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The Green Mile

A movie directed by Frank Darabont

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The Green Mile - 1999

  • Mar 20, 2009
  • by
Pros: tight cast, wonderful performances, good story

Cons: none for me

The Bottom Line:
"And what are you being put to_death for today?
Is your family_here?
What was your last_meal?
Any last words for the_fans?
Longer you cling to_life-
More prizes for your_friends"

I must admit of all the movies I’ve seen over the years, The Green Mile ranks way near the top. Not only was it a wonderful story but the portrayal by all actors involved gave it a special sense. It is one of the few Stephen King books that have transferred to film in a good way. In fact, the addition of the film to the book made it even better because, if you are a King reader, you know he can describe the hairs on a gnat’s butt in minute detail but sometimes you just need a visual as well. And visualizing Coffey was something to behold.

It all starts in a prison in Louisiana. Well, actually it is in a nursing home when ex-guard Paul Edgecomb recounts his tale of the strange happenings on the Green Mile. 

It is the mid 30’s and seems like a normal workday until prisoner John Coffey comes to death row. Paul Edgecomb is a guard, tired of watching men slip away because of their own stupidity. He’s ready to leave the job having become jaded by the realities of life. He is also suffering from a vicious urinary problem which doesn’t help one bit.

John Coffey is a tremendously large man [although in real life he isn’t much larger than several of the people in the movie, it’s all camera angles], a walking house if you will. Despite his size, he is as mild as a person can get, almost childlike, and afraid of the dark. He faced trial and was convicted of murdering two little white girls; now he’s facing Old Sparky. Underneath all that exterior is a special gift that John finally gives to others.

Paul is joined by other guards, each with their own agendas. Brutus, sympathetic to a fault, and Percy, a sniveling little ogre that is related to some head mucky mucks and gets away with atrocities that should never happen. Coffey has company with a few others waiting their final walk as well. Eduard Delacriox, a mousy little guy, Arlen Bitterbuck as bitter as his name, Toot-Toot, and Wild Bill Wharton, the most vile of all.

Once Paul discovers the truth about Coffey’s powers, things take on a completely new outlook on the Mile, and even off the Mile, as they all take a secret journey to the warden’s home. Percy gets his nuts handed to him on a platter and Delacroix has an unfortunate ending. The truth is, no one wants to end Coffey’s life and it forces them all to look at things differently.

The Green Mile was directed by Frank Darabont; nominated for 50 awards and winning 13. It carries an R rating for violence, language, sexual situations. The casting was exceptional in this movie as each performer brought forth a wonderful interpretation of their character.

Tom Hanks played Paul Edgecomb in one of the best performances of his life. He brought a quiet justice to the part along with dignity and humor. You could feel both his peace and reluctance. A smaller role for Bonnie Hunt as his wife, Jan.

David Morse was the sympathetic guard, Brutal Howell, quite different from his name. The simpering Percy Wetmore [an appropriate name if ever] was played by Doug Hutchinson and you had zero tolerance of him throughout the movie. Michael Jeter played the unfortunate Eduard Delacroix, Graham Greene as Arlan Bitterbuck, Berry Pepper as guard Dean Stanton, Harry Dean Stanton as Toot-Toot, Sam Rockwell as the evil Wild Bill Wharton and James Cromwell as the warden, Hal Moores.

Finally there is Michael Clarke Duncan as John Coffey. A huge lumbering man with a heart to hold us all, he gave a special grace to the awfulness of that horrible place.

Features on DVD include:
Audio commentary by Frank Darabont; deleted scenes; Michael Clarke Duncan screen test; Tom Hanks makeup test; Walking the Mile featurette; Stephen King: Storyteller featuerette; Art of Adaptation featurette; Acting on the Mile featurette; Designing the Mile featurette; The Tail of Mr. Jingles featurette; trailers.

It is an extremely long and often slow moving movie, but that is how it works on the Mile, one endless day after another. It will bring you laughter and tears, anger and joy, and, in the end, a little defeat and hopelessness. However, it is worth every minute and may even make you appreciate mice a little more.


P.S. I really wanted to prove to captaind and scotte1218 that I could watch something that was worthwhile, although it took me forever to find something. Then again, it IS Stephen King … lol …


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More The Green Mile (movie) reviews
review by . July 14, 2009
In the late 80's a young film maker named Frank Darabont paid Stephen King a dollar to adapt his short story "The Lady in the Room," into a short film when he was a student in film school.  King had a deal going where aspiring film makers could make short films out of his story for a dollar.  It was called a dollar baby.  Most times, King was disappointed with what was made.  Yet when it came to Darabont, he liked it and thought highly of it.  Years later Frank …
review by . May 15, 2009
In its simplest form The Green Mile is about an eye for an eye ... but when have you known Stephen King to be simple? Stephen King ... the man who gets paid fifty thousand dollars for writing "boo" on a napkin. Stephen King. In the beginning we meet an elderly gentleman who tells of his time working on "The Green Mile" Death Row for inmates in Louisiana's Cold Mountain Penitentiary. Shortly thereafter, we meet John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan) who was sentenced to death for the murder of two young …
review by . September 06, 2000
Pros: Stellar performance by cast, good plot..     Cons: Racial undertones...     I didn’t know quite what to expect when I slipped Steven King’s The Green Mile into my DVD player. It is not often that works by Mr. King that later get turned into movies garner as much high praise and critical acclaim as this movie did. After watching this movie I am of two minds about my final assessment. On the one hand I thoroughly enjoyed the performances of all the actors …
review by . January 16, 2000
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: Great Story, Good Acting, WELL DONE     Cons: Kind of long, one really gross scene     The Green Mile astonished me. I had heard from friends that it was a good show. I had heard it was over 3 hours long. I had heard that it was touching and poignant. I heard it was a prison movie.      Stephen King. Death Row. Prison Movie. How do I get to touching and poignant from there? Well, I go and sit in the movie theater today for more than …
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About this movie


Director Frank Darabont's second adaptation of a Stephen King prison tale (the first being 1994's nearly flawless THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION) is a hopeful charmer with a hint of the supernatural. The story focuses on Paul Edgecomb (Tom Hanks), a Louisiana security guard who works on death row during the Great Depression. When John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan), a gigantic black man convicted of raping and murdering two white girls, joins the other prisoners on the row, Paul's life is forever altered. Coffey doesn't fit the mold of a psychopathic killer; he's kind, gentle, and afraid of the dark. As the story progresses, Edgecomb learns that there is something more than simple goodness to Coffey. Building to a hopeful climax, Darabont once again proves that he is King's most loyal cinematic translator. The film features uniformly excellent performances in leading and supporting roles, notably Duncan as Coffey; David Morse and Barry Pepper as Hanks's fellow prison guards; and Michael Jeter as condemned kill...
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Director: Frank Darabont
Genre: Drama
Release Date: December 10, 1999
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: Frank Darabont
DVD Release Date: June 13, 2000
Runtime: 3hrs 7min
Studio: Warner Bros Pictures, Castle Rock Entertainment
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