Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln

Walter Huston
Director: D.W. Griffith Cast: Walter Huston
Walter Huston
, Kay Hammond
Kay Hammond
, Una Merkel
Una Merkel
D.W. Griffith


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To date, this D.W. Griffith epic is the only talking-picture effort to encapsulate the entire life of Abraham Lincoln, from cradle to grave. The script, credited to Stephen Vincent Benet, manages to include all the familiar high points, including Lincoln's tragic romance with Ann Rutledge (Una Merkel, allegedly cast because of her resemblance to Griffith favorite Lillian Gish), his lawyer days in Illinois, his contentious marriage to Mary Todd (Kay Hammond), his heartbreaking decision to declare war upon the South, his pardoning of a condemned sentry during the Civil War, and his assassination at the hands of John Wilkes Booth (expansively portrayed by Ian Keith). This was D.W. Griffith's first talkie, and the master does his best with the somewhat pedantic dialogue sequences; but as always, Griffith's forte was spectacle and montage, as witness the cross-cut scenes of Yankees and Rebels marching off to war and the pulse-pounding ride of General Sheridan (Frank Campeau) through the Shenandoah Valley. Thanks to the wizardry of production designer William Cameron Menzies, many of the scenes appear far more elaborate than they really were; Menzies can also be credited with the unforgettable finale, as Honest Abe's Kentucky log cabin dissolves to the Lincoln Memorial. As Abraham Lincoln, Walter Huston is a tower of strength, making even the most florid of speeches sound human and credible; only during the protracted death scene of Ann Rutledge does Huston falter, and then the fault is as much Griffith's as his. Road-shown at nearly two hours (including a prologue showing slaves being brought to America), Abraham Lincoln was pared down to 97 minutes by United Artists, and in that length it proved a box-office success, boding well for D.W. Griffith's future in talkies (alas, it proved to be his next-to-last film; Griffith's final effort, The Struggle was a financial disaster).

Product Details

Release Date: 04/02/2013
UPC: 0842614105432
Original Release: 1930
Source: Grapevine Video
Sales rank: 46,741

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Walter Huston Abraham Lincoln
Kay Hammond Mary Todd Lincoln
Una Merkel Ann Rutledge
Jason Robards Herndon
Ian Keith John Wilkes Booth
Hobart Bosworth Gen. Robert E. Lee
Frank Campeau Gen. Sheridan
Hank Bell Actor
Robert Brower Actor
James C. Eagles Young Soldier
Ralph Lewis Actor
George MacQuarrie Actor
Cameron Prud'Homme John Hay
Carl Stockdale Actor
William L. Thorne Tom Lincoln
Lucille La Verne Midwife
Helen Freeman Nancy Hanks Lincoln
Otto Hoffman Offut
Edgar Dearing Armstrong
Russell Simpson Lincoln's Employer
Charles Crockett Sheriff
Helen Ware Mrs. Edwards
E. Alyn Warren Stephen Douglas
Gordon Thorpe Tad Lincoln
James Bradbury Gen. Scott
Fred Warren Gen. U.S. Grant
Oscar Apfel Stanton
Henry B. Walthall Col. Marshall
Mary Forbes Woman
Francis Ford Sheridan's Aide
Henry Kolker New Englander
Robert E. Homans Man

Technical Credits
D.W. Griffith Director,Producer
Stephen Vincent Benét Screenwriter
John W. Considine Editor,Original Story
Hal Kern Editor
Gerrit J. Lloyd Screenwriter
William Cameron Menzies Art Director,Production Designer,Set Decoration/Design
Hugo Riesenfeld Score Composer
James Smith Editor
Karl Struss Cinematographer
Bret Wood Producer

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