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critics consensus

Young Mr. Lincoln smartly sidesteps the grandeur of the 16th president's historical significance and instead hones in on his modest decency, powerfully embodied by Henry Fonda. Read critic reviews

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Movie Info

In this dramatized account of his early law career in Illinois, Abraham Lincoln (Henry Fonda) is born into a modest log cabin, where he is encouraged by his first love, Ann Rutledge (Pauline Moore), to pursue law. Following her tragic death, Lincoln establishes a law practice in Springfield, where he meets a young Mary Todd (Marjorie Weaver). Lincoln's law skills are put to the test when he takes on the difficult task of defending two brothers who have been accused of murder.

Cast & Crew

Henry Fonda
Abraham Lincoln
Alice Brady
Abigail Clay
Pauline Moore
Ann Rutledge
Ward Bond
John Palmer Cass
Donald Meek
Prosecutor John Felder
Spencer Charters
Judge Herbert A. Bell
John Ford
Director
Kenneth Macgowan
Associate Producer
Alfred Newman
Original Music
David Buttolph
Original Music
Edward Powell
Original Music
Louis Silvers
Original Music
Paul Van Loan
Original Music
Bert Glennon
Cinematographer
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Critic Reviews for Young Mr. Lincoln

All Critics (23) | Top Critics (5) | Fresh (23)

  • This first product of the Ford-Fonda partnership -- reputedly a favourite not only of Ford but of Eisenstein too -- today commands classic status.

    June 24, 2006 | Full Review…
  • Fonda's physical presence throughout the film is a thing of magic, as he seems to glide from one position to the next, never looking awkward even when he is bent in three places to fit within the frame.

    March 8, 2006
  • Rangy, folksy, slow-spoken and self-deprecating, Fonda embodies the young Honest Abe persona as comfortably and naturally as the frontier clothes he wears.

    February 12, 2006 | Rating: B+ | Full Review…
  • One of the decade's most significant works, the film was admired by Soveit director Sergei Eisenstein for its embodiment of the era's spirit and by the French critics of Cahiers du Cinema for its convergence of ideology and style.

    January 26, 2006 | Rating: A | Full Review…
  • Henry Fonda's characterization is one of those once-in-a-blue-moon things: a crossroads meeting of nature, art and a smart casting director.

    May 20, 2003 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…
  • We are never as far from the past as we like to think.

    January 17, 2021 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Young Mr. Lincoln

  • Apr 15, 2013
    What Ford and Spielberg have discovered is that you can take any slice of Lincoln's life and put together a very entertaining film. It makes a film exploring his entire life ultimately lacking. Fonda does an admirable job of exploring areas of character development in young Abe.
    John B Super Reviewer
  • Mar 03, 2013
    fonda is truly great in this, a very entertaining film
    Stella D Super Reviewer
  • Feb 09, 2013
    I'm usually wary of historical fiction, but this one is pretty great. Ford keeps the film from straying too much into sentimentality and Fonda is the perfect choice to play the mythologized version of Lincoln.
    Alec B Super Reviewer
  • Oct 27, 2011
    A perfect film and an amazing portrayal of Lincoln by Fonda. The scene of the killing contains some of my favorite images on film.
    Graham J Super Reviewer

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