Of Mice and Men
(PG) 106min (Arrow/ DVD Retail)
Made only a couple of years after the John Steinbeck novel was published, this respectful 1939 adaptation by Lewis Milestone tells the now famous story of the wily and slight George (Burgess Meredith) and his gentle Goliath buddy, Lenny (Lon Chaney Jr).
Working as itinerant farm labourers but with dreams of getting their own place, George spends most of his time keeping his clumsy, mentally slow pal out of trouble, especially difficult on a farm populated by an insecure husband, a wife who looks like she is always ready to wander, and a black hand who is resentful that he can’t socialise with the whites. This is smoothly and freshly directed, as evidenced in one scene in which the wife seems to be witnessing her husband beating another man in a tracking long shot, only for us to notice her moments later enter the very frame and try to come to the man’s rescue.