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Abe Lincoln in Illinois (1940)

Approved | | Biography, Drama, History | 19 April 1940 (USA)
Humble Abraham Lincoln gains the respect of his Illinois neighbors, growing in stature and respect until he is elected President in 1860 and departs for Washington.

Director:

John Cromwell

Writers:

Robert E. Sherwood (by), Robert E. Sherwood (screen play) | 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 2 Oscars. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Raymond Massey ... Abe Lincoln
Gene Lockhart ... Stephen Douglas
Ruth Gordon ... Mary Todd Lincoln
Mary Howard ... Ann Rutledge
Minor Watson ... Joshua Speed
Alan Baxter ... Billy Herndon
Harvey Stephens ... Ninian Edwards
Howard Da Silva ... Jack Armstrong (as Howard da Silva)
Dorothy Tree ... Elizabeth Edwards
Aldrich Bowker ... Judge Bowling Green
Maurice Murphy ... John McNeil
Louis Jean Heydt ... Mentor Graham
Clem Bevans ... Ben Mattling
Harlan Briggs ... Denton Offut
Herbert Rudley ... Seth Gale
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Storyline

Biopic of Abe Lincoln, 16th President of he United States, from his early days in backwoods Kentucky to his election as President. After a time running livestock to New Orleans, he settles in New Salem where he meets and falls in love with Ann Rutledge who is already engaged to someone. Abe makes a home for himself in New Salem, eventually running a store and becoming the postmaster. He's popular with the locals and is eventually elected to the State legislature but afterward established himself in the practice of law. He eventually meets Mary Todd who would become his wife and and is sent to Washington as a Congressman before he is elected president. Written by garykmcd

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Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

John Cromwell: abolitionist John Brown. In his next film role, Santa Fe Trail (1940), Raymond Massey portrayed John Brown. Massey went on to reprise the role of Lincoln in the 1953 stage dramatization of the poem "John Brown's Body", in the first television production of "The Day Lincoln Was Shot", and in the Cinerama film "How The West Was Won" (in which he had no spoken lines). He reprised the role of John Brown onstage in "John Brown's Body" and in the 1955 low-budget film "Seven Angry Men". But Massey played mostly villains onscreen. See more »

Goofs

As Lincoln is leaving the station on his way to Washington for the inauguration, and the crowd is crying out, "Goodbye, Mr. Lincoln," one of the extras clearly yells out, "Goodbye, Mr. Massey." See more »

Quotes

Lincoln's Cook: President of the United States! If they get him back there into Washington, he won't ever come out alive.
[a shocked Mary drops a pot]
See more »

Connections

Version of Lux Video Theatre: Abe Lincoln in Illinois (1951) See more »

Soundtracks

Tippecanoe and Tyler Too
(1840)
Music adapted from "Little Pigs"
Lyrics by Alexander Coffman Ross
Sung by Raymond Massey when discussing the William Henry Harrison-John Tyler presidential campaign
See more »

User Reviews

 
Best ever portrayal of Lincoln on film.
12 April 2006 | by allvnevSee all my reviews

I have seen this film probably 15 times or more and have been a devotee of the Lincoln mythology (for lack of a better term) for nearly 20 years. I remember first seeing the film as a youngster on the same weekend as the death and funeral of President Kennedy in November of 1963. At that time, the two scenes that struck me as most memorable to my young mind was the one where the local woman tells Lincoln that he is the homeliest man in the county; and, the other scene where Lincoln is telling the slightly off-color joke to a crowd about the man fighting the bear. Also, another visual that sticks in my memory is the somewhat haunting scene where Lincoln revisits New Salem after the once thriving city has become a ghost-town.

There are several marvelous aspects of this movie. To begin with, is the near perfect physical and emotional representation of Lincoln by Raymond Massey. Given the photographs of the pre-president Lincoln, making Massey into sixteenth president seems nearly ordained from the beginning. The height, facial structure, and body type is nearly a perfect fit. Regarding how Lincoln spoke, it is hard to determine if that is an accurate representation or not. Historical accounts of Lincoln says that he had a rather high and not necessarily soothing voice. Since, it would be another 30 plus years before there is any kind of recording device, Massey's voice should seem appropriate enough.

Additionally, the cinematography is excellent. The on-location or natural shots are superior by black and white standards. Even though I am a devotee of black and white films, color films seem to have the upper hand when filming wide-open or rustic environments. The feel of the indoor scenes such as the ones within the Lincoln Springfield home is nearly perfect for the times. You can virtually smell the cigar smoke or the burning wood stove. Finally, the lighting during the campaign speech scenes are awesome.

But, the best part of the movie is how even with some artistic license the characters surrounding Lincoln are historically strong and represent in a film microcosm a very accurate historical reality of Lincoln's early years. For example, starting with Ruth Gordon's portrayal of Mary Linoln Todd. With her character, you can easily feel how much she effected Lincoln. Her persistent pressure on Lincoln to achieve political importance and her hard-nose, sometimes loving, sometimes bitter prescience is from my historical reading just about perfect. Since the film takes place before Lincoln is actually president, Mary Todd Lincoln's shenanigans within the White House or her emotional unraveling in her later years is not an issue here.

The romance demonstrated between Lincoln and Ann Rutledge, although later to be historically challenged, then even later to be considered historically (possibly) significant, is quite sadly moving. It is nicely juxtaposition-ed against the image of Mary Lincoln Todd.

Howard De Silva as New Salem's local ruffian is although somewhat embellished, still represents Lincoln's ability to relate to people from all walks of life. The film just seems to find the vital essence of young Lincoln before he became president.

The surreal, final scene of Lincoln leaving Springfield for Washington D.C. (again although actually happening during the day during a rainstorm)after giving one of his many great historical speeches ("this is where I have lived") catches the eerie but profound feel of how important his leadership is going to mean to the struggling republic. The playing of the "Battle Hymnn of the Republic" although premature, is still simple perfect.


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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

19 April 1940 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Abe Lincoln in Illinois See more »

Filming Locations:

Eugene, Oregon, USA See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Victor System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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