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  • Young Mr Lincoln [DVD] [1939]
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Young Mr Lincoln [DVD] [1939]

8 customer reviews

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  • Actors: Henry Fonda, Alice Brady, Marjorie Weaver, Arleen Whelan, Eddie Collins
  • Directors: John Ford
  • Writers: Lamar Trotti
  • Producers: Darryl F. Zanuck, Kenneth Macgowan
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: U
  • Studio: Studiocanal
  • DVD Release Date: 21 Feb. 2005
  • Run Time: 100 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0002ADWHQ
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 71,304 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Much-admired fictionalised account of the early life of future president Abraham Lincoln, directed by John Ford. Henry Fonda plays the young Lincoln, who moves from his log cabin home in Kentucky to Springfield, Illinois, to establish a law practice with his friend John Stuart (Edwin Maxwell), having long been encouraged to do so by his early, ill-fated love, Anne Rutledge (Pauline Moore). Too poor even to own a horse, Lincoln arrives in Springfield astride a mule. His first major case is a murder trial involving two brothers, Matt and Adam Clay (Richard Cromwell and Eddie Quillan), who Lincoln saves from the lynch mob after they are accused of murdering a man in a brawl at a 4th of July celebration. Lincoln's job as defending attorney is made even more difficult when both men plead guilty to spare the other. The film won an Academy Award for best screenplay.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Holt on 28 Oct. 2006
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Arguably one of the most capable Hollywood actors, Henry Fonda could sometimes come across as somewhat detached from his part, even cold and emotionless. Hence Leone's brilliant casting of him as the sadistic killer in "Once Upon a Time in the West". As Lincoln, however, Fonda is utterly immersed in the role; so much so that you see Lincoln on screen, not Fonda.

When invited by John Ford to take the part, Fonda's response was "Well, to me, that was like being asked to play Jesus Christ" - he jumped at it. This huge emotional and intellectual tie with his part pays dividends with an actor of Fonda's class. He becomes Lincoln; he makes you understand all the early motivations, the struggle for an education, the intelligence, courage, wit, and humanity of this possibly greatest of all American Presidents. Fonda was helped enormously, of course, by Ford's immense talent as a director. Here, Ford was tackling some of his favourite themes: the moral integrity of America's farming class, the triumph of this homespun integrity over "city slickers", and how the courage of your convictions can carry you through adversity. This time though, Ford had a real rags-to-riches story, proof positive that his optimistic philosophy works without being in the least sentimental. As a result, this film works brilliantly, so well that you cannot imagine it being done better by a different director or a different lead.

The story covers Lincoln's passage from farmer/storekeeper to self-taught lawyer in Springfield. Aside from a series of highly entertaining cameos illustrating the development of Lincoln's political skills, the bulk of the action centres around a trial which appears to be grounded in myth.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Nikica Gilic on 3 Dec. 2009
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
John Ford is probably not the classical director most easily understood by contemporary audiences,
and this is probably not his most easily understood film... But, fellas, lo and behold the strange beauty of the images,
the richness of cultural citations and connotations: this is the american cinematic mythmaking at its best; no wonder that the critics of Cahiers du cinema, in their radical phase, chose it as
an exemplary Hollywood film.

If you like classical Hollywood, biopics Henry Fonda or Ford, you shouldn't miss this one (although it's hardly a "typical" ford film).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Tim Kidner TOP 500 REVIEWER on 9 May 2012
Format: DVD
If ever there was a part made for Henry Fonda, for both his imposing physical attributes and noble statesmanlike fairness, it was of Abraham Lincoln.

However, I wouldn't, though others have, call this film a 'biopic', firstly as it clearly states that it's a dramatised story centred around Lincoln as the young lawyer and also, because it covers just that and not much more.

The legendary John Ford's signature direction moulds this story into one of Ford's lesser known greats, having the usual ingredients that make his films simply "work". As usual, it all gels - the cinematography, the characterization, the humour and the final scene of huge pride as the soaring heavenly choir strike up 'Glory, Glory, Hallejulah!' and in the midst of thunder and lighting, Lincoln's Monument fades up onto the screen. Even as a Brit, I felt pride and honour!

The case, involving a murder, sees various members of the local community being grilled in court, with Lincoln as the defendant to the accused; two brothers. As we should expect, amongst the prosecutor's more aggressive questioning and courtroom banter, Lincoln's humanitarian side comes out as he takes a more sober and possibly more successful line.

True - it's not a Western, we all know John Ford can make those and even if we're not Americans ourselves, this remains a well-crafted and eminently watchable film that touches upon the goodness in us all.
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8 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Jason Parkes #1 HALL OF FAME on 5 Aug. 2005
Format: DVD
John Ford is no doubt one of the greatest American filmmakers and a key director of the 20th Century - his greatest work 'The Grapes of Wrath', 'The Searchers' & 'Stagecoach' easily holding their own against greats like 'The Birth of the Nation', 'Citizen Kane' & 'Gone with the Wind.' Heck, even 'lesser' works like 'The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance', My Darling Clementine', & 'Rio Grande' can take most films to the cleaners. He was an undoubted great, and a cursory view of his epic filmography, or the excellent biography 'Searching for John Ford: A Life' by Joseph McBride tells you exactly why...
'Young Mr Lincoln', which has been out of print for sometime and gets a deserved transfer to DVD, now gets to find a wider audience, and is one of the films to which radical Jane Fonda refers to in her recent biography 'My Life So Far' when discussing her conflicts with her father (Henry Fonda's sometime conservative nature is juxtaposed against 'The Grapes of Wrath' & 'Young Mr Lincoln' by Ms. Fonda). 'Young Mr Lincoln', along with films like 'The Big Sleep', 'The Harder They Fall' & 'Johnny Guitar' became a reference point for the early thinking of the critics-turned-auteurs, the French New Wave. It became a case study of that cahiers-du-cinema notion that a particular director's films had an auteurist notion behind them - Ford given the same treatment Alfred Hitchcock was (Francois Truffaut changing the view of Hitch - the shift from entertainer to auteur). Even the sometime caustic critic Pauline Kael described 'Young Mr Lincoln' as "one of John Ford's greatest films." Master Soviet-filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein ('The Battleship Potemkin', 'October')said of it, "Its source is a womb of popular and national spirit. This could account for its unity, its artistry, its genuine beauty.
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