Of Mice and Men (ViaVision) (1992) (NTSC)
Audio Commentary-Gary Sinise
Interviews-Crew-Gary Sinise and Screenwriter Horton Foote.
Deleted Scenes-with director's commentary (18:43)
More…-Makeup Tests (11:48)
More…-Sherilyn Fenn Screen Tests (7:45)
|Year Of Production||1992|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||Gary Sinise|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.85:1|
|Video Format||480i (NTSC)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
It is the 1930s, depression era America, where George (Gary Sinise) and Lennie (John Malkovich) are itinerant workers travelling together from farm to farm looking for work. Lennie is a big, powerful man, but he has an intellectual disability which results in him having the mental capacity of a child, memory losses and being unable to control either his emotions or his physical strength so that he can unknowingly hurt people and animals. George looks after Lennie and tries to keep him out of the trouble; when that fails he has to rescue Lennie and the two quickly move on.
George and Lennie find work on the Tyler farm during the harvest. They are fortunate and find that Slim (John Terry) is a sympathetic foreman while they also make friends with Candy (Ray Walston), an elderly farm worker with a deformed hand. However, the boss’s son Curley (Casey Siemaszko) is a punk and a bully and trouble seems not far away. But the most dangerous individual on the farm is Curley’s wife (Sherilyn Fenn), a pretty, lonely, frustrated young woman who hates both Curley and her existence, trapped on the farm, which is a recipe for tragedy.
Of Mice and Men is based on the short novel by John Steinbeck. The novel had been filmed before, such as a 1939 version directed by Lewis Milestone starring Lon Chaney Jr. and Burgess Meredith, and since as a feature and as a TV movie; the novel has also been adapted into a stage play, a version of which was filmed in 2014. Director / actor Gary Sinise was the driving force behind this big screen version of Of Mice and Men; both he and John Malkovich had starred in a stage version a decade before making the film and with his knowledge of the material and with acclaimed screenwriter Horton Foote (winner of Oscars for To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) and Tender Mercies (1983)) on board Sinise sought to remain faithful to the source novel. The screenplay did expand the time frame from three to six days and also open out the locations but perhaps the most telling alteration was to the character of Curley’s wife (who is nameless in the book and the film). As played by the excellent Sherilyn Fenn she is more than a wanton; in her own right she is a sad, lonely and tragic figure, a young woman unloved and trapped in an unhappy marriage.
In fact loneliness and its opposite, companionship, are major themes in Of Mice and Men. The workers on the farm are men adrift without families; Lennie and George a number of times talk about how they are more fortunate as they have each other. One of the saddest and most telling scenes is when Candy’s old dog is shot; he loses its company and is distraught. For the itinerant workers, Curley’s wife and Lennie and George there is little hope for change with America in the midst of the depression. But, like a Greek tragedy, it is just when George and Lennie, with some help from Candy, look as if they can fulfil their dream of buying a small farm and making a new life for themselves, that their hopes, and their world, comes crashing down.
Gary Sinise is primarily known as an actor, gaining an Oscar nomination for best supporting actor in Forrest Gump but in his career spanning four decades he only directed two films, Of Mice and Men being the second and last after Miles from Home (1988). His style is unobtrusive without distractive zooms or pans; he seldom moves the camera allowing the dialogue and the acting to carry the weight of the story. Sinise is very good as George, as is Ray Walston as Candy, but the film really belongs to John Malkovich; this is one of his finest performances as the naïve, trusting and simple boy man Lennie, totally unaware of his strength and the damage he causes, at least until the damage has been done.
This fine adaptation of John Steinbeck’s novel is a powerful and sad drama, its themes of loneliness and companionship build a sense of tragic inevitability until the shattering climax.
Of Mice and Men is in the original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, 16x9 enhanced and NTSC.
This is a nice looking print with natural colours; yellow for the grain fields, the green of the trees and the blue skies. Exteriors are bright and clear with good detail although some of the interiors can be dull, losing some of the shadow detail. However, blacks are solid and exterior night scenes fare better. Skin tones are natural, brightness and contrast consistent. Other than infrequent small speckles and some motion blur, artefacts were absent.
No subtitles are available.
Audio is English Dolby Digital 2.0 at 192 Kbps, surround encoded.
Dialogue is clear, which is just as well as there is a lot of dialogue in the film. Effects including the threshing machines, wagon wheels or horses’ hooves are solid enough while some effects, such as the train, insect and animal sounds occurred in the rears as well as the music. The score by Mark Isham, who was nominated for an Oscar for A River Runs Through It (1992), is poignant and quite beautiful, using strings and piano to excellent effect.
Lip synchronisation was fine.
|Surround Channel Use|
Gary Sinise talks about some specific scenes but also about why he wanted to do the film, the source novel, the screenplay, changes made to the novel for the film, locations and sets, the cast and crew, the score, some anecdotes from the shoot and reaction to the film at Cannes. There are pauses and silences and Sinise, while pleasant enough, is not the most vibrant of commentators.
Filmed in 2003, Gary Sinise and screenwriter Horton Foote sit together and chat about how they originally got together on the project, previous film versions of the novel and the stage play, developing the screenplay, variations from the source novel, including the character of Curley’s Wife, and opening up the locations.
Also made in 2003, this is a standard period “making of” with a narration, behind the scenes footage and comments by Gary Sinise, John Malkovich, Sherilyn Fenn, co-producer Russ Smith and Elaine Steinbeck (the author’s widow); they mostly discuss the story, their characters and the relationships between characters.
Eleven deleted scenes; the quality is not the best with loads of artefacts and a few cracks on the audio. When selected on my system the audio defaulted to the film audio without commentary and I had to use the audio button on the remote to access Sinise’s commentary. He explains where the scenes fitted and why they were deleted.
Ten make-up and costume tests without sound.
Fenn's screen tests; the barn scene.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
This release of Of Mice and Men from ViaVision includes all the extras that are available on the US Region 1 DVD releases.
Strong, tragic source material skilfully adapted, themes of loneliness and companionship plus a spot on performance by John Malkovich make this version of Of Mice and Men a powerful, moving film experience.
Of Mice and Men has been released previously in Australia with only the trailer as an extra: see the review on this site here. This new version from ViaVision includes all the extras available on the US Region 1 DVD releases so an update is an option for fans.
|DVD||Sony BDP-S580, using HDMI output|
|Display||LG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||NAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.|
|Speakers||Studio Acoustics 5.1|