The Green Mile is a long and emotional road. After the Oscar nominated success of The Shawshank Redemption, Stephen King wrote The Green Mile. Both stories are set in prison while dealing with intense themes and an interracial friendship. Frank Darabont wrote and directed both films, but they couldn’t be more different. I’ve been wanting to see The Green Mile for years, despite how depressing it was. The Green Mile is a realistic depiction of death row with supernatural elements. Though not quite the same as fellow 1999 Best Picture nominee The Sixth Sense. The Green Mile is over 3 hours long, but it was the only way to understand every inmate and prison guard. Tom Hanks gets very prominent top-billing as Warden Supervisor Paul Edgecomb. The movie is from his perspective as an elderly Paul (played by Dabbs Greer in his final film role) talks about being a warden in the Great Depression.
Paul does his job effectively, but he suffers from a severe bladder infection since Tom Hanks can’t make a movie without peeing. Paul is joined by several supportive guards including David Morse as second-in-command Brutal. The cast is especially impressive with small roles for Harry Dean Stanton, Bonnie Hunt, and Gary Sinise in his third and final role alongside Hanks. Jeffrey DeMunn and William Sadler are the only actors who also appeared in The Shawshank Redemption. James Cromwell plays the head warden who oversees the process. Everything you never wanted to know about the electric chair is explained in graphic detail. Like most Stephen King antagonists, Doug Hutchison plays one of the most hateable movie villains of all time. Percy is a sniveling prison guard who gleefully torments the inmates in their final hours. Most of the inmates are infinitely more sympathetic than he is.
Graham Greene briefly appears as Native American inmate Arlen who sets the executions into motion. Michael Jeter is the friendly Cajun inmate Del known for his bond with prison mouse Mr. Jingles. Mr. Jingles is an iconic trained mouse who adds much needed levity to the depressing film. The only irredeemably evil inmate is Wild Bill played by a scene stealing Sam Rockwell in his breakout year. But The Green Mile truly belongs to the late great Michael Clarke Duncan. The 6ft. 8in. John Coffey is the very definition of gentle giant. Forced perspective made Duncan massive, but his genuinely kind-hearted acting should’ve won Best Supporting Actor. Coffey remains in the background until he displays his miraculous power to heal others. He manages to heal Paul and the warden’s terminally ill wife played by a very appreciative Patricia Clarkson. Though it’s clear Coffey didn’t commit the awful crime he was convicted of, he’s simply tired of living in such an ugly world. I couldn’t stop crying from Coffey’s powerful speech and first viewing of Top Hat to his inevitable execution. The Green Mile is a genuine milestone.