Abe Lincoln in Illinois (1940)

110 mins | Biography | 19 April 1940

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HISTORY

Studio records note that RKO paid $120,000 for Robert E. Sherwood's story. Raymond Massey also portrayed the role of Abraham Lincoln in Sherwood's Pulitzer Prize-winning stage production. According to studio publicity records, Sherwood wrote the play with Massey in mind. An article in LAEx adds that Sherwood refused to sell the rights of the play to Samuel Goldwyn because Goldwyn wanted to star Gary Cooper in the title role and Sherwood insisted that Massey play Lincoln if a film was to be made of his play. Studio records also note that actors Howard da Silva and Herbert Rudley reprised their stage roles for this film. Studio records add that Francis Ford was originally to have played the role of the stage driver. News items in HR note that the studio wanted to borrow Andrea Leeds from Samuel Goldwyn, possibly for the role of "Anne Rutledge," but she was not in the released film. The picture was shot on location on the MacKenzie River outside Eugene, OR. A news item in HR notes that Sherwood sued Twentieth-Century Fox for plagiarizing his play in Fox's 1939 film Young Mr. Lincoln . In an interview from a modern source, photographer James Wong Howe explained that in filming this picture, he lit faces by torchlight only, implemented by reflectors, which produced very soft shadows. Howe continued that he insisted upon bare sets.
       This film received the following Academy Award nominations: Best Actor (Raymond Massey) and Best Cinematography (James Wong Howe). Television versions of Sherwood's play were presented in 1950 on ABC's Pulitzer Prize Playhouse starring Raymond Massey; in 1951 on ... More Less

Studio records note that RKO paid $120,000 for Robert E. Sherwood's story. Raymond Massey also portrayed the role of Abraham Lincoln in Sherwood's Pulitzer Prize-winning stage production. According to studio publicity records, Sherwood wrote the play with Massey in mind. An article in LAEx adds that Sherwood refused to sell the rights of the play to Samuel Goldwyn because Goldwyn wanted to star Gary Cooper in the title role and Sherwood insisted that Massey play Lincoln if a film was to be made of his play. Studio records also note that actors Howard da Silva and Herbert Rudley reprised their stage roles for this film. Studio records add that Francis Ford was originally to have played the role of the stage driver. News items in HR note that the studio wanted to borrow Andrea Leeds from Samuel Goldwyn, possibly for the role of "Anne Rutledge," but she was not in the released film. The picture was shot on location on the MacKenzie River outside Eugene, OR. A news item in HR notes that Sherwood sued Twentieth-Century Fox for plagiarizing his play in Fox's 1939 film Young Mr. Lincoln . In an interview from a modern source, photographer James Wong Howe explained that in filming this picture, he lit faces by torchlight only, implemented by reflectors, which produced very soft shadows. Howe continued that he insisted upon bare sets.
       This film received the following Academy Award nominations: Best Actor (Raymond Massey) and Best Cinematography (James Wong Howe). Television versions of Sherwood's play were presented in 1950 on ABC's Pulitzer Prize Playhouse starring Raymond Massey; in 1951 on CBS's Video Theater , also starring Massey; and in 1964 on NBC's Hallmark Hall of Fame starring Jason Robards, Jr. The film was also included in FD 's ten best list for 1940. For more information on other films about Abraham Lincoln, see listing for Young Mr. Lincoln (below). More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
19 Jan 40
p. 3.
Film Daily
17 Jan 40
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Jul 39
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Jul 39
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Dec 39
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Jan 40
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Jan 40
p. 6.
Los Angeles Examiner
28 Jan 1939.
---
Motion Picture Daily
19 Jan 40
p. 1, 3
Motion Picture Herald
16 Sep 39
p. 62.
Motion Picture Herald
27 Jan 40
pp. 50-52.
New York Times
23 Feb 40
p. 19.
Variety
24 Jan 40
p. 14.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Roger Imhoff
Ed Fielding
Dan Clark
Milt Kibbee
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
PRODUCER
Prod
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
2d cam
Asst cam
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir assoc
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Ladies ward
1st ward man
2nd ward man
Raymond Massey's wardrobe
MUSIC
Mus score
SOUND
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Montage
DANCE
Dance dir
PRODUCTION MISC
Unit mgr
Scr clerk
Scr clerk
Location mgr
Casting dir
Sound stage mgr
Publicity
STAND INS
Stand-in for Raymond Massey
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the play Abe Lincoln in Illinois by Robert E. Sherwood (New York, 15 Oct 1938).
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Spirit of the People
Release Date:
19 April 1940
Premiere Information:
World premiere in Washington, D.C.: 22 January 1940
Production Date:
7 August--29 September 1939
Copyright Claimant:
RKO Radio Pictures, inc.
Copyright Date:
22 January 1940
Copyright Number:
LP9486
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Victor System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
110
Length(in feet):
9,873
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
5619
SYNOPSIS

In 1831, young Abe Lincoln leaves his father's log cabin to make his way in the world. On his journey to New Orleans to deliver a load of pigs, Abe meets Ann Rutledge in New Salem, Illinois. His delivery completed, Abe returns to New Salem, where he enters into a small business with storekeeper Denton Offut, falls in love with Ann and wins the respect and friendship of the townspeople. Abe is so well liked that Ninian Edwards of the Whig Party comes to town to convince him to run for State Assembly. Abe accepts the challenge, but his victory is overshadowed by Ann's death, and haunted by a sense of doom and lack of ambition, he leaves the legislature after his first term to return to the law. A fateful meeting with Mary Todd, an ambitious, driven woman, however, changes the course of Abe's life for Mary is determined to force Abe to fulfill his destiny. Mary's determination drives Abe away, because he realizes that entering politics and taking a stand on slavery will mean the dissolution of the Union. However, after a visit to New Salem, Abe returns, ready to accept Mary and her sense of purpose. They are married, and several years later, when the tension between North and South reaches a danger point, Abe runs against his old opponent, the well-known and established Stephen Douglas. In a series of electrifying debates, Abe is catapulted into the national consciousness. Knowing that his election to president will mean the secession of the South, Abe resolutely accepts his victory and leaves for Washington, bidding his cheering friends and home in Illinois ... +


In 1831, young Abe Lincoln leaves his father's log cabin to make his way in the world. On his journey to New Orleans to deliver a load of pigs, Abe meets Ann Rutledge in New Salem, Illinois. His delivery completed, Abe returns to New Salem, where he enters into a small business with storekeeper Denton Offut, falls in love with Ann and wins the respect and friendship of the townspeople. Abe is so well liked that Ninian Edwards of the Whig Party comes to town to convince him to run for State Assembly. Abe accepts the challenge, but his victory is overshadowed by Ann's death, and haunted by a sense of doom and lack of ambition, he leaves the legislature after his first term to return to the law. A fateful meeting with Mary Todd, an ambitious, driven woman, however, changes the course of Abe's life for Mary is determined to force Abe to fulfill his destiny. Mary's determination drives Abe away, because he realizes that entering politics and taking a stand on slavery will mean the dissolution of the Union. However, after a visit to New Salem, Abe returns, ready to accept Mary and her sense of purpose. They are married, and several years later, when the tension between North and South reaches a danger point, Abe runs against his old opponent, the well-known and established Stephen Douglas. In a series of electrifying debates, Abe is catapulted into the national consciousness. Knowing that his election to president will mean the secession of the South, Abe resolutely accepts his victory and leaves for Washington, bidding his cheering friends and home in Illinois farewell, never to return again. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.