Young Mr. Lincoln (1939)

Approved  |   |  Biography, Drama  |  9 June 1939 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 4,910 users  
Reviews: 81 user | 52 critic

A fictionalized account of the early life of the American president as a young lawyer facing his greatest court case.



(original screenplay)
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »
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Complete credited cast:
Abigail Clay
Marjorie Weaver ...
Sarah Clay
Eddie Collins ...
Efe Turner
Pauline Moore ...
Richard Cromwell ...
Matt Clay
Prosecutor John Felder
Judith Dickens ...
Carrie Sue (credit only)
Eddie Quillan ...
Adam Clay
Spencer Charters ...
Judge Herbert A. Bell
John Palmer Cass
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Tiny Jones ...
Townswoman (scenes deleted) (as Elizabeth Jones)
Father (scenes deleted)
Clarence Wilson ...
Dr. Mason (scenes deleted)


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 <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The story of Abraham Lincoln that has NEVER been told!


Biography | Drama


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

9 June 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El joven Lincoln  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$1,500,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


John Ford and producer Darryl F. Zanuck fought an extended battle over control of the film. Ford even had unused takes of the film destroyed so the studio could not insert them into the movie. One scene that Ford insisted on cutting was a scene where Lincoln met his future assassin, a very young John Wilkes Booth. See more »


The position of Abe's elbow changes between shots when telling Ann that he might go into law. See more »


Abe Lincoln: [questioning Cass about Scrub's death] What were you and Scrub arguing about?
John Palmer Cass: I'd rather not say.
Abe Lincoln: Oh, you'd rather not say. Well, Jack, I'd rather you did say.
John Palmer Cass: All right. We was arguin' about politics.
Abe Lincoln: Well, that's something new to argue about.
John Palmer Cass: I've learned some since, but I told Scrub I thought you had at least as much political sense in you as Stephen Douglas. Scrub got as mad as a wet hen and said you didn't!
See more »


Featured in Fonda on Fonda (1992) See more »


The Dew Is On The Blossom
Played when Abe is kneeling by Anns grave
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Symbol, history, and myth.
22 April 2000 | by (warren michigan) – See all my 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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