Burgess Meredith and Lon Chaney, Jr. star as cousins George Milton and Lennie Small in director Lewis Milestone's adaptation of the Steinbeck classic. Itinerant workers in Depression-era California, they dream of saving enough to buy a ranch. But this seems unlikely, since they are constantly being fired due to the feeblemindedness of the mountainous Lennie. Soon after hiring on at a new ranch, they must confront the pugnacious Curly (Bob Steele), while trying to deal with his flirtatious wife, Mae (Betty Field).
Lewis Milestone - American director/screenwriter
Lev Milstein - American director/screenwriter
Burgess Meredith - American actor
Hal Roach - Legendary producer of early comedies
Betty Field - American Character Actress
Lon Chaney Jr. - American actor, THE WOLFMAN (1941)
Creighton Chaney - American actor, THE WOLFMAN (1941)
Lon Chaney - American actor, THE WOLFMAN (1941)
Norbert F. Brodine - American Director of Production
Norbert F. Brodin - American Director of Production
Norbert Brodine - American Director of Production
Aaron Copland - American Composer/Pianist
Bob Steele - American Actor
Charles Bickford - American Actor
Director Lewis Milestone, at one time an itinerant worker himself, conveys a profound sense of the loneliness in the wide open spaces of the West in this moving adaptation of the Steinbeck classic. Starring Burgess Meredith as George Milton and Lon Chaney, Jr. as his mentally-challenged, powerfully-built cousin, Lennie Small, the film follows the fortunes of the two wandering workers in Depression-era California. Although they're invariably fired from any job they get due to Lennie's limitations, George refuses to abandon his cousin, and they dream of saving enough money to one day buy a ranch, where Lennie will tend the rabbits. The two are hired on at the ranch of Jackson (Oscar O'Shea) and quickly find themselves at odds with his son Curly (Bob Steele), while his vacuous, flirtatious wife, Mae (Betty Field), teases the uncomprehending Lennie, enjoying her power over this behemoth. George, fearing the worst, warns Lennie to avoid her. Later, Lennie, who's unable to gauge his strength, accidentally kills a pet rabbit. Mae tries to console him by allowing him to stroke her hair, an offer which leads to tragedy. This extremely compelling film is one of Milestone's best, with Chaney giving the performance of his career, and Copland once again providing a score which powerfully evokes the West.
Theatrical release: December 30, 1939. The film was shot in Agoura, California. Future director and bullfighter Budd Boetticher worked as a horse wrangler on the second unit.
"Milestone's adaptation of John Steinbeck's novel stands alongside Ford's THE GRAPES OF WRATH as one of Hollywood's most poignant evocations of the Depression era." - 02/01/2008 Sight and Sound, p.95