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Green Mile, The (1999, Tom Hanks, Michael Clarke Duncan)

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After The Shawshank Redemption, director Frank Darabont stayed ‘inside’ for the Oscar-nominated The Green Mile, set in Death Row of a ’30s Louisiana penitentiary. Taken from the book written by Stephen King and famous for being issued in episodic segments, the title refers to the strip of lino leading from the condemned cell to the room holding the electric chair. Death Row is presided over by Paul Edgecomb (Tom Hanks), who believes in the quiet life for himself, colleagues and charges.

The poison in the pot comes from Percy Wetmore (Doug Hutchison), a relative of the governor who just wants to see a man electrocuted, but the real change comes in the shape of gentle man mountain John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan), convicted of the brutal murder of two little girls. But Coffey has a special skill – he can heal, ‘take things back’, as he calls it, and he cures both Paul’s infection and the warden wife’s cancer. But as Percy and crazed prisoner Wild Bill Wharton (Sam Rockwell) upset the peace of The Green Mile, Paul begins to wonder just who it is he will be executing…

Nearly three hours in the telling, Darabont uses the luxury of length to establish then expand both the characters and the plot, gently showing how Coffey’s gift is spiritual rather than supernatural. Outstanding performances from Hanks and Oscar-nominated Gardner underpin the film but the whole cast breathe life into their characters in a satisfying, almost Dickensian manner.

production details
USA | 189 minutes | 1999

Director: Frank Darabont
Writer: Frank Darabont from Stephen King’s novel

cast
Patricia Clarkson as Melinda Moores
Ted Hollis as Coffee Execution Witness (uncredited)
Michael Clarke Duncan as John Coffey
Dabbs Greer as Old Paul Edgecomb
Harry Dean Stanton as Toot-Toot
William Sadler as Klaus Detterick
Brian Libby as Sheriff McGee
Bonnie Hunt as Jan Edgecomb
Mack Miles as Orderly Hector
Brent Briscoe as Bill Dodge
James Cromwell as Warden Hal Moores
Michael Jeter as Eduard Delacroix
Paula Malcomson as Marjorie Detterick
Tom Hanks as Paul Edgecomb
David Morse as Brutus “Brutal” Howell
Sam Rockwell as ‘Wild Bill’ Wharton
Graham Greene as Arlen Bitterbuck
Doug Hutchison as Percy Wetmore
Barry Pepper as Dean Stanton
Jeffrey DeMunn as Harry Terwilliger
Gary Sinise as Lawyer Burt Hammersmith
Eve Brent as Elaine Connelly
Rai Tasco as Man in Nursing Home
Bill McKinney as Jack Van Hay
Rachel Singer as Cynthia Hammersmith
Scotty Leavenworth as Hammersmith’s Son
Bill Gratton as Earl the Plumber
Dee Croxton as Woman at Del’s Execution
Rebecca Klingler as Wife at Del’s Execution
Gary Imhoff as Husband at Del’s Execution
Van Epperson as Police Officer
Phil Hawn as Police Photographer (uncredited)
Robert Malone as Tower Guard (uncredited)