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Sunday, June 8, 2008

YOUNG MR LINCOLN (1939)


1939 was a John Ford trifecta year with three outstanding slices of Americana pie, STAGECOACH, DRUMS ALONG THE MOHAWK and YML. This one moves a bit deliberately for audiences (then & now, it was a commercial flop), but it stays with you. After staging a half dozen iconic moments, each granted that one extra memory-inducing camera set up, courtesy of Ford & lenser Bert Glennon, Lamar Trotti’s clever script settles on a sketchy murder & the ensuing trial as a fulcrum to test Lincoln’s evolving public & private personae. Thanks to Henry Fonda’s grave & funny Lincoln, Ford brings off some brilliant & unexpectedly Janus-faced moments that keep the man from turning into a plaster saint, while peopling a full gallery of memorable characters. Pauline Moore & Marjorie Weaver belie their modest careers with strong characterizations of Ann Rutledge & Mary Todd while Alice Brady, Richard Cromwell, Ward Bond, Milburn Stone, Spencer Charters & Donald Meek are merely the best of the rest. Not to mention cleffer Alfred Newman’s heart-tugging Ann Rutledge theme which Ford memorably reused decades later in THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE/'62.

CONTEST: Henry Fonda's fake nose was recently brought out of storage to help a certain actress win a Best Actress Oscar. (No, I'm not kidding. It's the same damn nose!) Be the first to name the film, role & actress and you, too, can win our usual MAKSQUIBS prize, a Write-Up of any NetFlix DVD of your choice.

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