The Green Mile (1999)


The Green Mile (1999)

Death Row guards at a penitentiary, in the 1930's, have a moral dilemma with their job when they discover one of their prisoners, a convicted murderer, has a special gift.
IMDb   8.6 /10
Metacritic   61 %
TheMovieDb    8.5 /10
FilmAffinity   7.9 /10
Release Date1999-12-10
Runtime3h 9mins
GenreCrime, Drama, Fantasy, Mystery
Content RatingR (R)
AwardsTop Rated Movies #27 | Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 15 wins & 33 nominations.
CompanyCastle Rock Entertainment, Darkwoods Productions, Warner Bros.
LanguageEnglish, French
Paul Edgecomb
Brutus 'Brutal' Howell
Jan Edgecomb
Warden Hal Moores
Eduard Delacroix
Arlen Bitterbuck
Percy Wetmore
'Wild Bill' Wharton
Dean Stanton
Harry Terwilliger
Old Paul Edgecomb
Elaine Connelly

The Green Mile (film)

The Green Mile is a 1999 American fantasy drama film written and directed by Frank Darabont and based on Stephen King's 1996 novel of the same name. It stars Tom Hanks as a death row prison guard during the Great Depression who witnesses supernatural events following the arrival of an enigmatic convict (Michael Clarke Duncan) at his facility. David Morse, Bonnie Hunt, Doug Hutchison and James Cromwell appear in supporting roles.

The film premiered on December 10, 1999, in the United States to positive reviews from critics, who praised its visual style and performances, although its length received criticism. It was a commercial success, grossing $286 million from its $60 million budget, and was nominated for four Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor for Duncan, Best Sound and Best Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published.


At a Louisiana assisted-living home, elderly retiree Paul Edgecomb becomes emotional while viewing the film Top Hat. His companion Elaine becomes concerned, and Paul explains to her that the film reminded him of events that he witnessed in 1935 when he was an officer at Cold Mountain Penitentiary's death row, nicknamed "The Green Mile".

In 1935, Paul supervises Corrections Officers Brutus Howell, Dean Stanton, Harry Terwilliger, and Percy Wetmore, reporting to chief warden Hal Moores. Paul is introduced to John Coffey, a physically imposing but mild-mannered black man, who has been sentenced to death after being convicted of raping and murdering two little white girls. He joins two other condemned convicts on the block: Eduard "Del" Delacroix and Arlen Bitterbuck, the latter of whom is the first to be executed. Percy, the nephew of the state governor's wife, demonstrates a sadistic streak but flaunts his family connections to avoid being held accountable; he is particularly abusive towards Del, breaking his fingers and killing his pet mouse Mr. Jingles.

After John seemingly heals Paul's severe bladder infection by touching him, and later apparently resurrects Mr. Jingles, Paul gradually realizes that John possesses a supernatural ability to heal others. Suspecting that John is endowed with the power to perform divine miracles, Paul begins to doubt whether he is truly guilty of his crimes. Meanwhile, the officers are forced to deal with new psychotic convict "Wild Bill" Wharton, who frequently causes trouble by assaulting the officers and racially abusing John, forcing them to restrain him in the block's padded cell on more than one occasion.

In exchange for resigning from the penitentiary and accepting a job at an insane asylum, Percy is allowed to oversee Del's execution. At the execution, Percy deliberately avoids soaking the sponge used to conduct electricity to Del's head, leading to Del suffering a gruesome and agonizing death, with John forced to feel Del's pain as well. As punishment for his actions, Paul and the other officers bind and gag Percy and force him to spend a night in the padded cell. While Percy is locked away, they secretly smuggle John out of the prison so that he can use his powers to heal Warden Moores's wife, Melinda, of a brain tumor, saving her life. Percy is later released with a warning that if he continues with his spoiled, antagonistic attitude, the others will report him for his various acts of misconduct.

Later, John uses his powers to "release" Melinda's affliction into Percy's brain, causing him to go silent and shoot Wharton dead. Shortly after, John reveals to Paul that Wharton was the true culprit of the crimes for which he was wrongfully condemned, releasing his supernatural energy into Paul in the process. Having apparently suffered a mental breakdown, the still silent Percy is committed to the same insane asylum where he had planned to work after resigning from the prison.

