Abraham Lincoln

1930

Action / Biography / Drama / History / War

31
Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 100%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Spilled 38%
IMDb Rating 5.8 10 1127

Synopsis


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December 21, 2013 at 09:17 AM

Director

Cast

Walter Huston as Abraham Lincoln
Jason Robards Sr. as Herndon
Una Merkel as Ann Rutledge
Robert Keith as Union Courier
720p.BLU
754.41 MB
1280*720
English
NR
23.976 fps
1hr 30 min
P/S 1 / 6

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Brandin Lindsey 3 / 10

Not Much to Do With Politics, War, or Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln is a 1930 film based on the life of the sixteenth president of the United States of America. The story follows Lincoln from his birth, through adulthood, and into the hardships of his presidency. The film is a dramatized version of Lincoln's biography, and essentially goes through every important event in Lincoln's life.

One of the best parts of the film is the uncanny resemblance between the lead actor and Abraham Lincoln. This doppelganger effect helps the actor achieve a very convincing Lincoln. Some of the humor in the film still holds up and you'll get some laughs from the dialogue. It is also nice to see such a friendly political debate between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas. The point versus point format of the debate in the film appears more realistic and civil than what we have in reality.

Unfortunately, there is much about the film that can be criticized. There are spots of bad acting throughout, such as the "I'm angry" folding of the arms and pouting bottom lip routine. There are awkward camera stares by the characters that are meant to accentuate their points, but instead are confusing and do anything but accentuate. Lincoln said three times that he wanted to preserve the Union, and then looks directly at the camera and practically yells it. Is he talking to me or is there a character directly behind the camera he is speaking to? There are corny, melodramatic moments, especially between Lincoln and his first wife. The movie moves from one event to the next at a break-neck speed, never allowing the story or characters to develop. His ascension to presidency is clumsily foreshadowed in his early years repeatedly. Far too often. Not to mention the fact that Lincoln's wife, Mary Todd, is completely insufferable.

The cynicism of the Mary Todd character is not based on any historical inaccuracies, it is the fact that we are shown her vapid and selfish personality and it is never addressed or resolved. We know that she was pursuing Lincoln before she met him due to his potential wealth and power. But why does Lincoln like her? For that matter, why does Lincoln have the political feelings that he is so adamant about? The film never addresses the conflicts and thoughts of the characters. Of course, we can learn what has happened in history ourselves, but the movie itself does nothing in this regard, and honestly should have been the basis of the story. The audience knows the historical chronological events, but when the "why" of the matter is dropped, the film loses all feeling and meaning. Instead of developing the character of Lincoln, we are given a checklist of important events, which are then dramatized.

I do not recommend this film to anyone. If you want to explore the personality and life of Abraham Lincoln, you're not going to get it here. If you want a civil war movie, you're not going to get that either. If your intent is to delve into the slavery debate at the time, that doesn't exist in this film. Perhaps you're simply interested in Lincoln's personal life and his familial relationships. You won't get that either. I hate to say it, but this is definitely one of the worst Abraham Lincoln films.

Reviewed by classicsoncall 6 / 10

"He'll be more than a rail splitter."

I saw the film on Turner Classics and while knowing it was a talking picture the opening minutes provided some doubt as it went on for a while with no dialog to go with the captioning that I always enable. Eventually sound kicked in at about the point a midwife exclaimed that Mrs. Lincoln's newborn was 'homely as a mud fence'. There was no reaction from the mother who apparently hadn't seen him yet.

I wasn't prepared for the significant gaps in the life of Abraham Lincoln, although for a film made in 1930 I didn't really know what to expect. We go from Lincoln's birth almost immediately to his employment as a young man in a general store. The rest of the picture follows the same format, making chronological jumps of years at a time.

