The Green Mile |


Tom Hanks, David Morse, ...

''MILE'' STONE Hanks and Morse do time as 1930s prison guards (Ralph Nelson)

Consider this part 3 of our ongoing, six-part series on ”The Green Mile,” Castle Rock’s adaptation of Stephen King’s 1996 six-part best-selling novel. When we checked in last month, all eyes were on King, who was recuperating from serious injuries, including a punctured lung, suffered from being hit by a car. (He’s still mostly bedridden, but you won’t be surprised to hear, dear reader, that the author of steel is already working on another book.)

More recently, Castle Rock has come under scrutiny. With a string of flops like ”My Giant” and ”The Last Days of Disco,” this division of Time Warner (parent company of EW) has been something of a sinking stone in the movie business. That may be changing. For one, the head of Castle Rock, Alan Horn, has just been named president and COO of Warner Bros. (Barry Meyer will be chairman and CEO), and that gives his old division a very powerful ally.

Having a Tom Hanks movie at Christmas should help – though despite Hanks and built-in awareness because of King’s novel, ”Green Mile” doesn’t sound like a blockbuster. ”The vast majority of this movie takes place in 100 square feet and it was just like being in prison,” Hanks says of the production. ”We were in the same place every day. We came into this cellblock and we were there into the night.” This grown-up drama concerned with capital punishment and mysticism (set in the 1930s with Hanks as a death-row prison guard and Duncan as a seven-foot-tall black inmate condemned for murdering two white girls) is arriving at a time when gimmicky horror flicks and teen high jinks seem to rule.

In ”Green Mile”’s favor: Darabont’s last Castle Rock picture, 1994’s ”The Shawshank Redemption” (another dialogue-heavy King adaptation about prison), was nominated for seven Academy Awards and, according to Internet Movie Database’s regularly updated survey of moviegoers, consistently ranks with ”The Godfather” and ”Citizen Kane” among the most popular films. ”I have to sit down every time I hear that,” says Darabont. Actually, it’s time to stand and deliver. BUZZ FACTOR: 9

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