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Abraham Lincoln (1930)

An episodic biography of the 16th President of the United States.

Director:

D.W. Griffith

Writers:

Stephen Vincent Benet (adapted for the screen by), John W. Considine Jr. (story) | 2 more credits »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
William L. Thorne ... Tom Lincoln (as W.L. Thorne)
Lucille La Verne ... Mid-Wife
Helen Freeman Helen Freeman ... Nancy Hanks Lincoln
Otto Hoffman ... Offut
Walter Huston ... Abraham Lincoln
Edgar Dearing ... Armstrong (as Edgar Deering)
Una Merkel ... Ann Rutledge
Russell Simpson ... Lincoln's Employer
Charles Crockett Charles Crockett ... Sheriff
Kay Hammond ... Mary Todd Lincoln
Helen Ware ... Mrs. Edwards
E. Alyn Warren ... Stephen A. Douglas / General Grant
Jason Robards Sr. ... Herndon (as Jason Robards)
Gordon Thorpe Gordon Thorpe ... Tad Lincoln
Ian Keith ... John Wilkes Booth
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Storyline

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 <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The wonder film of the century, about the most romantic figure who ever lived!


Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

8 November 1930 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

D.W. Griffith's 'Abraham Lincoln' See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(TCM print) | (copyright length)

Sound Mix:

Mono (MovieTone)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Jason Robards, the son of Jason Robards Sr.--who plays Abraham Lincoln's law partner--has played Abe Lincoln three times on the small screen: in a 1964 Hallmark Hall of Fame special (Abe Lincoln in Illinois (1964)), a 1992 made-for-TV movie (Lincoln (1992)), a 1991 made-for-TV movie (The Perfect Tribute (1991)) and a 1992 documentary. He has also played three other US presidents. He also was the voice of U.S. Grant in Ken Burns' documentary The Civil War (1990). See more »

Goofs

Subtitles correctly describe the bombardment of Fort Sumter by the Confederates as starting the Civil War, but the film depiction shows the reverse. It has the fort firing on the Confederates. See more »

Quotes

Abraham Lincoln: Miss Todd, you thought my face was funny, and the way I dressed was funnier, but the joke's on you.
Mary Todd Lincoln: Why? I don't understand.
Abraham Lincoln: Wait'll yuh dance with me.
See more »

Alternate Versions

Originally, this film was color-tinted in sepia-tone, with blue for night scenes. These prints also had a prologue. Current public-domain prints are in black and white, minus the prologue with a shorter running time. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Great Director (1966) See more »

Soundtracks

In the Gloaming
(1877) (uncredited)
Music by Annie Fortescue Harrison
Lyrics by Meta Orred
Sung by an unidentified girl in a meadow
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Dull, but Interesting from an historical perspective
5 March 2008 | by mstomasoSee all my reviews

Famous silent film director D. W. Griffiths gave us this plodding straightforward historical biopic of the sixteenth president of the United States. As one of Griffiths' few attempts at 'talkies', Abraham Lincoln is by no means outstanding. Like other films of the period, some of the actors (especially Ian Keith as J.W. Booth and Walter Huston as Lincoln) overact their gestures and facial expressions. While others overcompensate for the new medium and seem to play their roles too subtly (Una Merkel's Ann Rutledge).

The film tells the story of Lincoln's rise from humble roots to become one of the most accomplished American orators of all time, while retaining the plain-spoken character that endeared him to the nation. The film uses an appreciative tone, and does not fairly represent Lincoln's considerable political acumen and the very calculated campaign strategies which put him in office. Instead, Griffiths chose to present Lincoln as the good, but somewhat melancholic president we know him to have been.

The story is told in a series of vignettes depicted in scenes of about equal length - probably a limitation of the film technology available at the time. This mode of presentation does nothing to reduce the boredom factor. Most of the lines are pronounced very clearly with lengthy unnatural pauses between each line. Clearly, Griffiths was a little uncomfortable in the new sound medium and did not wish to experiment a great deal with it. The film picks up a bit as the civil war becomes its main focus. And some of the battle scenes are classic Griffiths' near-silent cinematography. However, even this is somewhat muted by the scenes of the president brooding over the dispatches he receives from his generals describing defeat after defeat.

Recommended for early film buffs and young Lincoln afficionados only


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