The Green Mile (film)
|The Green Mile|
Theatrical release poster by Drew Struzan
|Directed by||Frank Darabont|
|Screenplay by||Frank Darabont|
|Based on||The Green Mile|
by Stephen King
|Music by||Thomas Newman|
|Edited by||Richard Francis-Bruce|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
|Box office||$290.7 million|
The Green Mile is a 1999 American fantasy crime drama film written and directed by Frank Darabont and based on on Stephen King’s 1996 novel of the same name. It stars Tom Hanks as a death row corrections officer during the U.S. Great Depression who witnesses supernatural events that occur after an enigmatic inmate (Michael Clarke Duncan) is brought to his facility. David Morse, Bonnie Hunt, and James Cromwell appear in supporting roles.
The film received positive reviews from critics and grossed $290 million on a $60 million budget. It was nominated for four Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor for Duncan, Best Sound, and Best Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published.
At a Louisiana assisted-living facility in 1999, the elderly Paul Edgecomb becomes emotional while watching the film Top Hat. His companion, Elaine, becomes concerned, and Paul tells her that the film reminded him of events in 1935, when he was a prison officer in charge of death row, also referred to as the "Green Mile".
In 1935, Paul supervises Brutus Howell, Dean Stanton, Harry Terwilliger, and Percy Wetmore at Cold Mountain Penitentiary where prisoners Arlen Bitterbuck and Eduard Delacroix, AKA "Del", are incarcerated and awaiting their execution. While most of the guards work well, both with each other and with the inmates, Percy is a sadistic young man who enjoys demonstrating his power by harassing both prisoners, feeling disgruntled on the job.
While suffering from a severe bladder infection, Paul is introduced to John Coffey, a physically imposing but mentally challenged, gentle black man who has been sentenced to death after being convicted of raping and murdering two white girls. After Bitterbuck is executed and another prisoner has arrived - William Wharton, a problematic murderer who is determined to cause as much trouble as he can - John begins demonstrating supernatural powers by curing Paul's bladder infection.
Percy continues his disgruntled antics; particularly he breaks Del's fingers with his nightstick and crushes to death Del's adopted pet mouse, Mr. Jingles, although the creature is immediately resurrected by Coffey, without Percy noticing. Eventually, Percy sabotages Del's electric chair execution by deliberately neglecting to soak the sponge used to conduct electricity to Del's head. As a result, Del suffers a longer and more painful death by burning alive.
Paul requests Coffey to use his powers to treat the prison Warden's wife, who is terminally ill. He arranges to lock Percy in isolation and sedate Wharton, then takes Coffey to the Warden's house. In the process, Wharton briefly wakes up and reaches through the cell bars and grabs Coffey's arm as he is being walked past, before passing out again. This contact causes Coffey to experience Wharton's memories and reveals to Coffey that Wharton is the actual killer of the two white girls; Coffey was arrested as he had been at the scene unsuccessfully attempting to resurrect the victims. Although the Warden is reluctant to allow Coffey to approach his dying wife, he eventually consents to it and Coffey cures her. Returned to prison, a seriously ill Coffey transfers "the thing" he removed from the Warden's wife to Percy's mouth. As a result, Percy becomes mentally ill, kills William Wharton in an act of revenge (for Wharton previously terrorizing Percy to the point of making him wet himself), and is admitted to an insane asylum after entering a catatonic state; he had previously arranged to resign from Cold Mountain and take a new job at the asylum following Del's execution.
Paul discusses with Coffey the possibility of an unlikely long term escape, as Paul does not wish to destroy what he believes to be a miracle of God. Although distraught over the notion of being executed for a crime of which he isn't guilty, Coffey tells Paul that he has been through enough psychical experience with humanity's cruelty and that he is ready to die. Mentioning that he has never seen a movie before, Coffey watches Top Hat with the guards as a last request. Later that night, when the guards escort Coffey to the execution room, Coffey asks that the customary hood not be placed over his head, as he is afraid of the dark. Paul himself commands the execution, and somberly shakes hands with Coffey before Coffey is executed.
