7.6/10
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Young Mr. Lincoln (1939)

Passed | | Biography, Drama | 9 June 1939 (USA)
A fictionalized account of the early life of the American president as a young lawyer facing his greatest court case.

Director:

John Ford

Writer:

Lamar Trotti (original screenplay)

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 3 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Henry Fonda ... Abraham Lincoln
Alice Brady ... Abigail Clay
Marjorie Weaver ... Mary Todd
Arleen Whelan ... Sarah Clay
Eddie Collins Eddie Collins ... Efe Turner
Pauline Moore ... Ann Rutledge
Richard Cromwell ... Matt Clay
Donald Meek ... Prosecutor John Felder
Judith Dickens Judith Dickens ... Carrie Sue
Eddie Quillan ... Adam Clay
Spencer Charters ... Judge Herbert A. Bell
Ward Bond ... John Palmer Cass
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Eddy Waller ... Father (scenes deleted)
Clarence Wilson ... Dr. Mason (scenes deleted)
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Storyline

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 <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The story of Abraham Lincoln that has NEVER been told!

Genres:

Biography | Drama

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

9 June 1939 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Young Mr. Lincoln See more »

Filming Locations:

Sacramento, California, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,500,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Twentieth Century Fox See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

During the Springfield parade scene, the crowd chants "hayfoot, strawfoot!" at the militia soldiers as they march past. This is a reference to the army training practice of the time of putting hay on the left hand boot of recruits, and straw on the right hand boot, so that sergeants could get recruits to march in step. The largely rural farm boy population of the country that made up the army often didn't know left from right, but they knew the difference between hay and straw. The practice actually was most common in the Civil War. See more »

Goofs

Henry Fonda's makeup was based on pictures of Lincoln when he was about 45 years of age and had lost a substantial amount of weight partially as a result of the stress of his job and of the loss of Anne Rutledge. This was because at the time no pictures were thought to exist of him as a young man. Fortunately, a photograph of Lincoln taken in the 1840s was brought to light some years ago and it appears that he was a very handsome young man. See more »

Quotes

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!
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Soundtracks

Yankee Doodle
(uncredited)
Traditional 18th century tune
Played on drum and fife at the Independence Day parade
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Delicious with a grain of salt
2 August 2007 | by hereontheoutsideSee all my reviews

According to John Ford's lyrically shot, fictional biopic of Abraham Lincoln's life his greatest faults may have been an obtuseness with woman and an ability to dance in "the worst way." Ford's camera has only praising views to reveal of Mr. Lincoln's early life. But for what the film lacks in character complexities it makes up for in beauty and depth of vision. Uncharacteristically beautiful compositions of early film, what could have been a series of gorgeous still frames, Ford has a unique eye for telling a story. The film sings of the life of a hopeful young man. Henry Fonda plays the contemplative and spontaneously clever Lincoln to a tee, one of his best roles.

The film concerns two young men, brothers, on trial for a murder that both claim to have committed. In classic angry mob style, the town decides to take justice into their own hands and lynch the pair of them, until honest Abe steps into the fray. He charms them with his humor, telling them not to rob him of his first big case, and that they are as good as lynched with him as the boys lawyer. What follows seems to become the outline for all courtroom- murder-dramas thereafter, as Abe cunningly interrogates witnesses to the delight and humor of the judge, jury and town before he stumbles upon the missing links.

The film plays out like many John Ford movies do: a tablespoon of Americana, a dash of moderate predictability, a hint of sarcasm that you aren't sure if you put in the recipe or if Ford did it himself. Despite the overtly 'Hollywood' feel of the film, and overly patriotic banter alluding to Lincoln's future presidency, the film is entirely enjoyable and enjoyably well constructed, if you can take your drama with a grain of salt.


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