Abraham Lincoln (1930 film)
|Directed by||D. W. Griffith|
|Produced by||D. W. Griffith
Joseph M. Schenck
|Written by||Stephen Vincent Benet
John W. Considine Jr.
Gerrit J. Lloyd
William L. Thorne
|Music by||Hugo Riesenfeld|
|Edited by||John W. Considine Jr.
|Distributed by||United Artists|
|Running time||97 minutes|
Abraham Lincoln, also released under the title D. W. Griffith's 'Abraham Lincoln', is a (1930) biographical film about American president Abraham Lincoln directed by D. W. Griffith. It stars Walter Huston as Lincoln and Una Merkel, in her second speaking role, as Ann Rutledge. Her first speaking role was in a short film, Love's Old Sweet Song (1923) filmed in the Phonofilm sound-on-film process.
The script was co-written by Stephen Vincent Benét, author of the Civil War prose poem John Brown's Body. This was the first of only two sound films made by Griffith. The film was not a hit at the time, but in recent years it has come to be regarded as one of the definitive films on Lincoln.
The first act of the film covers Lincoln's early life as a storekeeper and rail-splitter in New Salem and his early romance with Ann Rutledge, and his early years as a lawyer and his courtship and marriage to Mary Todd in Springfield. The majority of the film deals with Lincoln's presidency during the Civil War and culminates with Lee's surrender and Lincoln's assassination at Ford's Theatre.
The film covers some little known aspects of Lincoln's early life, such as his romance with Ann Rutledge, his depression and feared suicidal tendencies after her death, and his unexplained breaking off of his engagement with Mary Todd (although the film surmises that this was due to unresolved feelings over Ann Rutledge and adds a dramatic scene where Lincoln stands Mary up on their scheduled wedding day, which never happened).
While the early scenes of Lincoln's life are remarkably accurate, much of the later scenes contain historical inaccuracies. The famous Lincoln-Douglas debates, in addition to the historically accurate topic of the extension of slavery, have been turned into an argument about secession. Lincoln was famously an underdog for the Republican Presidential nomination in 1860; in the film it is suggested he is the sole nominee as a result of the Lincoln-Douglas debates. The outbreak of the War seems to be the North firing on Charleston from Fort Sumter, rather than the other way around. Also, early in hostilities, General Winfield Scott is depicted as being overconfident of a quick victory (and something of a buffoon), when in reality he was one of the voices in the minority claiming the war would be long, costly, and bloody. He would also have been taller than Lincoln at 6'5". Finally, in the climax of the film, Lincoln delivers a conflation of famous words from the Gettysburg Address and Second Inaugural Address at Ford's Theatre on April 14, 1865 - just moments before being assassinated. This was Griffith's second portrayal of Lincoln's assassination, the first being in The Birth of a Nation.
Years later, Abraham Lincoln was included as one of the choices in the book The Fifty Worst Films of All Time.
- Walter Huston as Abraham Lincoln
- W.L. Thorne as Tom Lincoln
- Lucille La Verne as Mid-Wife
- Helen Freeman as Nancy Hanks Lincoln
- Otto Hoffman as Offut
- Edgar Dearing as Jack Armstrong
- Una Merkel as Ann Rutledge
- Russell Simpson as Uncle Jimmy
- Charles Crockett as Sheriff
- Kay Hammond as Mary Todd Lincoln
- Helen Ware as Mrs Edwards
- E. Alyn Warren as Stephen A. Douglas / General Ulysses S. Grant
- Jason Robards Sr. as Billy Herndon
- Gordon Thorpe as Tad Lincoln
- Ian Keith as John Wilkes Booth
- Cameron Prudhomme as John Hay
- James Bradbury Sr. as General Winfield Scott
- Jimmie Eagle as Private Corten
- Oscar Apfel as Secretary of War Edwin Stanton
- Frank Campeau as General Philip Sheridan
- Hobart Bosworth as General Robert E. Lee
- Henry B. Walthall as Colonel Marshall
- Abraham Lincoln at the American Film Institute Catalog
- Abraham Lincoln is available for free download at the Internet Archive
- Abraham Lincoln at the Internet Movie Database
- Abraham Lincoln complete film on YouTube