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Young Mr. Lincoln
IMDB Rating: 7.7/10 from APPROVED votes
Release: 09 Jun 1939 /

Young Mr. Lincoln

Genre: Biography, Drama
Director: John Ford,
Stars: ,
Synopsis: A fictionalized account of the early life of the American president as a young lawyer facing his greatest court case.

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Critic Reviews


In his otherwise excellent book, Lincoln in American Memory, the historian Merrill Peterson calls Young Mr.Lincoln a "boring, dreadful, film". This amazingly wrongheaded analysis simply proves that great historians are rarely fine film critics. I am working on a doctoral dissertation on Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. As part of my preparation for writing the dissertation, I made a careful analysis of this film, and of Tag Gallaghers brilliant interpretation of it in his seminal book on Ford. Young Mr. Lincoln comes out that culminating year of the first phase of Ford's cinematic authorship, 1939.In that greatest of Hollywood years, Ford directed three superb, still not fully appreciated films: Drums Along the Mohawk, Stagecoach,and Young Mr.Lincoln. It might seem odd to say that Stagecoach is not fully appreciated, all but the most purblind of critics must perceive that it is one of of the greatest Westerns, and perhaps even one of the hundred greatest films of all time. However, what is NOT fully appreciated is that these three films work together as a kind of trilogy-a triptych, in fact. Ford is creating a sort of mythic history of America on screen. Drums Along the Mohawk is the Revolutionary War. Young Mr.Lincoln is pre-Civil War America.Finally, Stagecoach is Post Civil War America. What the three films have in common is that they are an extended meditation on the American Adam and his "errand into the Wilderness". What are the Psychic and social costs of American manifest destiny, as America strives to build a new human city in the wilderness?Lincoln symbolizes Americas journey, as he seeks to reconcile the civilizational inmpulse (law), with the freedom of the wilderness.Young Mr.Lincoln is not history, ( It is full of historical "howlers'-as both Ford and Trotti were well aware), but myth. This is Lincoln, the symbol of justice and mercy, Lincoln, the man of the wilderness, striving to found a civilization within himself, and to become the "remarkable lawgiver' of young America. Young Mr. Lincoln is not history-like James Agee's long forgotten teleplay about Lincoln, and like Sandburgs biography, it is an epic poem...a very beautiful epic poem.

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