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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

Although the film credits Gen. Phillip Sheridan for saving Washington from the threat of a Confederate offensive by Gen. Jubal Early, Maj. Gen. Gouverneur K. Warren of VI Corps was actually most responsible for saving the capitol. Sheridan did not command VI Corps but he did command the Army of the Potomac's cavalry. Warren was commander of the military district that included Maryland and part of Pennsylvania. He stopped Early's Confederates at the Battle of Monocacy, near Frederick, MD, on July 9, 1864. While the overall battle was a Confederate victory, Warren's defeat of Early delayed Early's attack on Washington for a day, giving the Union time to bring up reinforcements. The Confederates launched an attack on Washington again on July 12 but were badly defeated at the Battle of Fort Stevens and retreated to Virginia, never launching an attack on Washington again. See more »

Goofs

Due to the Blue Laws prevalent at the time, no newspaper in America could publish on Sunday in 1809 (Abraham Lincoln was born on Sunday February 12, 1809). See more »

Quotes

Townsman in general store: [after Lincoln has beat Armstrong and others] He said he was a peaceful man. He's been as peaceful as a wildcat.
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 Drei D (1988) See more »

Soundtracks

Battle Hymn of the Republic
(ca 1856) (uncredited)
Music by William Steffe
Lyrics by Julia Ward Howe (1862)
Played during the opening credits and often in the score
Sung by an offscreen chorus during a civil war scene
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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