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Ten years in the life of Abraham Lincoln, before he became known to his nation and the world. He moves from a Kentucky cabin to Springfield, Illinois, to begin his law practice. He defends two men accused of murder in a political brawl, suffers the death of his girlfriend Ann, courts his future wife Mary Todd, and agrees to go into politics. Written by
Ed Stephan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
According to John Ford's lyrically shot, fictional biopic of Abraham Lincoln's life his greatest faults may have been an obtuseness with woman and an ability to dance in "the worst way." Ford's camera has only praising views to reveal of Mr. Lincoln's early life. But for what the film lacks in character complexities it makes up for in beauty and depth of vision. Uncharacteristically beautiful compositions of early film, what could have been a series of gorgeous still frames, Ford has a unique eye for telling a story. The film sings of the life of a hopeful young man. Henry Fonda plays the contemplative and spontaneously clever Lincoln to a tee, one of his best roles.
The film concerns two young men, brothers, on trial for a murder that both claim to have committed. In classic angry mob style, the town decides to take justice into their own hands and lynch the pair of them, until honest Abe steps into the fray. He charms them with his humor, telling them not to rob him of his first big case, and that they are as good as lynched with him as the boys lawyer. What follows seems to become the outline for all courtroom- murder-dramas thereafter, as Abe cunningly interrogates witnesses to the delight and humor of the judge, jury and town before he stumbles upon the missing links.
The film plays out like many John Ford movies do: a tablespoon of Americana, a dash of moderate predictability, a hint of sarcasm that you aren't sure if you put in the recipe or if Ford did it himself. Despite the overtly 'Hollywood' feel of the film, and overly patriotic banter alluding to Lincoln's future presidency, the film is entirely enjoyable and enjoyably well constructed, if you can take your drama with a grain of salt.
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