Finally realizing that John is innocent, Paul is distraught at the thought of executing him and offers to let him go free. John, likewise distraught at the fact he will be executed despite his innocence, tells Paul that he is now ready to die; as he views the world as a cruel place, and is in constant pain from the suffering people inflict upon each other. Mentioning that he has never seen a movie before, John watches Top Hat with the other officers as a last request. When executed later that night, he asks not to have a hood placed over his head, as he is afraid of the dark. The officers all watch in sadness as Coffey is executed. Back in the present, Paul tells Elaine that John's was the last execution that he and Brutus witnessed, as they both subsequently resigned from the prison and took jobs in the juvenile system.

Concluding his story, Paul reveals that Del's mouse Mr. Jingles is still alive, having been blessed with a supernaturally long life thanks to John's healing touch. He also reveals that he himself is now 108 years old; he was forty-four years old at the time of John's execution. While Elaine sees Paul's long life as another of John's miracles, Paul speculates that it may be a divine punishment and that he has been condemned to linger on Earth and outlive all of his loved ones for the crime of allowing an innocent man chosen by God to perform miracles to die. Paul is later shown attending Elaine's funeral and muses on how much longer he has left to live.


  • Tom Hanks as Paul Edgecomb Dabbs Greer as old Paul
  • Dabbs Greer as old Paul
  • David Morse as Brutus "Brutal" Howell
  • Bonnie Hunt as Jan Edgecomb
  • Michael Clarke Duncan as John Coffey
  • James Cromwell as Hal Moores
  • Michael Jeter as Eduard Delacroix
  • Graham Greene as Arlen Bitterbuck
  • Doug Hutchison as Percy Wetmore
  • Sam Rockwell as William "Wild Bill" Wharton
  • Barry Pepper as Dean Stanton
  • Jeffrey DeMunn as Harry Terwilliger
  • Patricia Clarkson as Melinda Moores
  • Harry Dean Stanton as Toot-Toot
  • Bill McKinney as Jack Van Hay
  • Brent Briscoe as Bill Dodge
  • Eve Brent as Elaine Connelly
  • William Sadler as Klaus Detterick
  • Paula Malcomson as Marjorie Detterick
  • Evanne and Bailey Drucker as Kathy and Cora Detterick
  • Gary Sinise as Burt Hammersmith


Darabont adapted Stephen King's novel, The Green Mile, into a screenplay in under eight weeks.

The film was shot at Warner Hollywood Studios, West Hollywood, California, and on location in Shelbyville, Tennessee, Blowing Rock, North Carolina and the old Tennessee State Prison. The interior sets were custom built by production designer Terence Marsh. "We tried to give our set a sense of space. A sense of history. And a sense of mystery, in a way. We chose the elongated cathedral-like windows because there is a very mystical element in this movie, a supernatural element It presented us with lots of opportunities", he said. The electric chair was also a bespoke design, and was inspired by real prisons which have the device.


Hanks and Darabont met at an Academy Award luncheon in 1994. Stephen King stated he envisioned Hanks in the role and was happy when Darabont mentioned his name. Hanks was originally supposed to play elderly Paul Edgecomb as well, but the makeup tests did not make him look credible enough to be an elderly man. Because of this Greer was hired to play the older Edgecomb. John Travolta was offered the role of Paul Edgecomb but turned it down.

Duncan credited his casting to Bruce Willis, with whom he had worked on the film Armageddon one year earlier. According to Duncan, Willis introduced him to Darabont after hearing of the open call for John Coffey. Basketball player Shaquille O'Neal was considered for the role of John Coffey. Josh Brolin was considered for the role of William "Wild Bill" Wharton.

Morse had not heard about the script until he was offered the role. He stated he was in tears by the end of it. Darabont wanted Cromwell from the start, and after he read the script, Cromwell was moved and agreed.


The official film soundtrack, Music from the Motion Picture The Green Mile, was released on December 19, 1999 by Warner Bros. It contains 37 tracks, primarily instrumental tracks from the film score by Thomas Newman. It also contains four vocal tracks: "Cheek to Cheek" by Fred Astaire, "I Can't Give You Anything but Love, Baby" by Billie Holiday, "Did You Ever See a Dream Walking?" by Gene Austin, and "Charmaine" by Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians.


Box office

In the United States, The Green Mile opened on December 10, 1999, and grossed $136.8 million in the U.S. and Canada and $150 million in other territories, bringing a worldwide total of $286.8 million, against its production budget of $60 million. It was the second highest-grosser in Japan for the year with a gross of $55.3 million.

Home media

The film was released on VHS and DVD on June 13, 2000. The film earned $17.45 million in combined DVD and VHS rental revenue by June 18, 2000.

