remake of Lewis Milestone's 1939 classic. After I
    had seen the original film, I never expected that
    a remake could possibly be as good.


    This 1992 remake closely follows the John Steinbeck
    book that it adapted. You couldn't ask for a better
    team of actors, as the film features veterans of
    Chicago's acclaimed Steppenwolf Theater, Gary Sinise
    (George) and John Malkovich (Lennie). Both actors
    share a compassionate chemistry that makes George
    and Lennie inseparable. With heartbreakingly
    beautiful photography by Kenneth MacMillan, this
    film takes on a beautiful flavor of its own. It's
    also important to note that this was Gary Sinise's
    first directorial effort, but you would never know it.

    How is the transfer?

    I would have been heartbroken if a film filled with
    such wonderful cinematography as this would have
    been marred by a lackluster transfer. Fortunately,
    MGM has given us a gorgeous transfer that does
    justice to the film's stunning outdoor scenery of
    workers in the field. Images are ultra-sharp and
    well detailed, even during the film's night and
    darkened barn interior scenes. The film has a
    very natural look to it, with terrific color
    saturation. Black levels are rock solid here. There
    are a few blemishes, but not enough worth mentioning
    any further. Just a really beautiful transfer.


    While this film contains a Dolby Surround track,
    I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of surround
    information that was presented here. Sound is fairly
    robust with excellent stereo separation across the
    fronts. Mark Isham's score seems to divide itself
    nicely between the front and rear channels. Dialogue
    also seems to keep itself mainly in the center channel,
    though that same channel seems to be the "catch-all"
    for a lot of misguided sound. The rears channels do
    a really nice job of providing effect noise such as
    sounds inside a rail car, or nature that surrounds
    the ranch and its adjoining environment.

    Special Features


    MGM has released this brand new Special Edition
    on a dual-sided disc. The feature resides on the
    first side and the supplements reside on the second.

    I listened to bits and pieces of the full-length
    commentary by Director/Star Gary Sinise who
    tells us that he had wanted to do this film ever
    since he had performed it on stage with John
    Malkovich decades before. We learn how the Director
    used a vineyard in southern California as the
    setting for the Tyler ranch. Sinise tells us how
    excited he was to have Ray Walston aboard in this
    film, as he admired the actor's body of work over
    his lifetime. Walston wanted the part so badly in
    fact, that he auditioned twice for it. Sinise
    talks about how the book was adapted for the screen.
    In the book, the story takes place over a 3-day
    period. Sinise stretched the story out to 6 days.
    He also wanted to show more of what went on around
    the ranch grounds rather than keeping it confined
    to the bunkhouse. Sinise is pretty low-key throughout
    this commentary, but he does offer a lot of insight
    into his filmmaking process.


    Let's take a look at the Special Features on
    Side 2.....


    In Conversation - Gary Sinise and Horton Foote
    comes across as being a very intimate discussion
    between the director and screenwriter. Gary talks
    about the emotions he felt the first time he saw the
    play, and for years since, had always felt that there
    was room for a powerful remake. Horton Foote wasn't
    readily agreeable at first to adapt the novel for
    the screen (it's not his sort of thing), but after
    seeing Gary's passion for the project, he finally
    agreed. It's sort of surprising that Gary was able
    to easily obtain the rights from Elaine Steinbeck,
    after she also saw how interested he was in making
    this film. The two men discuss their initial meeting,
    their writing sessions, and the actual production of
    the film.
    (length: approx. 26 minutes)

    There are 16 minutes of deleted scenes and
    alternate ending that include....

    * Various second unit environmental shots

    * Extended dialogue between Slim and George

    * Extended dialogue concerning getting rid of
    the old dog.

    * After making a commitment to buy the ranch, George
    enjoys a party at a bordello. This further examines
    his relationship with the women around him.

    * The alternate ending involves the discovery of
    George next to Lenny by the horsemen after the
    film's tragic ending.

    The footage is shown in full-frame, and the source
    material is in pretty bad shape. There is optional
    commentary by director Gary Sinise.