Having seen D.W. Griffith's "The Birth of a Nation" almost a decade ago now, my curiosity was piqued when the approach taken here appeared to be significantly patriotic and anti-slavery. The latter part of the earlier silent film seemed to take a rather apologetic approach to the formation of the Ku Klux Klan. This picture consistently emphasizes Lincoln's determination to keep the Union together before, during and after the Civil War. The scenarios offered showing Lincoln during the War were by far the best part of the film.

One interesting thing director Griffith did was show Lincoln (Walter Huston) pardoning a soldier for cowardice after learning the circumstances of the young soldier's fear (he witnessed a boyhood acquaintance killed in battle). Shortly later, a scene with General Robert E. Lee (Hobart Bosworth) suggested similar compassion when he intervened to save the life of a Northern spy with the War close to an end. I thought the portrayal of this human element on opposing sides of the War was handled rather well.

Having introduced the character of John Wilkes Booth (Ian Keith) early in the story as a dedicated pro-slavery anti-abolitionist, it was to be expected that he appear again for his role at Ford's Theater. The actual scene of Lincoln's assassination was handled rather awkwardly, so it was just as well that the picture didn't dwell on it or the resulting aftermath. As I read other reviewer comments about the picture, I'd have to concur that 'Glory, Glory Hallelujah" was a fitting way to conclude the movie.

Reviewed by Bryan Kluger 5 / 10

Walter Huston is excellent as the 16th President.

D.W. Griffith's 'Abraham Lincoln' is one hell of a film still today as it was back in the 30s. It sure is fitting that Kino decided to release this particular film now, what with the recent election and Spielberg's big budget 'Lincoln' film still in theaters. Not too mention that since the 2012 election, we are seeing several states trying to secede from the union, a very real scenario back when Lincoln was president as well. What might set this particular film aside from the rest of the Abraham Lincoln centered films besides this one being one of the first films to be solely about the 16th president is that Griffith's 'Abraham Lincoln' covers the entire life from birth to death of the legendary president.

Plus, Griffith's 'Abraham Lincoln' is an opposing look to his previous film 'The Birth of Nation', the latter being a very racially charged film being released in 1915. 'Abraham Lincoln' jumps around quite a bit as we have to get the full span of Lincoln's life in under 100 minutes. The film starts off on a slave ship and cuts to a log cabin where Lincoln is born and given his name. We immediately jump to a young twenty -something Lincoln (Walter Huston) having fun with some friends in a bar as he lifts a giant barrel of alcohol to drink. We also get to see a young Abraham become smitten with his first love, Ann Rutledge (Una Merkel), win a wrestling match, and being a fun loving, charming, and powerful young man. It's great to see our 16th president be a normal guy as he studies law and is always ready and willing to be intimate with his girl.

However, Ann becomes ill and passes away. Abraham becomes a broken man and even resorts to lying down on top of her grave because he misses her so much. But since the film's run-time is short, we swiftly move into Lincoln meeting his wife Mary Todd (Kay Hammond) as we see Abraham dive into his early political career then onto his presidency, where we get the epic beard.

As this film is more of a dialogue driven film, rather than epic battle sequences, we don't see a lot of action during the Civil War. This movie focuses more on the emotional and psychological state of Lincoln. It was great to see how the name Honest Abe became about and how frustrated and sadden Lincoln is during this war time. But when Lincoln isn't bogged down by the important serious issues, he is actually a fun and silly guy, one you might want to hang out with.

This is one of Griffith's last movies he made and it is a pretty straight forward film without a lot of creative art direction. And we all know that the Gettysburg Address was one of Lincoln's biggest moments, however that whole speech was not given any screen time. I was hoping for an extra on this disc that discussed why, but unfortunately, there is none. However, there are a several key moments in the film that lead up to the murder of Lincoln by John Wilkes Booth (Ian Keith).

If it wasn't for Huston's performance as Lincoln, I'd say this was a pretty lackluster attempt at making a film about our 16th president. That being said, I think this is worth a look if you haven't seen it, especially on blu-ray.

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