Critical response

On Rotten Tomatoes the film holds an approval rating of 78% based on 134 reviews, with an average rating of 6.83/10. The website's critics consensus states, "Though The Green Mile is long, critics say it's an absorbing, emotionally powerful experience." At Metacritic the film has a weighted average score of 61 out of 100, based on 36 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale.

Film critic Roger Ebert gave the film 3+1⁄2 out of 4 stars, writing, "The film is a shade over three hours long. I appreciated the extra time, which allows us to feel the passage of prison months and years ... it tells a story with beginning, middle, end, vivid characters, humor, outrage and emotional release". Writing for Entertainment Weekly, Lisa Schwarzbaum also took note of the film's length, but praised Tom Hanks' "superior" performance and Darabont's direction. "Darabont's style of picture making is well matched to King-size yarn spinning. The director isn't afraid to let big emotions and grand gestures linger", she said. San Francisco Chronicle's Edward Guthmann thought the cinematography was "handsome", and the music was "florid and melodramatic". He added, "Darabont is such a committed filmmaker, and believes so earnestly and intensely in the stories he puts onscreen". Desson Thomson of The Washington Post called the storytelling "brilliant", and said "From its deceptively easygoing beginning to the heart-wrenching finale, The Green Mile keeps you wonderfully high above the cynical ground."

However, some critics had a less positive response. Kirk Honeycutt of The Hollywood Reporter opined, "By inflating the simple story with a languorous pace, pregnant pauses, long reaction shots and an infinitely slow metabolism, Darabont has burdened his movie version with more self-importance than it can possibly sustain." Whilst complimenting the production design and soundtrack, the critic from Timeout magazine thought some scenes were tiresome and the film "suffers from a surfeit of plot threads and characters". Writing for the BBC, Clark Collis took issue with some of the plot's unrealistic elements and thought the film was too long. David Ansen of Newsweek thought The Green Mile was weaker than Darabont's previous film, The Shawshank Redemption (1994). He stated, The Green Mile is a "lumbering, self-important three-hour melodrama that defies credibility at every turn".


Academy AwardsBest PictureDavid Valdes and Frank DarabontNominated
Best Actor in a Supporting RoleMichael Clarke DuncanNominated
Best Adapted ScreenplayFrank DarabontNominated
Best SoundRobert J. Litt, Elliot Tyson,
Michael Herbick and Willie D. Burton
Black Reel AwardsBest Supporting ActorMichael Clarke DuncanWon
Blockbuster Entertainment AwardsFavorite Actor – DramaTom HanksWon
Favorite Supporting Actor – DramaMichael Clarke DuncanNominated
Favorite Supporting Actress – DramaBonnie HuntNominated
BMI Film & TV AwardsFilm Music AwardThomas NewmanWon
Bram Stoker AwardsBest ScreenplayFrank DarabontNominated
Broadcast Film Critics Association AwardsBest FilmThe Green MileNominated
Best Screenplay, AdaptationFrank DarabontWon
Best Supporting ActorMichael Clarke DuncanWon
Chicago Film Critics AssociationBest Supporting ActorNominated
Most Promising ActorNominated
Directors Guild of America AwardsOutstanding Directorial AchievementFrank DarabontNominated
Golden Globe AwardsBest Supporting Actor – Motion PictureMichael Clarke DuncanNominated
Golden Satellite AwardsBest Supporting Actor – Motion PictureDoug HutchisonNominated
NAACP Image AwardsOutstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion PictureMichael Clarke DuncanNominated
MTV Movie AwardsBest Breakthrough Male PerformanceNominated
Motion Picture Sound Editors
(Golden Reel Awards)
Best Sound Editing – Dialogue and ADRMark A. Mangini, Julia EvershadeNominated
Best Sound Editing – Effects and FoleyMark A. Mangini, Aaron Glascock, Howell Gibbens,
David E. Stone, Solange S. Schwalbe
People's Choice AwardsFavorite All-Around Motion PictureThe Green MileWon
Favorite Dramatic Motion PictureWon
Saturn AwardsBest Action/Adventure/Thriller FilmWon
Best DirectorFrank DarabontNominated
Best Supporting ActorMichael Clarke DuncanWon
Best Supporting ActressPatricia ClarksonWon
Best MusicThomas NewmanNominated
Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America
(Nebula Award)
Best ScriptFrank DarabontNominated
Screen Actors Guild AwardsOutstanding Performance by a Male Actor
in a Leading Role
Michael Clarke DuncanNominated
Outstanding Performance by a Cast
in a Motion Picture
The Green MileNominated