Abraham Lincoln (As Seen by D.W. Griffith)


Today is the Great Emancipator’s birthday. In honor thereof, we present one of our favorite movies, D.W. Griffith’s beautiful, bizarre Abraham Lincoln, one of only two talkies that he made. I find the slow pace of it dream-like and enchanting. Walter Huston is extremely weird as Lincoln, Una Merkel is in one of her rare serious roles as Ann Rutledge, and Jason Robards, Sr. (dad of the Jason Robards we all know) plays Lincoln’s law partner Billy Herndon. After the sins of The Birth of a Nation, Griffith had a lot to atone for, and to his credit he spent a lot of time trying to do so, notably in the follow-up epic Intolerance (1916), and in this hagiography of Abe.  If you don’t dig the weird pleasures of this movie, you’re just too damn impatient.

Also, for your reading pleasure, might I recommend Carl Sandburg’s multi-volume Lincoln biography. I tackled this monster when I was about 19.  Naturally, 80 years of subsequent scholarship have overridden some of the facts. But I’m of the view that some people deserve hagiographies, and for me Lincoln’s very near the top of that short list.

Happy birthday, Abe!

For more on early film history don’t miss my new book Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from amazon.com etc etc etc



3 Responses to “Abraham Lincoln (As Seen by D.W. Griffith)”

  1. That was truly bizarre, I could only take a few minutes of ole Abe’s mascara and lipstick. I was not aware of this movie; thanks for sharing it….


  2. I Love D.W. Griffith’s Movie Abraham Lincoln And It Was A Good
    Story About A Man Who Is The 16th President And I Really Enjo
    yed And Loved The Film Based On A True Story About Abraham
    Lincoln’s Life And The Movie Is A Great Story And I Loved It Very
    Much! Great Work, I Really Loved The Director’s Job To Make Th
    e Movie More Enjoyable For Fans And Non-Fans To Watch And
    Even Though I Don’t Know Them But It Is A Good Movie Anyway
    And The Film Is A Big Thumbs Up!

    PS Abraham Lincoln Was A Great Male President And A Best
    Father And Husband Of Mary Todd Lincoln And The Movie
    About Him Was A Thrilling Story! Happy Birthday, Mr. Lincoln!!!


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