Monday, January 12, 2015

#526: Young Mr. Lincoln

Directed by: JOHN FORD
1939, TSPDT Rank #513

Orson Welles considered John Ford to be a "cinematic poet", and Young Mr. Lincoln is just one of many examples of Ford's sublime poetry. A sequence early in the film showing Lincoln's relationship with his first love, Ann Rutledge, is just about as beautiful (and succinct) as film can get. As for the rest of the film, Ford does his best to evoke early American times and the beginning of Abraham Lincoln's career as a lawyer. He is clearly more concerned with presenting Lincoln as a humble, unassuming legend than recreating history, but the film is all the better for it. The fact that Henry Fonda bears a frightening resemblance to Lincoln in the film only adds to the film's effectiveness. Young Mr. Lincoln is just one of numerous masterpieces which Ford made during this time period of the late '30s and early '40s, and it serves as a prime demonstration of the talents of one of the most singular and distinctive American filmmakers of all time.

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