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Few historical figures are as revered as Abraham Lincoln, and few director-star pairings embody classic American cinema as perfectly as that of John Ford and Henry Fonda. In Young Mr. Lincoln, their first collaboration, Fonda gives one of the finest performances of his career, as the young president-to-be struggling with an incendiary murder case as a novice lawyer. Compassionate and assured, this is an indelible piece of Americana.
Even though he was the subject of some 158 films, this movie perhaps defines Lincoln on screen--despite the fact that Young Mr. Lincoln was released in what was perhaps film's finest year, 1939. It certainly endured stiff competition: Destry Rides Again, Gone with the Wind, Gunga Din, Hunchback of Notre Dame, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Of Mice and Men, and Wizard of Oz. Young Mr. Lincoln explores Lincoln's budding interest in politics (he accepts a law book as payment at his grocery store), a bittersweet relationship with a girl to whom he shares his dreams, his first law office, and as he meets Mary Todd. The film's highlight is the court trial. Even in his earliest performances, Fonda easily switched between comedic and dramatic. It's remarkable this was actually one of his earlier films--what an onus of responsibility to play the country's most revered president! Fonda succeeds, and performs valiantly and credibly. His portrayal is kindly, respectful, admirable, and brilliant. No president could ask for more. --N.F. Mendoza
Young Abe Lincoln is an excellent film about one of the most popular presidents of our country in his earlier life. Read morePublished on Dec 26 2001 by Daryl Inman
The reviewer below criticizes the movie's historical inaccuracies which is certainly valid. I am in his/her debt to have learned the real story. Read morePublished on Aug. 22 2000 by clutchhitter
I fear that many people, with an aversion to stories of the Civil War, will turn away from this film assuming it's about politics and, or about events leading up to that war. Read morePublished on March 22 2000