A copy of the movie, which was considered lost, was found in a barn in New Hampshire in 2006. After being restored (using a videotape of an 8mm copy to fill in segments that were lost), "When Lincoln Paid" is scheduled for its premier in Keene, New Hampshire on April 20, 2010. See more »
I am always glad to see a movie long thought lost recovered and made available for exhibition. However, let us remember that Sturgeon's Law tells us that 95% of everything is crud and a lot of stuff is lost because no one considers it important enough to save. This movie is, alas, from the 95% and although it is of some historical interest -- it is directed by and stars Francis Ford, older brother of and major influence on John Ford. Jack Conway, an important MGM house director in the 1930s and 1940s, also appears.
There are plenty of both sorts of films and given my druthers, I'd prefer to a missing Chaplin movie or HATS OFF. Still and all, this is what we have.
So how does this one stack up? Not very well. There were many Civil War movies in the early 1910s and the Lincoln cult was near its peak. The result is a movie about a woman who uses an old favor from Lincoln to save the son of Confederate general from being shot as a spy after that general refused to pardon her son... this would make it a movie about forgiveness rather than rebellion and give it a chance of playing in the South. There are some expansive shots, including a battle scene. There is much over-acting, particularly by Ethel Grandin as the distraught mother. As for Francis Ford as Lincoln, he plays him in a series of poses that he moves between. The movie is inert and hagiographic and completely unremarkable for the era.
Ay wheel. Keep looking in barns for those old movies. HATS OFF may still turn up.
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