Open main menu

The Green Mile is a 1999 American fantasy crime drama film written and directed by Frank Darabont and adapted from Stephen King’s 1996 novel of the same name.

The Green Mile
The words Tom Hanks, a prison guard looking to the distance, below the words The Green Mile, in the middle of the words, a small silhouette of a big man and small man walking towards a light.
Theatrical release poster by Drew Struzan
Directed byFrank Darabont
Produced by
Screenplay byFrank Darabont
Based onThe Green Mile
by Stephen King
Music byThomas Newman
CinematographyDavid Tattersall
Edited byRichard Francis-Bruce
Distributed byWarner Bros.
Release date
  • December 10, 1999 (1999-12-10) (United States)
Running time
189 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$60 million[2]
Box office$290.7 million[2]

The film stars Tom Hanks as Paul Edgecomb and Michael Clarke Duncan as John Coffey, with supporting roles by David Morse, Bonnie Hunt, and James Cromwell. The film also features Dabbs Greer in his final film, as the older Paul Edgecomb. The film, told in a flashback format, tells the story of Paul's life as a death row corrections officer during the U.S. Great Depression, and the supernatural events he witnessed there.

The film received positive reviews from critics, and was nominated for four Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor for Michael Clarke Duncan, Best Sound, and Best Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published.



In a Louisiana assisted-living home in 1999, the elderly Paul Edgecomb begins to cry while watching the 1930s film Top Hat. His companion Elaine becomes concerned, and Paul explains to her that the film reminded him of events in 1935, which took place during the Great Depression when he was a prison officer, in charge of death row, which they refer to as the "Green Mile".

In 1935, Paul supervises officers Howell, Stanton, Terwilliger, and Wetmore at Cold Mountain Penitentiary. Paul is suffering from a severe bladder infection and receives into his custody John Coffey, a physically imposing but mentally challenged and gentle black man. John has been sentenced to death after being convicted of raping and murdering two white girls. Wetmore demonstrates a severe sadistic streak, but gets away with it because he is the governor's wife's nephew. He is particularly abusive with inmate Eduard Delacroix (Del); he breaks Del's fingers with his baton, steps on a Del's adopted pet mouse Mr. Jingles, repeatedly calls him by a gay slur, and ultimately sabotages his execution by deliberately not soaking the sponge used to conduct electricity to Del's head. As a result, Del suffers a longer and more painful death by burning alive.

John begins to demonstrate supernatural powers; he cures Paul's bladder infection, resurrects Mr. Jingles, and heals a dying Melinda Moores, wife of the prison's warden, of a brain tumor. He later releases this affliction into Wetmore, who under its influence shoots dead another prisoner, mass murderer William "Wild Bill" Wharton. Wharton had been a troublemaker ever since his arrival, having assaulted guards while being escorted into the block, made mischief on two occasions which caused Paul to order him into the block's padded cell, groped Wetmore, made a racist remark in John's presence, and revealed psychically to John that he had raped and murdered the two white girls. John was arrested for Wharton's crime as he had been at the scene unsuccessfully trying to resurrect the two white children with his powers. John then reveals the story psychically to Paul, who is also given a snippet of his supernatural energy. Meanwhile, Wetmore is committed to an insane asylum after entering a vegetative state.

Paul discusses with John the possibility of an unlikely long term escape, as he does not wish to execute what he perceives is a miracle of God. Although distraught over the notion of being executed while innocent, John tells Paul that he has been through enough psychical experience with humanity’s cruelty. Mentioning that he had never seen a movie before, John watches Top Hat with the other guards as a last request. When John is executed that night, he asks that the customary hood not be placed over his head, as he is afraid of the dark. Paul concludes his story by telling Elaine that John's was the last execution that he and Howell supervised. Following Coffey's execution, they both left the penitentiary and took jobs in the juvenile system.

Elaine realizes that, since he had a grown son in 1935, Paul must be much older than he looks. Paul reveals that he is, in fact, 108 years old; he was 44 when John walked the Green Mile. Del's pet mouse, Mr. Jingles, is also still alive. Paul continues to explain that although John never intended for it to happen, his curing of Paul has given him an extraordinary lifespan, which he actually perceives as punishment from God for executing John, causing him to outlive his family and friends, as he will also outlive Elaine. Paul later attends her funeral and muses that if John's power could make a mouse live for six decades as Mr. Jingles has, his own life might extend even longer.



