Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z Vol. 3, No. 5.
A Film Review. — Of Mice and Men
A Film Review.
Of Mice and Men.
Of John Steinbeck's novel "Of Mice and Men" an American reviewer wrote - "Steinbeck's problem in writing this book was to make U.S. lower depths realistic without becoming drab. Even harder was to make his mangy bottom-dogs plausible and pathetic without making George and Lennie's relationship grotesque or gooey." In somewhat similar attitude the New Zealand press received Lewis Milestone's film version.
"Mice and Men" from every view point is one of the finest films that Hollywood has' produced. In this instance, but one of the few, the great U.S. film centre has done justice to the valuable medium a virtual monopoly has entrusted. But the film will not Box Office; its rude theme is shattering to entertainment complacency.
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To convert the facile pen pictures of Steinbeck to the reality of film, to adjust for tender and moral public ears the grim poetic speech of the migratory worker, to reshuffle the book sequence without perversion, and yet retain the original force of the novel was no mean task. It is a credit to the genius of Lewis Milestone and to those who worked with him, that, this was achieved; for the written word knows not the limits of the camera. The omission of Lennie's visions of Aunt Clara and the rabbit, the transpositions of dialogue, the alterations in the first-night sequence were points which no close follower of the novel would be justified in criticising. Cinema technique is not writing technique and effect were heightened.
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Technically, and apart from theme, It was superb Sound, settings, characteri sation reflected [unclear: skilled] handling. I remember no other Hollywood production, except perhaps Disney's "Snow-White," in which music was so closely studied in relation to scene and dialogue. It seemed almost that the Auden and Cavalcanti of "Night Mail" lived in its splendid co-ordinated rhythms. Camera work was good, the shots cleverly contrived to the theme. In no other U.S. film have I seen more attention paid to the important details of setting which make or unmake an atmosphere.
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Probably the beet scene pictorially, Mae departing the thresher, with mule wagons crossing over-screen in the middle foreground. Most significant sequence, Carlson shooting Candy's dog.
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"Mice and Men" film version, stirred, provoked thought, did not over-effect emotion, did all that intelligent use of the medium should do. And one nice old lady, concerned, upset, thought it was crude, immoral.