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The Green Mile

The Green Mile is a 1999 movie, directed by Frank Darabont, based on the Stephen King novel The Green Mile (book). The film stars Tom Hanks as Paul Edgecomb and Michael Clarke Duncan as John Coffey. more...

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The movie is primarily about Paul Edgecomb and his life as a prison guard on Death Row in the 1930's. The movie is told in flashback by Paul Edgecomb in a nursing home and follows a string of supernatural and metaphysical events upon the arrival of tried and convicted murderer John Coffey.

In the 2000 Academy Awards the movie was nominated for four awards (Best Actor In A Supporting Role, Best Picture, Best Sound, Best Writing, Screenplay Based On Material Previously Produced or Published) but won none of them.

Plot Summary

The Green Mile is a story told in "flashback" by an elderly Paul Edgecomb in a nursing home. He tells a friend about the summer of 1935 when he was a prison guard in charge of death row inmates. His domain was called "The Green Mile" because the linoleum floor was green. The star of the cellblock was "Old Sparky", the electric chair, sitting peacefully, waiting for its next victim.

One day, a new inmate arrives. He is seven-foot-tall John Coffey, a black man (wrongly) convicted of raping and killing two young white girls. Coffey immediately shows himself to be a "gentle giant", keeping to himself and being moved to tears on occasion. Soon enough, Coffey reveals his extraordinary healing powers by healing Paul Edgecomb's urinary infection and bringing a mouse back from the dead. Later, he would heal the terminally ill wife of the warden.

At the same time, Percy Wetmore, a vicious, sadistic guard who takes pleasure in intimidating and injuring inmates, exasperates everyone else in the cellblock. However, he "knows people in high places" (supposedly he was the nephew of the governor), preventing Paul or anybody else from doing anything significant to curb his deviant behavior. What Percy wants is to be put "up front" for (i.e., in charge of) an execution; then, he promises, he will transfer himself to another government job and Paul will never hear from him again.

Notwithstanding Coffey's incredible abilities and the wrongness of his conviction, he ends up being executed, due in large part to geographically-based racial overtones (the movie was set in the American South, during a period of racial segregation). Edgecomb thereafter transfers from death row to another prison. His "fate" for not stopping Coffey's execution was that he would outlive all his relatives and friends, as he puts it, he would have to walk his own "green mile".

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  • Originally set in 1932, the timeframe was bumped up to 1935 so the 1935 film Top Hat could be featured.
  • The prison guards wear uniforms to give the movie a better feel, even though uniforms weren't in use at the time in which the movie is set.
  • The music played over the loudspeakers in the retirement home as Old Paul Edgecomb first walks out of his room is the same as the music the nurses played at medication time in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975).
  • Originally, Tom Hanks was going to play the Old Paul Edgecomb but the makeup tests didn't make him look credible enough to be an elderly man. Dabbs Greer was cast instead as the older Paul Edgecomb.
  • By the time Paul introduced Elaine to Mr. Jingles, the mouse would have to be at least 64 years old - over nine times the age of the oldest ever known real mouse. It is however inferred in the book that this longevity is a side effect of John Coffey's resurrection of the mouse earlier in the story.
  • While many of Stephen King's novels are set in the author's native Maine, The Green Mile takes place in Louisiana. However, the surname of the main character--Edgecomb--is the name of a town on Maine's mid-coast.
  • The electric chair featured in the film was built from the original designs of an electric chair named "Old Sparky" which is part of the museum/tour of the Moundsville State Penitentiary in West Virginia. The prison was one of the finalists for the final shooting location. "Old Sparky" has been a common nickname for the electric chair in a number of states that used the device.
  • The plot unfolds in the form of Paul telling Elaine the story of the Green Mile. In the book, Paul writes his story down in the form of a novel. At the end of the film, as Paul leaves the cemetery after Elaine's burial, a tombstone can be seen behind him that reads "Greene", and two others, one in the foreground and one to the right of the screen, that read "Story".


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