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on July 9, 2015
I had seen this movie on TV and loved it so much I wanted to have my own copy. Henry Fonda's portrayal of the young Abraham Lincoln as an untested lawyer was outstanding. Lincoln's defense of two young country boys who are falsely accused of murder touches your heart. His sensitivity and kindness to their family will bring tears to your eyes. Henry Fonda's portrayal of Lincoln, visually and in character, makes our great emancipator touchable. He certainly was one of our greatest Presidents and statesman, deserving of being highly revered. But because of that sometimes you feel like he doesn't seem real or human. But in this great movie, directed by John Ford, he is real and human. You get a feeling of the great character that he possessed that made him such a great man. In fact, you can relate to him so well in the movie that you wish you could have known him and been his friend. I highly recommend this movie.
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Quite an enjoyable movie. Directed by John Ford (one of three fine movies from him that year--along with "Stagecoach" and "Drums along the Mohawk"), starring Henry Fonda as Young Mr. Lincoln (and a young Milburn Stone as Stephen Douglas), and Darryl Zanuck producing. The movie starts with "The Battle Cry of Freedom."

This is a slow paced elegiac movie, a montage of scenes, not particularly well organized and not laid out in a linear fashion. But that makes little difference. The venue for the movie is Sangamon County, Illinois (with Springfield as the center within that venue). This is not really a linear movie; as noted, it is a set of scenes that define Ford's vision of young Lincoln. A booklet coming with the DVD is especially interesting. There is a brief essay by Sergei Eisenstein, the great Russian director, who comments on this movie. He notes that this is a movie that "I wish I had made." His essay concludes: "My love for this film has neither cooled nor been forgotten. It grows stronger and the film itself grows more dear to me."

Among the vignettes depicted in this movie: Lincoln's poignant relationship with Ann Rutledge and his response to her passing; his move to a legal career; his ride along the river; his meeting Mary Todd. Above all, that wonderful trial episode, one of my all-time favorite movie scenes. Especially moving is his final cross-examination of Jack Cass (the pun generates great mirth among the characters of the movie), played by the redoubtable Ward Bond.

Again, what a year for John Ford! Three fine movies, each, in its own way, a classic. While there can surely be questions about the historical accuracy of this movie, the feel is right in creating a characterization of young Lincoln. Well worth watching. . . .
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on July 2, 2006
1939 is universally accepted as the greatest year in Hollywood history, with more classic films released than in any other, and John Ford directed three of the best, "Stagecoach", "Drums Along the Mohawk", and this beautiful homage to frontier days and a young backwoods lawyer destined to eventually save the Union, "Young Mr. Lincoln".

With the world plunging into a war that America dreaded, but knew it would be drawn into, Abraham Lincoln was much on people's minds, in 1939, as someone who had faced the same dilemma in his own life, and had triumphed. On Broadway, Robert E. Sherwood's award-winning "Abe Lincoln in Illinois", with Raymond Massey's physically dead-on portrayal, was playing to packed houses (it would be filmed in 1940). Carl Sandburg's continuation of his epic biography, "Abraham Lincoln: The War Years", was published, and quickly became a best seller. President Roosevelt frequently referred to Lincoln in speeches, and the Lincoln Memorial, in Washington, D.C., became the most popular landmark in town (a fact that Frank Capra made good use of, in "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington").

All this was not lost on Darryl F. Zanuck, at 20th Century Fox; as soon as he read Lamar Trotti's screenplay of Lincoln's early days as a lawyer, he designated it a 'prestige' production, and assigned John Ford to direct, and Henry Fonda, to star.

Fonda did NOT want to play Lincoln; he felt he couldn't do justice to the 'Great Emancipator', and feared a bad performance would damage his career. Even a filmed make-up test, in which he was stunned by how much he would resemble Lincoln, wouldn't change his mind. According to Fonda, John Ford, whom he'd never worked with, cussed him out royally, at their first meeting, and explained he wasn't portraying the Lincoln of Legend, but a young "jackanape" country lawyer facing his first murder trial. Humbled, Fonda took the role. (John Ford offered a different scenario of the events, but the outcome was the same!) Obviously, they found a chemistry together that worked, as nearly all of their pairings would produce 'classics'.

