Tag Archives: Burgess Meredith

Of Mice And Men

Directed by Lewis Milestone
Produced by Lewis Milestone
Written by John Steinbeck (novel)
Eugene Solow
Starring
Burgess Meredith
Betty Field
Lon Chaney, Jr.
Charles Bickford
Bob Steele
Noah Beery, Jr.
Music by Aaron Copland
Cinematography Norbert Brodine
Studio Hal Roach Studios
Distributed by United Artists
Release date December 30, 1939
Running time 111 minutes
Language English

The 1939 version Of Mice And Men is a film that has perhaps been forgotten a bit over time, especially when compared to some of the other movies that came out during  1939/40. It is quite easy to forget just how great this movie was and how iconic the performance of Lon Chaney Jr. is as Lennie. I guess part of the reason for it to be forgotten in this country could be because it was banned from being released here in Australia for about twenty or so years, thanks to our diligent Chief Censor Creswell O’Reilly who deemed this film to be morally inappropriate to be screened here because… well actually after watching the film I cannot see any reason for it to be banned other than we were (and probably still are) quite prudish. That there doesn’t seem to have been much outrage at the time that a best picture nominated film was banned from being seen by us Aussies is a bit of a concern.

As I said earlier in this post Lon Chaney’s performance as Lennie is quite iconic and it is a shame that it has been overshadowed by his latter role as the Wolf Man. The Lennie character and Chaney’s portrayal of him were parodied numerous times over the next two decades by animators Tex Avery at MGM and Chuck Jones at Warner Bros with the most obvious parody is the Avery cartoon Lonesome Lenny in which Lenny calls Screwball Squirrel ‘George’ and… well see for yourself.

Of course when ever you see a cartoon character talking about ‘tending the rabbits’ they are parodying Chaney.

Also I think Burgess Meredith’s performance as George should be mentioned. Most people only know Meredith as The Penguin from the Batman TV series or as Mickey from the Rocky films, so it is good to see him in his younger days. He gives a great performance as George who is always looking out for the ‘slow witted’ Lennie as can be seen in the final scene where he must make a harrowing decision.

Overall this is a prety good film. I have previously seen the 1980s version with Randy Quaid as Lennie but feel that this version was much better. It is of course based on John Steinbeck’s 1937 novel which is also a great read.

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Clash Of The Titans

Directed by Desmond Davis
Produced by Ray Harryhausen & Charles H. Schneer
Written by Beverley Cross
Starring Laurence Olivier
Harry Hamlin
Judi Bowker
Maggie Smith
Ursula Andress
Burgess Meredith
Music by Laurence Rosenthal
Cinematography Ted Moore
Editing by Timothy Gee
Distributed by MGM
Warner Home Video (International DVD)
Release date(s) June 12, 1981
Running time 118 min
Country United States
Language English

Titans will clash. This is the idiotic and uncreative tagline from the new version of Clash Of The Titans, due to be released in April. While I am sure that the new film will be appreciated by those film goers who are able to turn their brains off for two hours, I am sure that I will prefer the original version. Whilst the new version will undoubtedly have lots of cool computer generated characters and use loads of motion capture technology, I prefer watching Ray Harryhausen’s hand crafted and meticulous stop motion animation.

I could lie and say that Ray’s work on this film was state of the art, but in 1981 Ray’s craft had been equalled and surpassed by other creators that he had inspired. Clash Of The Titans looks very quant when compared to The Empire Strikes Back, which was released over twelve months earlier. What looked spectacular in the 1950s and 60s looks rather dated in the 80s, although there are a couple of great moments with Ray’s creations. The scenes where Pegasus is flying look really great as does the scenes with Medusa, while the Kraken looks like a standard Harryhausen giant monster. The only real miscue is Bubo the golden owl who is both annoying and unconvincing in a Jar Jar Binks kind of way.

Still this is a very enjoyable film. There are lots of renowned actors such as Laurence Olivier, Burgess Meredith and Maggie Smith (who looks as old here as she does in the Harry Potter films), as well as a brief appearance of former Bond girl Ursula Andress. It’s a fun movie and there is a lot of action. It is a typical Ray Harryhausen movie. I guess that Gen Yers won’t like this as they would prefer modern crap like Transformers and the worst of Uwe Boll, where there is a lot of fast paced mindless action and blowing shit up for no reason. Those people should just watch the big budget, computer made remake and ignore the original.