Abe Lincoln in Illinois

Docudrama | English | 110 minutes


Abraham Lincoln leaves his Kentucky home for the first when he and two friends are hired to take a boatload of pigs to New Orleans. The barge gets stuck at a dam in New Salem, Illinois. While in town gathering the scattered pigs, Lincoln meets and falls in love with Ann Rutledge. But this romance ends tragically when Ann dies from what was called a “brain fever.”  The popular Lincoln  is recruited to run for the State Assembly and he wins. After his first term, he decides he would rather be a lawyer. At a party, Lincoln meets Mary Todd. Although she is surrounded by admiring suiters, including Lincoln’s fiercest political rival, Stephen Douglas, Mary and Lincoln connect. At first Lincoln is reluctant to wed Mary as he feels her too aggressive and pushy. But after some soul searching, Lincoln proposes marriage and Mary accepts. Mary senses greatness in this man and feels, with her help, he will one day be president of the United States. Lincoln gets the nomination to run for senator against the formidable Stephen Douglas in 1858. A highlight of the film is an excerpt of one of the Lincoln/ Douglas debates in which Lincoln repeats his stirring claim that “a house divided against itself cannot stand.” Lincoln loses to Douglas but the debates gave him national recognition. In 1860, Lincoln runs for president against Douglas and, this time, he wins.

Raymond Massey (Abraham Lincoln) / Ruth Gordon (Mary Todd Lincoln) / Gene Lockhart (Stephen Douglas) / Mary Howard (Ann Rutledge)
Why Stream This Film?
Another rare example when the film is better than the Broadway play.
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score (Critics Consensus): 83%
  • Academy Awards: Nominated Best Actor in a Leading Role (Raymond Massey); Best Cinematography, Black-and-White (James Wong Howe)
They’ve made a grand picture from Robert E. Sherwood’s Pulitzer Prize winning play of two season back; a grand picture and a memorable biography of the greatest American of them all; it’s almost as  grand a thing when the life of a man can be told as beautifully as this one has been told.
Frank S. Nugent

The New York Times

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