Classic Film Guide

Abe Lincoln in Illinois (1940)

Featuring Raymond Massey in the title role, this biographical drama is an interesting look at the man, his humble beginnings, his reluctance to serve (shyness and other pressures), and early "grass roots" politics. Massey received his only recognition from the Academy when he was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar. The highlight of this film is Lincoln's "House Divided" speech, delivered in a debate against Stephen Douglas (Gene Lockhart) in Springfield, Illinois. James Wong Howe (Algiers (1938)) received his second Oscar nomination for his B&W cinematography. Directed by James Cromwell, and based on Robert E. Sherwood's (Rebecca (1940)) play, who also wrote the screenplay (adapted by Grover Jones), it features as Ruth Gordon as Mary Todd Lincoln. Don't miss the ending (the aforementioned speech).

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