In John Ford’s Young Mr. Lincoln, Henry Fonda gives one of the finest performances of his career, as the young president-to-be, struggling with an incendiary murder case as a novice lawyer. Compassionate and assured, this is an indelible piece of Americana.
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An exquisite masterpiece and one of John Ford's very best. It's not a case of sentimental mythologizing; it's a subtle character study of a man discovering his own talents and being drawn into his future. Fonda captures the complexity and contradictions of Lincoln - his simultaneous melancholy and humor, his populist idealism and savvy political maneuvering, his connection and aloofness.
There is a certain cleverness and craft to any given shots of this movie. The characters and their place within the framework of the story is introduced through their relationship with the camera and other objects in the space of a shot. It is remarkable how much massage a great director can convey just by placing the actors in the right distance of each other and the camera.
I love what a smarmy prick Lincoln turns into when he enters the courtroom. He's all gawky and humble when he's in town and then the minute he has a case to win he just starts going upside people's heads.
Young Mr. Lincoln is one of those movies that prove to me that my life before seeing it was almost a complete and total waste. Henry Fonda and John Ford do it yet again as I never thought I'd say that Abraham Lincoln is awesome.