This week I watched Young Mr. Lincoln (Ford 1939).
After watching this much neglected John Ford classic, I realize why Eisenstein commented in 1945, “Of all American films made up to now [Young Mr. Lincoln] is the film I would wish, most of all, to have made (Kauffman n 24).” Henry Fonda looks like I’d picture young Honest Abe looking myself. Most importantly though, Fonda portrays Lincoln in a way that draws the viewer in. Ford could ” ve made a movie about Lincoln the President, the man who led the North during the Civil War and emancipated the blacks.
The Lincoln portrayed is quiet and not native to the city life he lives as a young lawyer. Giving a speech at one point to onlookers, Lincoln doesn’t know what to do with his hands. The camera doesn’t move in for any close-ups, because Lincoln is far too an interesting man to need the enhancement of taking up the whole camera with him; we ” re already focused on him anyway. It’s this style of direction which I admire most about the film. The script of the film is great also as it portrays the way Lincoln deals with “the American crowd” and how he handles a murder trial.
This film may be one of the reasons that Ford once stated that his best films were not Westerns. As far as research goes, I started reading Scott Eyman biography of John Ford called Print the Legend. It’s been pretty interesting. John Ford enjoyed telling a good story, regardless of whether it was true or not.
a) What message is the filmmaker trying to communicate? Gregory Hoblit, the filmmaker of Frequency, has many things to say about the sequence of events in life. Hoblit is clearly trying to convey to his audience that things in life happen for a reason, good and / or bad, and when we change the sequence of events, there are major repercussions that can and will change everything in and around the ...
To this day it’s not known which were true and which weren’t. Till recently, many have believed Ford’s statement that his birth given name was Sean, when in fact Eyman discovered that it was really John. Ford was also attached to his Irish roots, and this comes out in some of his movies. After watching Young Mr.
Lincoln, I wondered about how much of the mastery of Ford films lied with Ford, and how much credit belonged to the crew. Looking at the Internet Movie Database, I found that Ford often used Frank Nugent, Laurence Stallings, James Warner Be llah, and Dudley Nichols as his writers. I then looked to see if Eyman had anything to say about this, and he said that Ford liked to work with writers who shared his idiosyncrasies and left space for him to do what he wanted with the camera. I couldn’t find any comments on why Ford used Jack Murray for most of his later movies, but I did find that Ford didn’t leave much extra to edit.