Of Mice and Men: A Play in Three Acts
Hard Cover. New York: Covici Friede, 1937. First Edition. Very Good.
[1937-39]. One multi-signed playbook (Of Mice and Men: A Play in Three Acts) and two original annotated scripts (first theatrical and film adaptations) previously owned by Of Mice and Men stage manager (play) and dialogue coach (film), Frank Coletti. 1) Steinbeck, John. Of Mice and Men: A Play in Three Acts. New York: Covici Friede, 1937. First edition, first printing; in first issue dust jacket with $2.00 price. Inscribed by John Steinbeck to Frank Coletti on a label affixed to front free endpaper; additionally signed by entire cast on "List of Characters" page, including Wallace Ford and Oscar-winner Broderick Crawford (All The King's Men), plus John F. Hamilton, Jim Robertson, and another indecipherable signature. Publisher's original beige cloth, titled in black and brown; in its original blue, beige, and white dust jacket. Very good, with spine lightly toned, some offsetting to endpapers, light creasing to pp. 125 - 128; good + unclipped dust jacket, with some toning to spine, some chipping to spine ends affecting "S" of Steinbeck and most of Friede), tear along front spine joint with a chip near middle, corners chipped, a few small chips to flap hinges, two small closed tears to bottom of rear panel, and a small spot of soiling to top of front panel. Overall, a solid copy with bright signatures. 2) Steinbeck, John. Of Mice and Men. 1937 Broadway production script. First edition. Original brown wrappers, Rialto Service Bureau sticker to top of front wrapper, "Of Mice and Men Sound Effects By C. J. Straight" in faded red marker to front wrapper, script bound by three metal clips, brown endpapers, "From Sam H. Harris Music Box Theater" stamped to front wrapper and front free endpaper, semi-translucent white pages. Good plus, with light staining to wrappers, a number of creases and short closed tears to wrapper edges, some rubbing to wrappers, front free endpaper detached but present, closed tear to top of first page of Act I, and some staining, creasing and soiling throughout script. Overall, a working copy of the original script. 3) Solow, Eugene. Steinbeck, John. Of Mice and Men. 1939 film script. First edition. Script numbered "74" to front wrapper. Ownership inscription by Coletti in pencil on front cover: "Frank Coletti / 1950 n. Argyle / Hollywood." Original brown paper front cover, white and blue three-holed pages, script bound by two metal clips (top and bottom holes), printed in black; very good, with front cover only held by bottom clip, some staining to front cover, shallow chipping to edges of front cover, some light toning and creasing to pages, and a tape repair to last page. Overall, a working copy with fascinating annotations. One of John Steinbeck's finest and most enduring achievements, Of Mice and Men (1937) tells the tragic story of George and Lennie, an unlikely pair of friends who find work at a farm during the Great Depression. The book's title, taken from Robert Burns' poem "To a Mouse," reflects the doomed dreams of the protagonists. As a result of its controversial social commentaries, Of Mice and Men has been historically subject to censorship and remains on the American Library Association's list of "Most Challenged Books of the 21st Century." Written by Steinbeck with an eye to the stage (in a letter Steinbeck calls it "a kind of playable novel, written in novel form but so scened and set that it can be played as it stands"), the book was adapted into a play the very year that it was published, staged by musical theater luminary George S. Kaufman. The play was performed at the Music Box Theatre and ran from November 23, 1937 to May 21, 1938. In 1939, the work was adapted into a critically acclaimed film directed by Lewis Milestone, starring Burgess Meredith and Lon Chaney Jr. This small archive consists of three different copies of Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men that were owned by Frank Coletti. Coletti worked as the stage manager for the 1937 theatrical production of the book and the dialogue coach for the 1939 film version. In addition to Of Mice and Men, he worked as a stage manager for Broadway productions of Music in the Air (November 1932 - September 1933), One Touch of Venus (October1943 - February 1945), and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (December 1949 - September 1951), among many others. The two scripts in this collection provide wonderful insight into the process of adapting the work to both the stage and the screen and are an important part of the history of the masterpiece that is Of Mice and Men. Both the play and film scripts were working copies, and are heavily annotated. The play script contains sound effects-related annotations, presumably made by C. J. Straight who developed the show's sound effects, among others likely made by Coletti. A few examples: the first page of Act I with "At - Rise - Pause / 3 - Quail Call / Whippowill (sic) / 1 - Dog - Distant", and at the beginning of Act III with "Horse Snort". Other annotations include timestamps, crossed out lines, and minor edits to the text. The film script contains an abundance of annotations made by Coletti, illustrating his important and multi-faceted role in its production. The annotations include crossed out lines, edits to dialogue, notes on whether sections of dialogue are shot at "studio" or "ranch," camera directions ("camera out window" and "pull back" on p. 85), and stage directions ("circles to L of Lennie" next to George dialogue on p. 16). Nearly every page is marked with vertical and horizontal pencil lines, presumably for organizational purposes. On p. 26, in an important scene in which George recites to Lennie an oft-repeated speech about the brightness of their futures, Coletti wrote "(Lennie) / (masticates) / (slower and slower) / (drinks in every word)" in the margin. On the final page of dialogue (p. 173), at the story's dramatic conclusion, Coletti marked the script extensively with cross-outs and edits to the dialogue.