320 Young Mr. Lincoln

Discuss DVDs and Blu-rays released by Criterion and the films on them. If it's got a spine number, it's in here. Threads may contain spoilers.
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DRSchwarz
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#51 Post by DRSchwarz » Wed Apr 05, 2006 4:19 am

I just watched this film and I must say, I love the quality of the picture. It looked so crisp and clean. Strong work Criterion!

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Antoine Doinel
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#52 Post by Antoine Doinel » Tue Apr 18, 2006 11:54 am

[quote]MSNBC.com

Mr. Ford's Mr. Lincoln
A great president inspired a great director to make one of the great American movies.
By Malcolm Jones
Newsweek

March 10, 2006 - A John Ford movie is a tough sell these days. The sentimentality, the boys-club atmosphere, the broad humor—where the only thing funnier than a bar fight is a longer bar fight—these things don't play well with modern audiences. If movie fans think of Ford at all, it's as the man who made a lot of John Wayne Westerns. Never mind that he made more than 140 pictures, starting in the silent era and going right up through the '60s. His subjects ranged from the building of the transcontinental railroad to PT boat squadrons in World War II, from the Okie migration to Mary of Scotland. He won five Academy Awards. But Ford is not one of those directors, like Preston Sturges or Alfred Hitchcock or Orson Welles, whose movies always manage to feel contemporary. His movies hark back to the 19th century in their outlook and the values they espouse. They are a little antique, a little prim. Still, they are populist in the best sense: he made movies for everyone, although not in the dumbed-down sense in which we understand that today. The best Ford movies operate on several levels at once. There are things a child can appreciate, and there are deeply contradictory elements that engage the wisest observer. His genius—and it took a genius to do this—was to put all these things in the same picture. Somehow he makes it all hang together.

Ironically, the one Ford film most often singled out for praise is “The Searchersâ€

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daniel p
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#53 Post by daniel p » Mon Apr 24, 2006 8:34 pm

Is there anywhere I can read the Eisenstein essay online? Opted for other titles over this one, but am still interested in reading that...

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GringoTex
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#54 Post by GringoTex » Sat Apr 29, 2006 1:16 am

Nothing about this movie should have worked for us modern-day watchers. But Ford perfects all-American hero worship by undercutting all the pinnings and making us cry. Long live the auteur!

It wasn't until I watched this disc and read the Eisenstein essay that I realized Ford is so much better than Eisenstein. It felt like the prequel to Liberty Valance.

And I want to add that anyone who thinks Lincoln accepting the payment from the family is in any way a comment (pro or con) on capitalism probably has no concept of money.

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ellipsis7
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#55 Post by ellipsis7 » Sun Jun 25, 2006 4:08 pm

Here is an interesting new piece on YOUNG MR LINCOLN by Tag Gallagher...

Anonymous

#56 Post by Anonymous » Sat Aug 12, 2006 2:47 pm

Langlois68 wrote:Nothing about this movie should have worked for us modern-day watchers. But Ford perfects all-American hero worship by undercutting all the pinnings and making us cry. Long live the auteur!

It wasn't until I watched this disc and read the Eisenstein essay that I realized Ford is so much better than Eisenstein. It felt like the prequel to Liberty Valance.

And I want to add that anyone who thinks Lincoln accepting the payment from the family is in any way a comment (pro or con) on capitalism probably has no concept of money.
Why should the film work for us, modern watchers ? I saw it for the first time yesterday(the Criterion DVD, which my ignoble TV set did not treat very kindly ; I have the nasty impression it cropped a few millimeters on the top) and was struck by a simple thing. We have characters and we have a story, and Ford animates all that ; and you could probably argue that the fashion in which he organized the whole picture is dated and manipulative, or that it sucks. But see, hear how Ford lets time and light exist and be sensed in the film — in the wonderful, the moody silences of the film. Most modern films do what they can to hide their first trade, which is to show ghosts. This one does not flinch.

(And Lincoln accepting the payment is a fitting gesture. Refusing it would have been condescendingly « good ».)

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aox
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Re: 320 Young Mr. Lincoln

#57 Post by aox » Wed Oct 14, 2009 11:32 am

I watched this last night and I am really torn. First off, I thought it was a wonderful film, and I even enjoyed the courtroom drama in the second act despite the crass joke and the mob following Lincoln to accuse the guilty man with all inappropriate melodrama. But, I am torn on Lincoln's portrayal. We see the roots of his compassion and sensibility extolled on the screen and we witness these traits evolve. These traits would culminate 30 years later with his development in his Presidency from 1860-1865; namely, his move from indifference to emancipation on the slave, or more appropriately, 'black' question. Even the scenes at the Clays where he made, what can be construed in 2009, as racist comments didn't bother me because they were probably very accurate feelings for people at this time. Even those as enlightened as what we believe Lincoln to be.

