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The Green Mile

A movie directed by Frank Darabont

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Fine Performances make up for racial undertones...

  • Sep 6, 2000
  • by
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 involved, but especially Tom Hanks and Michael Clark Duncan. On the other hand I was offended by Stephen Kings comparison of Black men to dogs: both are loyal and simpleminded, but not to be trusted, for one day they will turn on you with murder and lust in their hearts, at which point they should be shoot! And of course the movie could not end without Duncan’s character being referred to as a nig*er at least once! It brings back memories of Hemingway to my mind.

The Plot: Though somewhat of a racist, Stephan King is a good storyteller, able to weave oft complicated and unpredictable human emotions into a story that holds your attention. Mr. King’s ability to play on the natural human trait of fear the unknown makes his story’s compelling page-turners, and The Green Mile is no exception.

Though predicable in places, the movie was full of surprises, and even my spouse, who did not like the movie over all was fixated enough to watch it until the end. She just had to know the outcome. And that is where the movie excels; it makes you care about the eventual conclusion. And dare I say a few tears were shed before the movie wrapped.

Tom Hanks’ Paul Edgecomb—called Pa(?) by his men—is a death row supervisor at a Louisiana state prison in the 1930’s. Paul’s life changes dramatically when John Coffey (Michael Clark Duncan), a towering hulk of a Black man convicted of raping and murdering two little white girls, is sent to The Green Mile, the guards’ term for Death Row. Edgecomb befriends the kind, gentle Coffey who by the way is afraid of the dark, and along the way learns that Coffey is not only innocent of the crime he has been convicted of, but is possessed with the ability to…sorry can’t give too much away. Edgecomb’s discoveries set up an interesting moral dilemma, one most can identify with.

Hank’s as usual turns in a stellar performance. Like Mel Gibson and Laurence Fishburne (two of my favorite actors), Tom Hanks has an intensity that almost makes me forget I am watching an actor; he becomes the part, he lives and breathes the part.

Michael Clark Duncan a 6’5” 320lbs, former ditch digger from Chicago, turned in touching and brilliant performance which garnered him a Best Supporting Actor (Academy Award) nomination last year (he lost to Michael Cain), and rave reviews from critics. The range of pure emotion exhibited by Duncan marks him as an accomplished and gifted actor in my mind. Considering The Green Mile is just his second major film, his nomination is a remarkable achievement.

So do I recommend this movie, well yes, despite the offensive material, I still enjoyed the movie overall. I can overlook King’s ignorance and racial bias’ and enjoy his body of work, if only second hand. If for nothing else watch the movie to witness a shining performance by a man I hope we a lot more of.

Primary Cast Members:

Michael Clarke Duncan: John Coffey
Tom Hanks: Paul Edgecomb
Bonnie Hunt: Janice Edgecomb
James Cromwell: Hal Moores
Patricia Clarkson: Melinda Moores
Michael Jeter: Eduard Delacroix
Graham Greene: Arlen Bitterbuck
Doug Hutchison: Percy Whitmore
Gary Sinise: Burt Hammersmith
Sam Rockwell: William Wharton
Barry Pepper: Dean Stanton
David Morse: Brutus Howell
Jeffery DeMunn: Harry Terwilliger
Dabbs Greer: Old Paul

Release Date: 1999
Genre: Drama
Director: Darabont, Frank
Running Time: 3:09


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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 . March 20, 2009
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"   ~Lard     I must admit of all the movies I’ve seen over the years, The Green …
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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Vincent Martin ()
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I am an IT Professional and have worked in the industry for over 20 years. I may be a computer geek, but I also like reading, writing, cooking, music, current events and regretfully, politics.
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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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