The elderly Paul concludes his story by telling Elaine that Coffey's execution was the last one that he and Howell supervised; afterward, they both resigned from the penitentiary and took jobs in the juvenile system. Elaine realizes that Paul must be much older than he looks, as he had a grown son in 1935. Del's pet mouse, Mr. Jingles, is still alive, and is cared for by Paul. Paul explains that Coffey's healing powers (though Coffey never intended for them to have such a long-term effect) have given him an extraordinary lifespan. Paul believes that his longevity is a punishment from God for executing Coffey, causing Paul to outlive his family and friends, including Elaine. Later, Paul attends Elaine's funeral and, realizing that Mr. Jingles has lived for six decades now, wonders how far his own life might extend.
- Tom Hanks as Paul Edgecomb
- Dabbs Greer as Old Paul
- David Morse as Brutus "Brutal" Howell
- Bonnie Hunt as Jan Edgecomb
- Michael Clarke Duncan as John Coffey
- James Cromwell as Warden Hal Moores
- Michael Jeter as Eduard Delacroix
- Graham Greene as Arlen Bitterbuck
- Doug Hutchison as Percy Wetmore
- Sam Rockwell as William "Wild Bill" Wharton
- Barry Pepper as Dean Stanton
- Jeffrey DeMunn as Harry Terwilliger
- Patricia Clarkson as Melinda Moores
- Harry Dean Stanton as Toot-Toot
- Bill McKinney as Jack Van Hay
- Brent Briscoe as Bill Dodge
- Eve Brent as Elaine Connelly
- William Sadler as Klaus Detterick
- Paula Malcomson as Marjorie Detterick
- Evanne and Bailey Drucker as Kathy and Cora Detterick
- Gary Sinise as Burt Hammersmith
Darabont adapted the novel into a screenplay in under eight weeks.
Hanks and Darabont met at an Academy Award luncheon in 1994. Stephen King stated he envisioned Hanks in the role and was happy when Darabont mentioned his name. Hanks was originally supposed to play elderly Paul Edgecomb as well, but the makeup tests did not make him look credible enough to be an elderly man. Because of this Greer was hired to play the older Edgecomb.
Duncan credited his casting to Bruce Willis, with whom he had worked on the film Armageddon one year earlier. According to Duncan, Willis introduced him to Darabont after hearing of the open call for John Coffey. Basketball player Shaquille O’Neal was considered for the role of John Coffey.
Morse had not heard about the script until he was offered the role. He stated he was in tears by the end of it. Darabont wanted Cromwell from the start, and after he read the script, Cromwell was moved and agreed.
The official film soundtrack, Music from the Motion Picture The Green Mile, was released on December 19, 1999 by Warner Bros. It contains 37 tracks, primarily instrumental tracks from the film score by Thomas Newman. It also contains four vocal tracks: "Cheek to Cheek" by Fred Astaire, "I Can't Give You Anything but Love, Baby" by Billie Holiday, "Did You Ever See a Dream Walking?" by Gene Austin, and "Charmaine" by Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians.
Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film an approval rating of 79% based on 132 reviews, with an average rating of 6.9/10. The critical consensus states "Though The Green Mile is long, critics say it's an absorbing, emotionally powerful experience." The film also has a score of 61 out of 100 on Metacritic based on 36 critics indicating "generally favorable reviews".
Roger Ebert gave the film 3 1⁄2 stars out of 4, writing "The film is a shade over three hours long. I appreciated the extra time, which allows us to feel the passage of prison months and years." Forbes commentator Dawn Mendez referred to the character of John Coffey as a "'magic Negro' figure"—a term describing a stereotypical fictional black person depicted in a fictional work as a "saintly, nonthreatening" person whose purpose in life is to solve a problem for or otherwise further the happiness of a white person.
