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In this week’s unusually highbrow edition of Beyond The Box Set, we continue our series on movies directed by actors with a look back at the 1992 adaptation of John Steinbeck’s classic American novella Of Mice An Men – directed by Gary Sinise, who also stars in the movie as George Milton, migrant ranch worker and fiercely loyal protector of his slow-witted companion Lennie Small (John Malkovich).
Of Mice And Men is the kind of straightforwardly respectful literary adaptations that was hugely popular in the 80s and early 90s – Merchant Ivory basically made a cottage industry out of them – but in recent years they seem to have fallen slightly out of fashion. Watching it now, the film is almost quaint in its loyalty to the source text and comes off a little stagey at times, but the emotional thrust of the story is undeniable – elevated considerably by the performances of the uniformly excellent cast.
Coming up with sequel ideas for one of the most beloved books of the past century is a tall order indeed – and neither of us quite had the gumption to retcon the book and film’s tragic ending – or to follow George Milton after he and Lennie definitively parted ways. So instead, one of us worked up an origin story with a questionable cast and a flagrant disregard for historical accuracy, while the other placed the story at the centre of a much more modern tragedy involving a Hollywood A-lister in career freefall…
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Next week, we take a look at a dark 90s comedy that threatened to derail one of the most meteoric rises to Hollywood stardom of the era. Until then, so long and thanks for listening!