But, the last scene really got me when he accepts payment from the poor family. Lincoln is built up throughout the film to essentially be a capitalist, but also he exudes sympathy and charity. In the first few scenes, he offers credit to the poor family seeking goods until they offer him the books, which he accepts. I realize this sets up the final scene. Lincoln is the symbol in American history of wage labor (in opposition of slave labor), so this makes sense that he doesn't believe that you can get something for nothing. He believed in the fair exchange for goods and services even if this means an extension of credit...(On a side note, I find that interesting since credit was abhorred in most American society during the nineteenth century as immoral. And this is even more odd considering this wasn't someone in town, these were pioneers heading west and he would arguably never see or hear from them again.)

Getting back to the last scene, Lincoln had offered the family his services (to defend the boys). A service is arguably more subjective in its worth than a tangible good or item; however, Lincoln never once discussed payment and acted throughout the film as performing a pro-bono service. Moreover, he doesn't ask for payment at the end and seems even surprised, though humbled, by the mother's offering. He doesn't even count the money and accepts it in full, while knowing this is pretty much everything the family has, and they have a long road ahead of them.

Knowing Lincoln's philosophy on wages and capitalism, I am not so much bothered by his acceptance of the money (though, he does act throughout the film as being pro-bono), but his lack of compassion in the situation and not at least splitting it down the middle (I wouldn't expect someone with Lincoln's philosophy to outright refuse; though, he probably should have.) Now, I realize that this to many (including Ford and his hero-worship) represents America and Capitalism at its best, but we are talking about a service here that could be adjusted subjectively (as opposed to gold or sugar): Lincoln could have charged anything he wanted that he thought was fair for his time and effort. This in conjunction with the possible pro-bono aspects of the story really rubbed me the wrong way, and I am in no way advocating some Marxist ideology.

What were your thoughts on the ending?

PS: sorry for typos or if I am unclear. I am at work engaging in capitalism. :D

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GringoTex
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Re: 320 Young Mr. Lincoln

#58 Post by GringoTex » Wed Oct 14, 2009 12:04 pm

I'm not sure where you're coming from. What does accepting payment for services rendered have to do with capitalism? In what economic system is this NOT the norm?

Lincoln contributed to the best of his ability and the family paid to the best of theirs. This is in fact anti-capitalism as it has nothing to do with supply and demand setting the price of goods and services.

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aox
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Re: 320 Young Mr. Lincoln

#59 Post by aox » Wed Oct 14, 2009 12:15 pm

GringoTex wrote:I'm not sure where you're coming from. What does accepting payment for services rendered have to do with capitalism? In what economic system is this NOT the norm?
By the very fact that the US is a capitalist system. You're right, it is the norm.
Lincoln contributed to the best of his ability and the family paid to the best of theirs. This is in fact anti-capitalism as it has nothing to do with supply and demand setting the price of goods and services.
You're right. My main qualm, as indicated in my post, was that these services were delivered without talk of pay and could be construed as pro-bono. I merely mentioned economics because it isn't like he even counts the money at the end to see if it matches the fee he would charge under the supply and demand of his services. Services being arguably more subjective than tangible goods (that is meant only as a comparison; meaning, it wasn't like they shortchanged him on a bag of sugar).

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godardslave
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Re: 320 Young Mr. Lincoln

#60 Post by godardslave » Sun Jan 10, 2010 2:04 am

is part 2 of the omnibus John Ford documentary available on dvd anywhere? (criterion or otherwise)

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ellipsis7
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Re: 320 Young Mr. Lincoln

#61 Post by ellipsis7 » Sun Jan 10, 2010 9:35 am

Well part #1 of 'Omnibus: John Ford' on YOUNG MR LINCOLN is heavily edited down from the BBC original to deal with clip rights issues etc., I have somehere aged yet complete VHS copies of both part #1 & #2 tx. off the BBC early 1990s... I don't think any version of part#2 is available commercially as yet...

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Re: 320 Young Mr. Lincoln

#62 Post by solaris72 » Wed Jan 13, 2010 9:19 pm

I suspect part 2 will either be on Stagecoach or The Long Voyage Home.

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Re: 320 Young Mr. Lincoln

#63 Post by weinmanj » Mon Oct 31, 2011 3:59 pm

I re-watched this the other day, and continue to have a very strong love/something-other-than-love relationship with it.

The transformation of a nearly-plotless, stylized, mythological film into a courtroom procedural is what always bothered me from the first time I saw it, as it bothers other posters here. To be fair, I think these scenes probably worked a little better before they were done thousands of times on television, but by 1939 Perry Mason had been around for some years; it couldn't have felt new even then. (I have a suspicion that any plot device that seems like a cliché now probably didn't feel any fresher at the time). What else they could have done for a plot, I'm not sure; probably this was as good an idea as any for something that would fit in with Lincoln's chosen profession and foreshadow all the things the filmmakers wanted to foreshadow -- Lincoln's political skills, the slightly cruel edge of his humor, and of course his mythic refusal to split America apart. Still, it's a disappointment.