Unlike the introverted, melancholia-racked Lincoln of "Abe Lincoln in Illinois", Ford's vision was that of a shy but likable young attorney, who made friends easily, and misses the mother he lost, too young (resulting in a bond with a pioneer mother that becomes a vital part of the story). Injustice riles him, and he speaks 'common sense' to quell violence, interlaced with doses of humor. Both productions play on Lincoln's (undocumented) relationship with Ann Rutledge; in Ford's version, the pair are truly in love, and committed to each other. After her death, Lincoln would frequently visit her grave, to share his life with her 'spirit' (a theme Ford would continue in "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon").

A murder trial is the centerpiece of the film, and shows the prodigious talents of the star and director. Fonda deftly portrays Lincoln's inexperience, yet earnest belief in justice tempered with mercy, and Ford emphasizes the gulf between the big-city 'intellectuals' (represented by pompous D.A. Donald Meek, and his slick 'advisor', Stephen Douglas, played by a young Milburn Stone), and the informal, rule-bending country sense of Lincoln. With Ford 'regular' Ward Bond as a key witness, the trial is both unconventional, and riveting.

With the film closing as Lincoln strides away into the stormy distance, and his destiny (dissolving into a view of the statue at the Lincoln Memorial), audiences could take comfort in the film's message that if a cause is just, good would ultimately triumph.

"Young Mr. Lincoln" is a truly remarkable film, from an amazing year!
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on May 14, 2011
Amazing, classic tale of young Abe Lincoln from his early twenties and how he began his life in public office. Henry Fonda excellently plays Lincoln, a lanky, smart youth who after a life changing moment, explores the law to do what's right in society. He modestly begins as a junior partner in a law firm dealing mostly with easy, small cases until by chance, he volunteers his services to a poor family caught up in a murder trial. The movie is directed by John Ford and also stars Ward Bond, one of his favorite staple actors, as J. Palmer Cass. The movie also involves Lincoln's early run-ins with future political opponent Stephen Douglas and future wife Mary Todd. This is one of Ford's unsung masterpieces and is really among his top five movies. The movie features alot of drama and laughs, particularly during the murder trial. Excellent movie and contains many extras such as documentaries about Ford, script and photo gallery, and a booklet containing many facts about the making of. Worth the price and a great addition to any movie collection.
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on August 8, 2013
This film, directed by John Frod, displays Lincoln, the president who saved the Union, as a God- not a human being. It shows Mr, Lincoln before he entered politics and just as he was starting his career as a lawyer. This movie shows him as a perfect human being, without any of the faults that mear mortals have-including Lincoln himself had, if the great biographies written about the man are the least bit true. Yet this film is one of the greatest films(in critical opinion) ever made about American history and is a pleasure to watch. I recommend it-just remember that you are not watching a film about the real Mr. Lincoln.
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on February 14, 2017
Really great movie. Everyone in my family enjoys it.
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on July 27, 2017
Well done!
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on June 21, 2017
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on May 30, 2013
A wonderful film from director John Ford. Henry Fonda is superb as the young Lincoln, trying his first big criminal case. The story goes that Fonda was dubious of playing an iconic role; Ford assured him that he was playing Lincoln well before he had attained such status, but that was a bit of a ruse. Through lighting, in particular, Ford continually reminds us who we are watching at a developmental stage. Fonda was up to the challenge, though. It's a wonderful film, and the Criterion print is breath-taking. It's a different type of movie than "Lincoln," but some audiences may find it equally enjoyable. Plus, Ford regular Ward Bond has a key role!
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on June 5, 2014
Ever see a movie where the actor cast in the leading roll was simply born to play the character? In my opinion I believe the secret behind the extraordinary success of Henry Fonda was that he knew who Henry Fonda was. He would then pick roles which reflected his own atributes. He was born to play Lincoln & did so more than once. That is why this movie is another John Ford classic.
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