Brief vignettes about Lincoln's early life include his birth, early jobs, (unsubstantiated) affair with Ann Rutledge, courtship of Mary Todd, and the Lincoln-Douglas debates; his presidency and the Civil War are followed in somewhat more detail, though without actual battle scenes; film concludes with the assassination. Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
James Bradbury Sr. (Gen. Winfield Scott), Frank Campeau (Gen. Philip Sheridan) and Robert Brower, who plays an uncredited role, are the only actors in the film who were alive during the American Civil War (1861-1865). They were born on October 12, 1857, December 14, 1864 and July 14, 1850, respectively. See more »
General Lee repeatedly addresses an officer as Colonel, or Colonel Marshall, but the officer wears the insignia of a Captain on his collar. See more »
I know the truth, dear. It's goodbye.
No, no, Ann, dear. You're not going to leave me. I won't let you!
We must be brave, dear...
[looking up to the heavens]
Don't take me away. Don't take me away! It's so dark and lonesome!
Ann, you mustn't let go.
If they'd sing, I wouldn't be so afraid.
[a chorus of "Sweet By and By" swells up in the background]
We will meet there, dear.
See more »
"A nightmare of the mind and nerves" indeed, for Griffith and us!
No doubt about it, D.W. Griffith was one of the great directors of the early silent era. "Birth of a Nation," "Intolerance," "Orphans of the Storm," even a lesser-known film like "The Musketeers of Pig Alley" are all now regarded as classics. Unfortunately, for whatever reasons, Griffith couldn't maintain his success record, and, by the time he made his first all-talking film, "Abraham Lincoln," he was in the midst of a major slump that he just couldn't pull out of. The film is static, stilted, and moves at a snail's pace. Walter Huston, Ian Keith, Henry B. Walthall, and most of the rest of the cast all had distinguished careers in sound films, but here they are merely wasted, unable to cope with the tedious dialogue and Griffith's uncharacteristicly stiff direction. Worst-served of all, though, is Una Merkel, here in one of her first films. I can't believe that Anne Rutlidge could have been such a sugary simp as we're led to believe by her performance here, and her death scene is only exceeded for bathos by Ali McGraw in the last scene of "Love Story." In sum, a major disappointment, a good cast wasted, and a sad farewell form one of American film's true pioneers. Griffith described making this film as "a nightmare of the mind and nerves," and, unfortunately, that's just what it is, for him and us.
19 of 28 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?