Abe Lincoln in Illinois - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Abe Lincoln in Illinois Reviews

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April 26, 2017
Abe Lincoln in Illinois is an incredible film. It is about humble Abraham Lincoln who gains the respect of his Illinois neighbors, growing in stature and respect until he is elected President in 1860. Raymond Massey and Gene Lockhart give amazing performances. The screenplay is well written. John Cromwell did a great job directing this movie. I enjoyed watching this motion picture because of the drama and history.
January 24, 2017
A simple tale of Honest Abe Lincoln, with a well cast Canadian as the lead. Massey's performance is excellent as he had already played the part in the Broadway play this biopic was based on.
September 21, 2016
Abe Lincoln in Illinois 1940

I think that Abraham Lincoln looked too old at the start of the film.

This film mostly covers Abraham Lincoln starting from his early love history but not told but in an idealized fashion.

We see John Brown at Harpers Ferry captured and arrested by Robert E. Lee with Down Brown holding his dieing son in his arms but does not show what John Brown actually did to try to end slavery at

It covers a little bit on Lincoln's political carrier. I find some of the details exaggerated and mythical rather than historically correct. This film also jumps to events and skips a lot of information.

It hints at events and covers the Stephen Douglas and Abraham Lincoln presidential debate.

I think that some of the letters, newspapers, and text are not put on the screen long enough to read them all.

We see Lincoln family about to get a family portrait but they keep finding a way to move and get out of taking the photo.

Chicago Tribute made appointment for photographer to take family portrait for the campaign.

Stephen Douglas has own cheering parade as he arrives into the town.

I thought it was interesting how at the Lincoln and Stephen Douglas debate a reporter was writing his words in Morris code on paper to send in the telegraph rather than written out in words.

The actor playing Lincoln looked like Lincoln but I think that this film missed something because it is told in a boring way and not in a way that really adds anything to his background or those characters sounding Lincoln's life. I have seen better Abraham Lincoln films.
July 4, 2016
Dated. But an interesting take on the Pre-Presidential life of Abraham Lincoln.
August 17, 2015
Fascinating look at the presidents life leading up to his presidency.
½ February 7, 2014
Enjoyed this movie today on Turner Classic Movies. As a native son of Illinois, this movie means a lot to me. Raymond Massey is very good in the title role. Many of the speeches moved me to tears, and so did the closing scene.
July 11, 2013
Also known as 'Spirit of the People' which more than sums up the overriding theme of this sympathetic biography of Abraham Lincoln's rise to the top political job.
January 25, 2011
A moving, wonderfully acted version of the Broadway play. An overview of the Presidents life, his ill fated love for Ann Rutledge, and his marriage to Mary Todd.

Raymond Massey, the lead actor playing Abraham Lincoln, was deeply moving as Lincoln and has made a good living, thanks largely to Lincoln ever since.

By all accounts, very worth watching if you can find it.

The film received Academy Award nominations for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Raymond Massey) and Best Cinematography, Black-and-White (James Wong Howe).

Raymond Massey - Abraham Lincoln
Gene Lockhart - Stephen Douglas
Ruth Gordon - Mary Todd Lincoln
Mary Howard - Ann Rutledge
Minor Watson - Joshua Speed
Harvey Stephens - Ninian Edwards
Alan Baxter - Billy Herndon
Howard Da Silva - Jack Armstrong (as Howard da Silva)
Dorothy Tree - Elizabeth Edwards
Aldrich Bowker - Judge Bowling Green
Maurice Murphy - John McNeil
George Rosener - Dr. Chandler
John Cromwell - John Brown (uncredited)

Directed by John Cromwell
Produced by Max Gordon
Written by Robert E. Sherwood (play)
Grover Jones (adaptation)
Robert E. Sherwood (screenplay)


Raymond Massey (Lincoln)
Gene Lockhart
Music by Roy Webb
Cinematography James Wong Howe
Editing by George Hively

Distributed by RKO Radio Pictures
Release date(s) February 12, 1940 (1940-02-12)

Running time 110 minutes
½ July 3, 2010
good bio-pic a significant picture
½ July 24, 2009
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.
June 25, 2009
"Well, Abe, there are always two occupations open to those who have failed at everything else: school teaching and politics."
January 20, 2009
Perfect movie for the eve of Obama's inauguration. Massey was a little stiff, but he captured Lincoln's charm and wit and especially his quiet suffering. Ruth Gordon's portrayal of Mary Todd Lincoln was frightening. Good movie!
½ September 30, 2008
A surpisingly good movie about the 16th President that made for a nice evening on Turner Classic Movies. The movie includes his eloquent debates with Stephen Douglas, his first love with Ann Rutledge, and his marriage with the unstable Mary Todd.
September 17, 2008
Good bio of the early days of Lincoln leading up to his presidency. Raymond Massey is excellent as the president, he carries the film, and makes the film watchable during the slow moments. It picks up in the second half when he starts to really get into politics. Some nice moments throughout, especially the final few speeches. A good film.
June 25, 2008
Not a horrible movie, but the melodrama, patriotism, hokum, mythologizing, and historical inaccuracies ultimately drag the film down. Massey looks like Lincoln, but seems a little stiff.
½ February 14, 2008
Odd, offbeat rhythm either captures Lincoln or makes him look like a dullard. Ruth Gordon's casting as Mary Todd is scary genius.
½ February 12, 2008
Massey's eerily authentic performance makes this film look like you're watching history in the making.
½ January 22, 2008
The classic Lincoln film. Raymond Massey plays a very good Lincoln.
½ October 2, 2007
It was a bit melodramatic at parts, and an Abe biopic is always contentious. But hey, for once RKO made a non-racist movie.
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