Young Mr. Lincoln

Director: John Ford
Year Released: 1939
Rating: 2.0

High-class schmaltz about Abraham Lincoln's (Henry Fonda) early days as a "humble" Illinois lawyer and his development of "moral fortitude" with the defense of two brothers accused of murder (it neglects to mention he was to become one of the highest paid lawyers in the country). Ford looks up to Lincoln so much I wouldn't be surprised if arthritis set in his neck - his portrait of the future President is not simply as a man, but as a model of perfection rarely surpassed in the history of mankind (he's a hopeless romantic, he's a philosopher, he's a psychologist, he's a jokester, he can split a log faster than anyone, he's so diplomatic he refused to pick a winner in a pie-eating contest etcetera). The courtroom conflict that fills up the last act of the picture drags after the comparatively rapid acts one and two, and the comic relief by the town drunk (who likes to cuss) and Lincoln himself ("Jack Ass!") doesn't cut it for a pessimistic heathen like me, but flag-wavers and Red Staters will want to wrap the celluloid around their prone and praying bodies.