In choosing to express their big, mythic themes through a predictable little courtroom story, Ford and Zanuck and Trotti sum up the good and bad of mainstream Hollywood entertainment from then up to the modern day (not just in film but on TV, in the better TV procedurals). There's a sense that the themes are trying to break free of the straitjacket of convention, where you have to have a plot and the plot must end a certain way. And yet some of the most powerful moments come from the way convention is played with or subverted: if this were a different kind of film, a less Hollywood kind of film, the little suggestions of Lincoln's harder or pragmatic side wouldn't be as interesting. They're like dissonances in an otherwise rigidly-formatted piece of music.

With some Hollywood entertainment, the plot is exciting or interesting enough that it carries you along pleasurably; with other movies, the plot is an annoyance that you can almost ignore in favor of what the movie is "really" saying. But the first and second halves of Young Mr. Lincoln are saying more or less the same things, and if Zanuck came back to life today he'd probably tell me, at length, why the courtroom triumph is the necessary pay-off to the building of character in the first half. (It's really sort of a biopic set free from the demands of actual biography: it kind of has the arc and structure of a Fox biopic, except that all the character's real victories are symbolized by this mostly-fictional victory in court.) But I can't help wishing for a less Hollywood approach to the second half, even as I know the Hollywood approach is what gives the first half a lot of its meaning.

It is still fascinating to see how Ford somehow brought his own style to the Zanuck empire. This is basically a very Zanuck picture, part of his Americana cycle where he set out to turn fairly recent (at the time) American history into something between fairy-tale and folk myth. Lamarr Trotti wrote a lot of those films, including this one (and including the disastrous end of the cycle, Wilson). And Ford didn't work on the development of this script. But it does have a different feel from other movies in the cycle shot by other directors, if only because Ford played the mythological aspects of it up to the hilt; I think other directors of material like this would have a tendency to make it feel as real as possible, while Ford is stylizing everything.

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Re: 320 Young Mr. Lincoln

#64 Post by swo17 » Mon Oct 16, 2017 5:32 pm


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matrixschmatrix
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Re: 320 Young Mr. Lincoln

#65 Post by matrixschmatrix » Mon Oct 16, 2017 5:36 pm

With new commentary! That's more than enough to sell me on an upgrade.

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Re: 320 Young Mr. Lincoln

#66 Post by Ribs » Mon Oct 16, 2017 5:43 pm

...should we take the fact that it's just the first, pre-war part of the Lindsay Anderson documentary to mean there's probably an upcoming Ford title from the post-WWII period to feature the second half?

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Re: 320 Young Mr. Lincoln

#67 Post by matrixschmatrix » Mon Oct 16, 2017 5:46 pm

I believe that was part of the original release

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Re: 320 Young Mr. Lincoln

#68 Post by PfR73 » Mon Oct 16, 2017 6:27 pm

Yeah, the Omnibus documentary (1st half) was on the original release, and the same theory about the 2nd half appearing on a future Ford release was postulated back then also (specifically by ellipsis7), however the 2nd half has so far never materialized on any subsequent Ford release.

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Re: 320 Young Mr. Lincoln

#69 Post by Andrew_VB » Mon Oct 16, 2017 7:35 pm

now, 11 years later, the post at the top of this page is pretty funny.

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Re: 320 Young Mr. Lincoln

#70 Post by John Shade » Thu Nov 16, 2017 8:30 pm

How are McBride's commentaries? Is he on any other disc?

Kind of sad not to see Tag Gallagher on this release, but you can still read the following essay as I did while imagining his voice:

http://sensesofcinema.com/2006/cinema-a ... r_lincoln/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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Gregory
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Re: 320 Young Mr. Lincoln

#71 Post by Gregory » Thu Nov 16, 2017 8:44 pm

I think they're valuable and well-informed, as expected judging from his written work on Ford. He's also heard on other R1 Ford discs such as The Grapes of Wrath, 3 Bad Men, How Green Was My Valley, and Cheyenne Autumn.

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matrixschmatrix
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Re: 320 Young Mr. Lincoln

#72 Post by matrixschmatrix » Fri Nov 17, 2017 1:07 am

I love McBride, I think he's my second favorite person to hear on Ford (behind Gallagher). His book on Welles is excellent too.

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Re: 320 Young Mr. Lincoln

#73 Post by Roger Ryan » Mon Nov 20, 2017 11:09 am

Gregory wrote:I think they're valuable and well-informed, as expected judging from his written work on Ford. He's also heard on other R1 Ford discs such as The Grapes of Wrath, 3 Bad Men, How Green Was My Valley, and Cheyenne Autumn.
Also My Darling Clementine for Criterion.

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Re: 320 Young Mr. Lincoln

#74 Post by barnyard078 » Mon Nov 20, 2017 9:11 pm

Also Olive Signature's Quiet Man.

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Re: 320 Young Mr. Lincoln

#75 Post by John Shade » Mon Nov 20, 2017 10:09 pm

Been holding out for that recent Olive release of Quiet Man; still haven't listened to the commentary on Clementine, maybe I'll do so this week.

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