February 10, 2006 at 05:00 AM EST

Young Mr. Lincoln (Ford at Fox Collection)

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
performer
Henry Fonda
director
John Ford
distributor
20th Century Fox Film Corporation
author
Lamar Trotti
genre
Drama

What better way to celebrate Lincoln’s birthday than an immersion into director John Ford’s beautiful biography, Young Mr. Lincoln, a film about not the Great Emancipator, but a lanky Honest Abe as a fledgling country lawyer? Henry Fonda manages plainspoken eloquence in this visually simple, morally complex movie, a too rarely emulated model for political filmmaking. Neither director nor star has an ideological ax to grind — the only ax is the one Lincoln uses to split rails in one of the most iconic, enjoyable scenes. EXTRAS A fine overview of Ford’s career presented by director Lindsay Anderson for the BBC, and a TV interview with Fonda by the BBC’s Michael Parkinson, whose self-effacing thoroughness puts our James Lipton to shame. And be sure to read Geoffrey O’Brien’s essay on Ford’s ”cinematic language fit for democratic myth.”

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