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The Day Lincoln Was Shot (1998)

TV Movie  -   -  Biography | Drama | History  -  12 April 1998 (USA)
6.9
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Ratings: 6.9/10 from 276 users  
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April 14, 1865. As four year of Civil War draw to a close, our country again faces unforgettable tragedy: the assassination of the President. Starring Lance Henriksen as the Great ... See full summary »

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Title: The Day Lincoln Was Shot (TV Movie 1998)

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Nominated for 3 Primetime Emmys. Another 2 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Lucy Hale
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George A. Atzerodt (as Kirk B. R. Woller)
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Mr. Crook
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Storyline

April 14, 1865. As four year of Civil War draw to a close, our country again faces unforgettable tragedy: the assassination of the President. Starring Lance Henriksen as the Great Emancipator and Rob Morrow as assassin John Wilkes Booth, this riveting recreation of The Day Lincoln Was Shot (from Jim Bishop's landmark book) is a thrilling and detailed chronicle of the plot, murder and manhunt that changed America forever. To avenge what he called the Confederacy's "noble cause," Booth conspires with his motley followers, rages and boasts, and aspires to a place in history as a Great Man. The weary Lincoln, longing for a just peace, meets with his Cabinet, steals precious time with his family and dreams - literally - of the death of a President. Minute by minute, killer and victim edge closer to the burst of gunfire at Ford's Theatre that stopped Lincoln's heart - and shattered the country's soul. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The Murder. The Manhunt. The Events That Stunned A Nation.


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Release Date:

12 April 1998 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Atentat na Linkolna  »

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1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Goofs

During his eleven days as a fugitive, Booth shaved off his mustache in the vain hope of making himself less recognizable. See more »

Quotes

John Wilkes Booth: What we are talking about is property, slaves are property, valuable, well taken care of. Uhh, gentlemen treats his slaves the way he would his finest tools, with care and concern. It's in his own best interest to do so. Now this... dictator, declares they are free. What happens now? What *happens* to these free men? Free to what? Free to go where? What what what are they trained for? It's insanity. I mean does this man truly believe that he can obliterate a way of life that is centuries old?
John Surratt: ...
[...]
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Connections

Remake of Ford Star Jubilee: The Day Lincoln Was Shot (1956) See more »

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User Reviews

Want to See History Come Alive? See this Film
14 March 2014 | by (Ohio/PA border) – See all my reviews

"The Day Lincoln was Shot" is a 1998 TV film. You wouldn't expect much in light of this, but you'd be wrong.

All I expect in a historical film like this is reasonable historical accuracy and the ability to take me back in time to envision what it was really like (to some acceptable degree, that is). "The Day Lincoln was Shot" delivers in spades.

Rob Morrow is outstanding as actor/murderer John Wilkes Booth. I've read loads of history but Booth never came alive to me until I saw this movie the other day. Booth was a passionate, charismatic, creative type, which obviously explains his occupation. This and his love for the Confederacy proved to be an explosive combination. The film shows Booth practicing his murder in front of a mirror, trying to get the Latin for "Death to tyrants" just right. You just know this nut really did this to psyche himself up for the murder.

FYI: After assassinating Lincoln, Booth caught the spur of his boot on the flag drape as he jumped down from Lincoln's box at Ford's Theater and consequently broke the leg he awkwardly landed on.

Lance Henriksen is fine as Lincon and Donna Murphy is great as his wife Mary. Some say Donna is too good-looking to play Mrs. Lincoln, but Mary Todd wasn't all THAT bad-looking if you check out pictures of her; and she certainly wasn't fat. Besides Donna's beauty is played way down here. Anyway, the film well display's Mary Todd's catty, jealous, temperamental nature. Despite this reality, ol' Abe and Mary LOVED each other and the picture properly shows it.

Ever wonder what family time was like in the White House back then? What were the Lincoln's like at dinner time? Did Abe play with his youngest son? Etc. This picture shows you these things. Interestingly, Will Wheaton, the notorious Wusley Crusher from Star Trek: The Next Generation, plays Lincoln's oldest living son Robert Todd. He does a fine job too. I didn't even recognize him (thank God).

I especially enjoyed the scene where Abe & Mary go for a ride in the country on a carriage surrounded by numerous security guards on horseback. My wife & I often go on rides in the country and it was just interesting to observe Abe & Mary doing the same thing. Why wouldn't they? This is a great scene.

The locations are completely convincing and the film is lensed with such expertise that the viewer is successfully ushered back to the time of the story. The cinematography has that dark, realistic look of modern films like, say, "Last of the Mohicans" as opposed to the overly-lighted, artificial look of older films. The score is great as well.

One powerful scene shows Lincoln talking with his militarists and advisers after the surrender of Lee's army. The latter insist upon the immediate imprisonment and execution of Jefferson Davis, Lee and other significant leaders of the rebellion. Lincoln hears them out but ultimately responds (I'm paraphrasing): "No. Haven't we seen enough bloodshed, enough death? I am adamant about this!" This is line with Lincoln's second inaugural address where he stated:

"With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan -- to do all which may achieve and cherish a just, and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations."

This shows Lincoln's character and partially explains why he is one of my personal heroes. He wanted the hostilities and death to end in America; he wanted forgiveness, reconciliation, goodwill and healing to prevail.

Booth felt that, by killing Lincoln, he'd be helping the cause of the South. He wrongly expected his mad scheme to throw the Union into chaos and embolden the Southerners to continue fighting, regardless of the fact that they had already surrendered. Ironically his murderous scheme was the worst thing he could have done for his Southern comrades. Lincoln would have ensured mercy and leniency during Reconstruction, at least to some reasonable extent, but Booth's actions needlessly brought on many hard years to come for the South, much harder than they would have been otherwise anyway.

Unfortunately "The Day Lincoln was Shot" is currently only available on VHS. The good thing is that it's presently offered at Amazon for a very cheap price. If you're into well-made historical films I'd scarf it up.

For comparisons, "The Day Lincoln was Shot" blows away boring, bloated historical films like the overrated "Gettysburg." It's on a par with "Pharoah's Army" albeit not quite as good as "Glory."

For a good well-rounded cinematic look at the Civil War period I recommend these films: "Glory," "Pharoah's Army," "Ride with the Devil," "Gods and Generals," "The Horse Soldiers," "The Blue and the Gray," "Cold Mountain" and, of course, "The Day Lincoln was Shot." "Andersonville" is worth seeing too as long as you keep in mind that it's a one-dimensional prison picture (dealing with the most infamous prison camp of the Civil War) (by "one-dimensional" I mean that the story takes place almost entirely within a prison stockade in Georgia).

GRADE: A-


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