Darabont adapted the novel into a screenplay in under eight weeks.[3]

The film was shot at Warner Hollywood Studios, West Hollywood, California, and on location in Shelbyville, Tennessee and Blowing Rock, North Carolina.[4]


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.[3] 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.[5] Because of this Greer was hired to play the older Edgecomb.

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.[6] Basketball player Shaquille O’Neal was considered for the role of John Coffey.[citation needed]

Morse had not heard about the script until he was offered the role. He stated he was in tears by the end of it.[3] Darabont wanted Cromwell from the start, and after he read the script, Cromwell was moved and agreed.[3]


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.


Critical responseEdit

Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film an approval rating of 79% based on 132 reviews, with an average rating of 6.9/10. The critical consensus states "Though The Green Mile is long, critics say it's an absorbing, emotionally powerful experience."[7] The film also has a score of 61 out of 100 on Metacritic based on 36 critics indicating "generally favorable reviews".[8]

Roger Ebert gave the film ​3 12 stars out of 4, 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."[9] Forbes commentator Dawn Mendez referred to the character of John Coffey as a "'magic Negro' figure"—a term describing a stereotypical fictional black person depicted in a fictional work as a "saintly, nonthreatening" person whose purpose in life is to solve a problem for or otherwise further the happiness of a white person.[10]

Awards and honorsEdit

2000 Academy Awards[11][12]

2000 Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films

2000 Broadcast Music Incorporated Film & TV Awards

2000 Black Reel Awards

  • Won – Theatrical – Best Supporting Actor – Michael Clarke Duncan

2000 Blockbuster Entertainment Awards

  • Won – Favorite Actor – Drama – Tom Hanks
  • Nominated – Favorite Supporting Actor – Drama – Michael Clarke Duncan
  • Nominated – Favorite Supporting Actress – Drama – Bonnie Hunt

2000 Bram Stoker Awards

2000 Broadcast Film Chitics Association Awards

1999 Chicago Film Critics Association Awards

  • Nominated – Best Supporting Actor – Michael Clarke Duncan
  • Nominated – Most Promising Actor – Michael Clarke Duncan

2000 Directors Guild of America

  • Nominated – Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures – Frank Darabont

2000 Golden Globe Awards

2000 NAACP Image Awards

2000 MTV Movie Awards

2000 Motion Picture Sound Editors (Golden Reel Awards)

  • Nominated – Best Sound Editing – Dialogue and ADR – Mark A. Mangini, Julia Evershade
  • Nominated – Best Sound Editing – Effects and Foley – Mark A. Mangini, Aaron Glascock, Howell Gibbens, David E. Stone, Solange S. Schwalbe

2000 People's Choice Awards

  • Won – Favorite All-Around Motion Picture
  • Won – Favorite Dramatic Motion Picture

2001 Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (Nebula Award)

  • Nominated – Best Script – Frank Darabont

2000 Screen Actors Guild Awards

  • Nominated – Outstanding Performance by a Cast
  • Nominated – Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role – Michael Clarke Duncan

4th Golden Satellite Awards

  • Nominated — Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture — Doug Hutchison


  1. ^ "The Green Mile (1999)". IMDb. Retrieved January 12, 2016.
  2. ^ a b Box Office Information for The Green Mile. The Numbers. Retrieved September 12, 2012.
  3. ^ a b c d "About the Film". Archived from the original on November 8, 2011. Retrieved November 1, 2011.
  4. ^ Darabont, Frank (Director) (December 10, 1999). The Green Mile (Motion picture). United States: Warner Bros.
  5. ^ "15 Things You Might Not Know About The Green Mile". May 14, 2015. Retrieved January 27, 2019.
  6. ^ Doty, Meriah (September 4, 2012). "Bruce Willis helped Michael Clarke Duncan get his Oscar caliber role". Yahoo! Movies.
  7. ^ "The Green Mile (1999)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved September 22, 2014.
  8. ^ "The Green Mile Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved September 25, 2015.
  9. ^ "The Green Mile". Roger Ebert dot com. December 10, 1999.
  10. ^ Mendez, Dawn (January 23, 2009). "The 'Magic Negro'". Forbes. Retrieved October 26, 2009.
  11. ^ "The 72nd Academy Awards (2000) Nominees and Winners". Retrieved November 19, 2011.
  12. ^ Lyman, Rick (March 28, 2000). "Oscar Victory Finally Lifts the Cloud for DreamWorks". The New York Times. Retrieved November 4, 2011.

External linksEdit