    The Making Of Mice and Men takes us 100 miles
    outside of Los Angeles as we watch the filmmakers
    in action. Gary Sinise defends his choice of remaking
    this film, stating that a classic film deserves some
    reinterpretation. Sinise and Malkovich are no
    strangers to these characters, having played them
    on stage together decades ago. This short featurette
    basically shows up clips from the film as well as
    very quick comments from Sinise, Malkovich and
    Sherilyn Fenn.
    (length: approx. 5 minutes)


    In addition to 7 minutes worth of screen test
    footage for Sherilyn Fenn, there is 11 minutes worth
    of various Make-Up Tests for the entire cast
    (the latter shown entirely without audio).

    Finally, you'll find the film's original theatrical
    on Side A of the DVD.

    Final Thoughts


    Of Mice and Men is an impressive screen
    interpretation of Steinbeck's novel. It's one of
    the greatest stories ever told about loneliness
    and lost dreams. I implore anyone that has or
    has not read the original novel to rent this film.


    I hope to buy the the original 1939 film on DVD soon.

    "And will there be rabbits, George?" "Yeah, Lennie. There'll be rabbits."

    Release Date: March 4, 2003

    All screen captures have been further compressed.
    They are for illustrative purposes only and do not
    represent actual picture quality
  2. Kyle McKnight

    Kyle McKnight Cinematographer

    Mar 8, 2001
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    Forgive me Ron for I didn't read your review. I'm just very happy this movie is coming out. I didn't know it was on the release list. I'll be buying this one.
  3. Agee Bassett

    Agee Bassett Supporting Actor

    Feb 13, 2001
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  4. Andrew Bunk

    Andrew Bunk Screenwriter

    Nov 2, 2001
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    I'm surprised we're getting an SE on this title a mere 16 months after MGM released the last version. I'm kind of on the fence about this, as I have the 2001 release, but the extras are very enticing. It is really a great movie-one of the first movies I think of whenever Malkovich is mentioned.
  5. Lucho Cohaila

    Nov 24, 2002
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    no spanish track and subtitles? [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
  6. rhett

    rhett Supporting Actor

    May 11, 2001
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    This film is a masterpiece. I have watched it countless times and am so happy to now own it on DVD with some supplemental material. The acting is all top-notch, especially! Great review Ron, and thanks for the shot of Sherylin Fenn. [​IMG]
  7. Kenneth Cummings

    Kenneth Cummings Supporting Actor

    Aug 7, 2001
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    Good review once again Ron. After reading the book in English class last year and attending the play the class arranged to see, plus seeing this very movie in class, I definataly would want to get this classic. I was disappointed when it was released as a barebone disc last year, but now it a special edition, I will pick it up.
  8. Travis Olson

    Travis Olson Supporting Actor

    Oct 7, 2001
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    Real Name:
    Travis Olson
    I didn't even know it was on the way so the thread title kinda caught me by surprise. I love this movie, nice to see MGM did it justice.
  9. Jeremy Allin

    Jeremy Allin Supporting Actor

    Oct 6, 2001
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    I was browsing some release lists a few weeks back when I stumbled across this special edition (I was about to go ahead and purchase the bare bones release of this). Thankfully I saw the listing when I did. Your review confirms a purchase.

    Thanks Ron! [​IMG]
  10. RyanJo

    RyanJo Auditioning

    Feb 6, 2003
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    Awsome review of the DVD. I have always loved this movie. My class was shown it after we read the book in high school, and I have wanted to own it ever since. I didn't know another edition was out already, but since the SE is coming out shortly, I think I can wait a little longer for the extra features and stuff. [​IMG]
  11. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator

    Jul 3, 1997
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    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein
  12. Jeff Kleist

    Jeff Kleist Executive Producer

    Dec 4, 1999
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    There's a screening upcoming in LA with a Gary Sinise Q&A. I don't think it has a date yet
  13. Gary Tooze

    Gary Tooze Producer

    Jul 3, 2000
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    I have some issues with this DVD.

  14. Andrew Bunk

    Andrew Bunk Screenwriter

    Nov 2, 2001
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    Thanks for that post Gary. I bought the original release in 2001 as I couldn't wait for this film. To me, the extras aren't worth the upgrade if the transfer is the same.

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