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Young Mr. Lincoln (Criterion Collection)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Henry Fonda, Alice Brady, Marjorie Weaver, Arleen Whelan, Eddie Collins
  • Directors: John Ford
  • Writers: Lamar Trotti
  • Producers: Darryl F. Zanuck, Kenneth Macgowan
  • Format: Black & White, Dolby, DVD-Video, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • MPAA Rating: UNRATED
  • Studio: Criterion
  • Release Date: Jan. 17 2006
  • Run Time: 100 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000BR6QIM
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #53,882 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)
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Product Description

Product Description

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

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Format: VHS Tape
"A narrow Fellow in the Grass
Occasionally rides-
You may have met Him-did you not
His notice sudden is-
But I never met this Fellow
Attended or alone
Without a tighter breathing
And Zero at the Bone-"
- Emily Dickinson
Today, Lincoln is a figure of fun, with his top-hat. Sometime in 1965, the top hat acquired more of an association with charlatans, than with old Abe.
In mid-century America you could not go broke writing books about Lincoln, and Edmund Wilson, the mid-century critic, said that he could not think of Lincoln without emotion. Today, the most popular book about Abe deconstructs him as a racist who wanted to send the slaves back to Africa.
I'm afraid, however, that at least one of Lincoln's crimes was his humble background. In a country where mentioning social origins was, in Lincoln's time and ours, impolite, the fact that it is not mentioned makes poor origins on balance a defect in the man.
Didn't Daisy say, "rich girls don't marry poor boys, Jay Gatsby!"?
John Ford usually made Westerns, but in the 1830s, Illinois was part of the frontier. The Oxford History of the American West places the Western frontier somewhere near Amherst, Massachusetts in 1680 around the time of King Phillip's war. Today, the West is a few feet of beach at Half Moon Bay, having failed to ingest Hanoi at the other edge of the big water. There is much of the Western in this film, although the showdown takes place in a court of law.
Certain "feminist" critics have renarrated the plot line of this film, wherein Lincoln establishes "the patriarchal order of the frontier."
The best of these feminist critics leave it, at that. At that point they have done us all a service, having renarrated, accurately.
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By A Customer on Nov. 14 2001
Format: VHS Tape
At 34, Henry Fonda was a most inspired choice for playing the title role in YOUNG MR. LINCOLN. A much simplified film, the movie very sensibly confines itself to what is implied in its title -- the period when he was becoming enough of a local dignitary to be called something other that plain old "Abe" yet before he reached - even in the eyes of his admirers - what could be called maturity. John Ford couldn't have his Dublin fog, he could have torch-lights and misty river vistas to suit his taste for the picturesque. His lovely outdoor scenes do a lot to create a young America for young Mr. Lincoln to live in. The film would have been improved by more roughness and uncouthness. The log cabin where the Clays lived, the people listening to the campaign speeches at the country store, the country people thronging into Springfield for the parade day, are all too neat and gentle to prepare for the free-and-easy courtroom scene, which, mild though it probably is in comparison with the realities of Illinois in the 1830's seems over-done and played for laughs because the key for behaviour of these rough folks who have hardly emerged from the backwoods stage has not yet been set. This refining has gone a bit into the portrayal of Lincoln himself. Nature did a lot to make Hank Fonda a natural choice for the part--his lankiness, his laziness, his drawl, so that a crafty touch from the make-up man was enough to re-create any number of the younger Lincoln portraits. (The camera-man was fatally conscious of this--whevever Mr. Fonda got into a typical Linconesque pose, the camera lingered and lingered over it!). The other folk are largely background, some of them vivid and colourful, some of them - like Stephen Douglas - pure phoney.Read more ›
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By A Customer on Feb. 11 2000
Format: VHS Tape
The movie Young Mr. Lincoln, directed by John Ford, produced in 1939 with Henry Fonda as Lincoln begins with Lincoln in his hometown running for the legislature and his relationship with Ann Rutledge. After Ann's death Lincoln goes to Springfield to practice law. Lincoln's first case is defending two brothers accused of murder. Matt Clay stabs Scrubb White with a knife in a brawl. When Matt and his brother are asked who murdered White they both claim that they did. The entire town seems to be against the accused and the likeliness of the brothers being acquitted seems unlikely. However, Lincoln disproves the witness who claimed to have seen the fight and the murder by the bright moon's light by an almanac. According to the almanac, the moon was about to set during the time and day of the murder and could not have been bright enough for the witness to see by moon light at a distance of 15 feet away. Not only does Lincoln prove that J. Cass, the witness, committed perjury, but also Lincoln accuses the witness of murdering of Scrubb White. Lincoln theorized that when Cass arrived at the brawl and saw that Scrubb was stabbed with the knife, Cass cut Scrubb through the heart and killed him while taking out the knife from Scrubb's body. Lincoln accused Cass of killing White to because of a dispute between them. The movie's historical aspects are brought out by Lincoln's different acquaintances and the fictional by the distortions made in the trial to make it interesting, characteristic of the people, and the filming of the movie. Although these people did not contribute to the plot of the movie, there were people with small roles who helped to better understand the life of Lincoln. Ann Rutledge being one of them.Read more ›
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