The Green Mile is a 1999 American fantasy crime drama film written and directed by Frank Darabont and adapted from the 1996 Stephen King novel of the same name. The film is told in a flashback format and stars Tom Hanks as Paul Edgecomb and Michael Clarke Duncan as John Coffey with supporting roles by David Morse, Bonnie Hunt, and James Cromwell. The film also features Dabbs Greer, in his final film, as the old Paul Edgecomb. The film tells the story of Paul's life as a death row corrections officer during the Great Depression in the United States, and the supernatural events he witnessed.
The film was nominated for four Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor for Michael Clarke Duncan, Best Sound, and Best Adapted Screenplay.
In a Louisiana assisted-living home in 1999, Paul Edgecomb begins to cry while watching the film Top Hat. His companion Elaine becomes concerned and Paul explains to her that the film reminded him of the events of 1935, which took place when he was a prison officer, in charge of death row, what they refer to as the "Green Mile".
In 1935, Paul supervises officers Brutus Howell, Dean Stanton, Harry Terwilliger, and Percy Wetmore at Cold Mountain Penitentiary. Paul is suffering from a severe bladder infection and receives John Coffey, a physically imposing but mentally challenged black man, into his custody. John had been sentenced to death after being convicted of raping and murdering two white girls. One of the other inmates is a Native-American named Arlen Bitterbuck, who is charged with murder and is the first to be executed. Percy demonstrates a severe sadistic streak but, as the nephew of Louisiana's First Lady, is beyond reproach. He is particularly abusive with inmate Eduard Delacroix; he breaks Del's fingers with his baton, steps on a pet mouse named Mr. Jingles, which Del had adopted, repeatedly calls him by a gay slur, and ultimately sabotages his execution by failing to soak the sponge used to conduct electricity to Del's head; Del dies screaming in pain.
John begins to demonstrate supernatural powers; he cures Paul's bladder infection, resurrects Mr. Jingles, and heals Melinda Moores, wife of the prison's chief warden, of a brain tumor. This last affliction he releases into Percy, who under its influence shoots another prisoner, mass murderer William Wharton, dead. Wharton had from the moment of his arrival been a troublemaker; he attacked the guards as he was being escorted into the block, made mischief on two occasions later which caused Paul to order him restrained in the block's padded cell, groped Percy, racially insulted John, and revealed psychically to John that he is in fact responsible for the crime for which John was condemned. John then reveals the story psychically to Paul, but in so doing releases his supernatural energy into Paul. Meanwhile, Percy is committed to the insane asylum.
Distraught over the notion of executing an innocent man, John tells Paul that he does in fact wish to die as he views the world as a cruel place. Mentioning that he had never seen a movie before, John watches Top Hat with the other guards as a last request. John is executed that night, although he refuses the customary hood as he is afraid of the dark. Paul concludes his story by telling Elaine that John's was the last execution that he and Brutus supervised; following Coffey's execution they both took jobs in the juvenile system.
Elaine realizes that, since he had a grown son in 1935, Paul must be much older than he looks. Paul reveals that he is in fact 108 years of age. Not only is he still alive, so is Del's mouse, Mister Jingles. Paul then muses that if John's power could make a mouse live for as long as Mr. Jingles has, how much longer does he himself have left?
- Tom Hanks as Paul Edgecomb
- Dabbs Greer as old Paul Edgecomb
- David Morse as Brutus "Brutal" Howell
- Bonnie Hunt as Jan Edgecomb
- Michael Clarke Duncan as John Coffey
- James Cromwell as Hal Moores
- Michael Jeter as Eduard "Del" Delacroix
- Doug Hutchison as Percy Wetmore
- Sam Rockwell as William "Wild Bill" Wharton
- Jeffrey DeMunn as Harry Terwilliger
- Barry Pepper as Dean Stanton
- Patricia Clarkson as Melinda Moores
- Brent Briscoe as Bill Dodge
- Harry Dean Stanton as Toot-Toot
- Gary Sinise as Burt Hammersmith
- Graham Greene as Arlen Bitterbuck
- William Sadler as Klaus Detterick
- Bill McKinney as Jack Van Hay
- Jon Polito as "D" Block Prison Guard
- Eve Brent as Elaine Connelly
- Paula Malcomson as Marjorie Detterick
Production & Development
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.
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.
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.
- Main article: The Green Mile (soundtrack)
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.
- The Green Mile at the TCM Movie Database
- The Green Mile at AllMovie
- The Green Mile at Rotten Tomatoes