John Steinbeck was a Stanford man who could have taken the easy way out by finishing his degree, making a lot of money and ignoring the decaying human condition all around him. Instead, he penned two epic works portraying the Okie migration to California during the massive “dust bowl” crop failures of the 1930s: In Dubious Battle and The Grapes Of Wrath.
Written between those two in 1937, Of Mice And Men is a smaller story about a pair of depression-era drifters. Lennie is “a few bricks short of a full load,” as they described it in those times. Short and wiry, George is the brains of the outfit, constantly getting his oversized companion out of scrapes with the law. As the movie version of the book begins, the two are running full-tilt through an apricot orchard near Weed, Calif., chased by a dozen angry men toting shotguns. George (Burgess Meredith) and Lennie (Lon Chaney, Jr.) leap into an irrigation canal and hug the near bank, overgrown with skunk cabbage.
Via Heather Bailie