Parents' Guide to

Young Mr. Lincoln

By Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 10+

Outstanding, inspirational story of Honest Abe's early days.

Movie NR 1939 100 minutes
Young Mr. Lincoln Poster Image

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In 1939, John Ford was already a master and had won the first of his four Best Director Oscars; this film is a perfect, smooth combination of all of Ford's favorite themes. He seamlessly works in patriotism, myth, broad humor, dancing, and a love of history, as well as his unerring, poetic visual sense. Just witness the scene in which Lincoln (a terrific Henry Fonda, wearing a prosthetic nose and chin) arrives at the scene of the crime. He's framed from the back, a still, solid, black silhouette in the center of the commotion.

All of these moments of humor, beauty, sadness, and suspense, are perfectly smoothed and balanced into one streamlined experience; everything belongs (even the fictional and non-fictional fits together). It would have been easy to treat Lincoln with too much reverence, but Ford and screenwriter Lamar Trotti find a middle place for him, comfortable dealing with the uneducated and simple folks as well as those in positions of power. He comes across as a complex and appealingly human character, suffering regular pains and making regular decisions.

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