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Young Mr. Lincoln

Young Mr. Lincoln

4.5 2
Director: John Ford, Henry Fonda, Alice Brady, Marjorie Weaver

Cast: John Ford, Henry Fonda, Alice Brady, Marjorie Weaver

John Ford's fine direction distinguishes this highly fictionalized account of the early life of Abraham Lincoln. The film shows Lincoln (Henry Fonda) as he rises from a country boy born in a log cabin to a lawyer in Springfield, Illinois defending two young men unjustly accused of murder. The film, produced by Darryl F. Zanuck, received an Academy Award nomination for


John Ford's fine direction distinguishes this highly fictionalized account of the early life of Abraham Lincoln. The film shows Lincoln (Henry Fonda) as he rises from a country boy born in a log cabin to a lawyer in Springfield, Illinois defending two young men unjustly accused of murder. The film, produced by Darryl F. Zanuck, received an Academy Award nomination for "Best Original Screenplay" for its screenwriter Lamar Trotti. Henry Fonda perhaps the most American of actors, is at his best playing Lincoln as the quintessential, compassionate American hero.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Karl Williams
More hagiography than biography, Young Mr. Lincoln (1939) took such outrageous liberties with historical fact that its value as a portrait of the nation's sixteenth president remains questionable. Nevertheless, the performance of Henry Fonda and the assured, fully engaged direction of John Ford placed Young Mr. Lincoln among both men's best work. Indeed, 1939 came to be regarded as Ford's annus mirabilis, the year in which he began his ascent to legend status, directing not only Young Mr. Lincoln but also Drums Along the Mohawk and Stagecoach. It is ironic that Young Mr. Lincoln came to be so well regarded, since neither Ford nor Fonda initially wanted to do the picture. A pair of plays about Lincoln's younger years had just enjoyed success on Broadway, so a reluctant Ford was pressured by Fox producer Darryl F. Zanuck to tackle what was essentially a studio assignment. On reading the script by Lamar Trotti, however, the zealously patriotic Ford became more enthusiastic about the film's all-American subject matter, even persuading a reluctant Fonda to take the lead role. Intimidated by playing such an august historical figure, Fonda at first rejected the part, but he changed his mind during a meeting in which Ford reportedly told the skittish star that he would be playing not "the Great Emancipator" but "a jack-legged lawyer from Springfield, Illinois -- a gawky kid still wet behind the ears who rides a mule because he can't afford a horse." When Ford clashed with Zanuck over the film's slow pace and grew fearful that the studio would ruin his film in post-production, he destroyed the negatives of every take he disliked and did in-camera editing. The studio disappointed Ford anyway, excising a scene in which Lincoln and a young John Wilkes Booth have a friendly encounter. Like that scene, most of Young Mr. Lincoln is pure Hollywood balderdash, resting on only the slimmest tissue of truth. For instance, the real murder trial depicted in the film was based not on one tried by Lincoln but on a real-life courtroom drama witnessed by Trotti, who had covered it as a reporter. Though it was not in any way an authoritative view of its subject, Young Mr. Lincoln was a masterpiece of cinema, showcasing a writer, director, and star at the top of their games. In a supreme irony, Young Mr. Lincoln was a major inspiration for master Soviet filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein in the creation of his propagandistic classic, Ivan the Terrible (1944).

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Region Code:
[B&W, Full Frame]
Sales rank:

Special Features

Disc One: The Film - ; New, restored high-definition digital transfer; Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing; ; Disc Two: The Supplements - ; A profile of John Ford's early career and a talk Show episode featuring Henry Fonda, both from the BBC; Archival audio interviews with Ford and Fonda, conducted by the filmmaker's grandson Dan Ford; Academy Award Theater radio dramatization of Young Mr. Lincoln, downloadable as an MP3 file; Gallery of production documents; Plus: a 28-page booklet featuring critic Geoffrey O'Brien and an homage to Ford by Sergei Eisenstein

