Plot & Details
This TV movie adaptation of John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men was a labor of love for producer-star Robert Blake, who utilized the screenplay from the 1939 Hollywood version as his guide--a screenplay personally presented to Blake by the original film's director, Lewis Milestone. Blake and Randy Quaid play George and Lennie, a pair of itinerant workers who share a dream of saving up enough money for their own ranch. George is smart, resourceful and slight-statured; Lennie has the mind of a child and the strength of Hercules. The two lifelong friends are hired on as hands at a large Salinas Valley spread. Their "best laid schemes" for a place of their own dissolve into a tragic denouement, sparked by the boss' pugnacious son Curley (Ted Neeley) and Curley's bored, faithless wife Mae (Cassie Yates). The 1939 Of Mice and Men is regarded as a masterpiece, though it suffers from the censorship restrictions of the time; curiously, this 1981 film, adapted for television by E. Nick Alexander, makes no attempt to restore the "chancy" elements that had been excised from the earlier film. Of Mice and Men was first telecast on November 29, 1981; a third filmization of the Steinbeck work, starring Gary Sinise and John Malkovich, was released theatrically in 1993.