Awards and honors
- Nominated – Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role – Michael Clarke Duncan
- Nominated – Best Picture – David Valdes, Frank Darabont
- Nominated – Best Sound – Robert J. Litt, Elliot Tyson, Michael Herbick and Willie D. Burton
- Nominated – Best Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published – Frank Darabont
- Won – Best Supporting Actor – Michael Clarke Duncan
- Won – Best Supporting Actress – Patricia Clarkson
- Won – Best Action/Adventure/Thriller Film
- Nominated – Best Director – Frank Darabont
- Nominated – Best Music – Thomas Newman
2000 Broadcast Music Incorporated Film & TV Awards
- Won – Film Music Award – Thomas Newman
2000 Black Reel Awards
- Won – Theatrical – Best Supporting Actor – Michael Clarke Duncan
2000 Blockbuster Entertainment Awards
- Won – Favorite Actor – Drama – Tom Hanks
- Nominated – Favorite Supporting Actor – Drama – Michael Clarke Duncan
- Nominated – Favorite Supporting Actress – Drama – Bonnie Hunt
2000 Bram Stoker Awards
- Nominated – Best Screenplay – Frank Darabont
- Won – Best Screenplay, Adaptation – Frank Darabont
- Won – Best Supporting Actor – Michael Clarke Duncan
- Nominated – Best Film
1999 Chicago Film Critics Association Awards
- Nominated – Best Supporting Actor – Michael Clarke Duncan
- Nominated – Most Promising Actor – Michael Clarke Duncan
- Nominated – Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures – Frank Darabont
- Nominated – Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture – Michael Clarke Duncan
2000 NAACP Image Awards
- Nominated – Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture – Michael Clarke Duncan
2000 MTV Movie Awards
- Nominated – Best Breakthrough Male Performance – Michael Clarke Duncan
2000 Motion Picture Sound Editors (Golden Reel Awards)
- Nominated – Best Sound Editing – Dialogue and ADR – Mark A. Mangini, Julia Evershade
- Nominated – Best Sound Editing – Effects and Foley – Mark A. Mangini, Aaron Glascock, Howell Gibbens, David E. Stone, Solange S. Schwalbe
- Won – Favorite All-Around Motion Picture
- Won – Favorite Dramatic Motion Picture
- Nominated – Best Script – Frank Darabont
- Nominated – Outstanding Performance by a Cast
- Nominated – Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role – Michael Clarke Duncan
- Nominated — Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture — Doug Hutchison
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- "About the Film". Archived from the original on November 8, 2011. Retrieved November 1, 2011.
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- "15 Things You Might Not Know About The Green Mile". mentalfloss.com. May 14, 2015. Retrieved January 27, 2019.
- Doty, Meriah (September 4, 2012). "Bruce Willis helped Michael Clarke Duncan get his Oscar caliber role". Yahoo! Movies.
- Mccourt, Judith (June 22, 2000). "Renters See 'Green' as Hanks Title Breaks Debut Record". videostoremag.com. Archived from the original on November 2, 2000. Retrieved October 14, 2019.
- Wolf, Jessica (April 27, 2001). "Retailers See a Hot Summer of Video and DVD Ahead". hive4media.com. Archived from the original on June 20, 2001. Retrieved September 8, 2019.
- "The Green Mile (1999)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved September 22, 2014.
- "The Green Mile Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved September 25, 2015.
- "The Green Mile". Roger Ebert dot com. December 10, 1999.
- Mendez, Dawn (January 23, 2009). "The 'Magic Negro'". Forbes. Retrieved October 26, 2009.
- "The 72nd Academy Awards (2000) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. Retrieved November 19, 2011.
- Lyman, Rick (March 28, 2000). "Oscar Victory Finally Lifts the Cloud for DreamWorks". The New York Times. Retrieved November 4, 2011.
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