Abraham Lincoln, also released under the title D. W. Griffith’s ‘Abraham Lincoln’, is a (1930) biographical film about American president Abraham Lincoln directed by D. W. Griffith. It stars Walter Huston as Lincoln and Una Merkel, in her second speaking role, as Ann Rutledge. Her first speaking role was in a short film, Love’s Old Sweet Song (1923) filmed in the Phonofilm sound-on-film process.
The script was co-written by Stephen Vincent Benét, author of the Civil War prose poem John Brown’s Body. This was the first of only two sound films made by Griffith. The film was not a hit at the time, but in recent years it has come to be regarded as one of the definitive films on Lincoln.
The first act of the film covers Lincoln’s early life as a storekeeper and rail-splitter in New Salem and his early romance with Ann Rutledge, and his early years as a lawyer and his courtship and marriage to Mary Todd in Springfield. The majority of the film deals with Lincoln’s presidency during the Civil War and culminates with Lee’s surrender and Lincoln’s assassination at Ford’s Theater.
The film covers some little known aspects of Lincoln’s early life, such as his romance with Ann Rutledge, his depression and feared suicidal tendencies after her death, and his unexplained breaking off of his engagement with Mary Todd (although the film surmises that this was due to unresolved feelings over Ann Rutledge and adds a dramatic scene where Lincoln stands Mary up on their scheduled wedding day, which never happened).
Directed by D W Griffith
Produced by D W Griffith, Joseph M Schenck
Written by Stephen Vincent Benet, John W Considine Jr, Gerrit J Lloyd
Starring Walter Huston, Una Merkel, William L Thorne
Music by Hugo Riesenfeld
Cinematography Karl Struss
Distributed by United Artists
Release dates November 8, 1930
Running time 97 minutes
Country United States