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Henry Fonda Abraham Lincoln
Alice Brady Abigail Clay
Marjorie Weaver Mary Todd
Arleen Whelan Hannah Clay
Richard Cromwell Matt Clay
Pauline Moore Ann Rutledge
Donald Meek John Felder
Eddie Collins Efe Turner
Judith Dickens Carrie Sue
Eddie Quillan Adam Clay
Charles Tannen Ninian Edwards
Ward Bond John Palmer Cass
Spencer Charters Judge Herbert A. Bell
Francis Ford Frank Ford
Fred Kohler Scrub White
Kay Linaker Mrs. Edwards
Milburn Stone Stephen A. Douglas
Cliff Clark Sheriff Billings
Russell Simpson Woodridge
Clarence H. Wilson Dr. Mason
Edwin Maxwell John T. Stuart
Eddy Waller Father
Delmar Watson Adam Clay (younger)
Harry Tyler Barber
Charles Halton Hawthorne
Tiny Jones Actor
Dorris Bowdon Carrie Sue
Robert Lowery Juror
Arthur Aylesworth Man
Virginia Brissac Woman
Paul E. Burns Loafer
George Chandler Loafer
Harold Goodwin Man
Herbert Heywood Official
Dick Jones Adam Clay as a Boy
Jack Kelly Matt (younger)
Louis Mason Court Clerk
Ivar McFadden Juror
Dave Morris Loafer
Frank Orth Loafer
Jack Pennick Big Buck
Dorothy Vaughan Woman
Robert E. Homans Mr. Clay

Technical Credits
John Ford Director
Richard Day Art Director
Bert Glennon Cinematographer
Eugene Grossman Sound/Sound Designer
Roger Heman Sound/Sound Designer
Mark-Lee Kirk Art Director
Thomas K. Little Set Decoration/Design
Kenneth MacGowan Producer
Arthur C. Miller Cinematographer
Alfred Newman Score Composer
Royer Costumes/Costume Designer
Louis Silvers Musical Direction/Supervision
Walter Thompson Editor
Lamar Trotti Screenwriter
Darryl F. Zanuck Producer

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Young Mr. Lincoln
1. Candidate [6:11]
2. Education [4:09]
3. Stick [3:07]
4. Damages [4:52]
5. Parade [3:11]
6. Contests [4:58]
7. "Right in the Heart" [7:03]
8. Uprising [5:53]
9. Comfort [2:33]
10. A Supper [5:36]
11. The River [1:53]
12. "Like My Folks" [7:40]
13. Selection [5:25]
14. Sixth Commandment [3:42]
15. Self-Defense [4:26]
16. Jack Cass [4:52]
17. Witness [6:08]
18. Bigger [2:39]
19. An Offer [4:23]
20. "Moon Bright" [3:04]
21. Page 12 [3:25]
22. "The Crowd's Waiting" [1:23]
23. Top of the Hill [3:21]
24. Color Bars [:00]
Disc #2 -- Young Mr. Lincoln
1. Unique [10:33]
2. Early Years [7:40]
3. Themes [4:27]
4. Style and Success [6:32]
5. America [7:26]
6. Two Icons [2:56]
7. Perfect Subjects [5:10]
8. Midway [4:15]
1. A Joy [1:19]
2. Early Years [3:11]
3. Zanuck and Ford [4:00]
4. Westerns [2:23]
5. Family [6:08]
6. A Favorite [2:06]
7. The Heavy [1:21]
8. Satisfied [4:47]
1. Introduction [1:19]
2. Blood Spilled [3:11]
3. A Fresh Lawyer [4:00]
4. Abagail Clay [2:23]
5. Testimonies [6:08]
6. Intermission [2:06]
7. Guarantee [1:21]
8. Almanac [4:47]
9. "Smell of the Country" [2:07]
10. Closing [2:26]

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Young Mr. Lincoln 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
edwPA More than 1 year ago
Most enjoyable. Re-enforces Abe myths
Guest More than 1 year ago
Mr.Abraham Lincoln remains the greatest American who ever lived!Young Mr..Lincoln illustrates the true genius of this great man who rose from the depths pf poverty to the leader of the free world.I have seen this movie many times and it is only second to Abe Lincoln in Illinois.Buy this DVD! It is great!