Abe Lincoln in Illinois (1940) - Rotten Tomatoes

Abe Lincoln in Illinois (1940)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Abe Lincoln in Illinois Trailers & Photos

Movie Info

Raymond Massey plays Abe Lincoln in this moving adaptation of Robert Sherwood's Pulitzer Prize-winning play. Expanded a bit for cinematic purposes, the film traces Lincoln's progress from his days of scrambling for a living as a woodsman, to his courtship of the tragic Ann Rutledge (Mary Howard) and then the mercurial Mary Todd (Ruth Gordon), to the formative years of his law practice, to his debates with Stephen Douglas (Gene Lockhart), and finally to his election as President of the soon-to-be-divided United States in 1860. Latter-day critics have complained about Massey's stolidity in his signature role, but even the most stone-hearted viewer will be moved by such scenes as Lincoln riding through the ruins of what once was the village of Salem; Abe's heated election-eve quarrel with his spiteful wife Mary; and his climactic speech from the observation car of the train that will carry him to Washington...and immortality. Abe Lincoln at Illinois turned out to be a succes d'estime for its producer Max Gordon and its studio (RKO), taking a bath to the tune of $750,000. Its failure moved one Hollywood wise-guy to collar Gordon at a party and say, "I can't understand it, Max. Lincoln was so kind to everybody but you." ~ Hal Erickson, Rovimore
Rating: Unrated
Genre: Drama
Directed By:
Written By: Robert E. Sherwood, Grover Jones
In Theaters:
On DVD: Mar 23, 2009
RKO Pictures


Raymond Massey
as Abraham Lincoln
Gene Lockhart
as Stephen Douglas
Ruth Gordon
as Mary Todd
Mary Howard
as Ann Rutledge
Dorothy Tree
as Elizabeth Edwards
Harvey Stephens
as Ninian Edwards
Minor Watson
as Joshua Speed
Alan Baxter
as Billy Herndon
Howard Da Silva
as Jack Armstrong
Maurice Murphy
as John McNeil
Clem Bevans
as Ben Mattling
Herbert Rudley
as Seth Gale
Roger Imhof
as Mr. Crimmin
Edmund Elton
as Mr. Rutledge
George Rosener
as Dr. Chandler
Trevor Bardette
as John Hanks
Elisabeth Risdon
as Sarah Lincoln
Aldrich Bowker
as Judge Bowling Green
Louis Jean Heydt
as Mentor Graham
Harlan Briggs
as Denton Offut
Andy Clyde
as Stage Driver
Leona Roberts
as Mrs. Rutledge
Florence Roberts
as Mrs. Bowling Green
Sid Saylor
as John Johnston
Fay Helm
as Mrs. Seth Gale
Elizabeth Risdon
as Sarah Lincoln
Syd Saylor
as John Johnston
Alec Craig
as Trem Cogdall
Peggy Ann Garner
as Little Girl
John Cromwell
as John Brown
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Abe Lincoln in Illinois

Critic Reviews for Abe Lincoln in Illinois

All Critics (6) | Top Critics (1)

Full Review… | March 25, 2006
New York Times
Top Critic

Fine characterization of Lincoln by Raymond Massey with strong period look and feel.

January 1, 2008

A serviceable biopic.

Full Review… | July 5, 2006
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

John Cromwell's historically inaccurate biopic, which is inferior to Ford's Young Mr. Lincoln, was nonetheless nominated for two Oscars: Raymond Massey and cinematography.

Full Review… | January 27, 2006

September 23, 2005

May 26, 2005
Movie Mom at Yahoo! Movies

Audience Reviews for Abe Lincoln in Illinois

This was Canadian Raymond Massey's big hit. He was known as the definitive Lincoln after this portrayal. I have to admit though that I really hate these older biopics with without any edge to them. All the historical figures end up coming across as swell guys. How about highlighting a point in a guy's life when he was a little bit more colourful?

John Ballantine
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer


Raymond Massey's likeness to Abraham Lincoln is truly amazing. It is the role of a lifetime, and Massey is superb. The screenplay is inspired, Ruth Gordon shines. Good supporting cast, beautifully done.

James Higgins

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