Blu-ray Review

Blu-ray Review: YOUNG MR. LINCOLN (1939): A Fictionalized, yet Powerful Drama

Young Mr. Lincoln Blu-ray Review

Young Mr. Lincoln (1939) Blu-Ray Review, a movie directed by John Ford, starring Henry Fonda, Alice Brady, Donald Meek, and Marjorie Weaver.

Release Date: June 9, 1939


“A fictionalized account of the early life of the American president as a young lawyer facing his greatest court case.”

Disc Specifications

Run Time: 100 Minutes

Format: Blu-Ray

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1

Language: English (LCPM 1.0 Audio)

Subtitles: English (SDH)

Rating: Not Rated


Young Mr. Lincoln is presented on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion with an MPEG-4 AVC encoded 1080p transfer.  This new digital transfer was created from a 4K scan of the original 35mm print.  The image is stable, and the gorgeous Black & White cinematography has never looked better, with amazing detail in both close-up and wide shots.


Young Mr. Lincoln is presented with only one audio track, English LPCM 1.0. Optional English SDH subtitles are provided for the main feature.  The dynamic intensity is also as good as one can expect a film of this caliber and age to have.  The film is dialogue-heavy, and all of it is crisp and audible.

Blu-Ray Bonus Content

Audio Commentary – New commentary featuring film scholar Joseph McBride (Searching for John Ford: A Life).

Omnibus: “John Ford,” part one – A very informative look at the life and filmography of director John Ford.

Talk show appearance by actor Henry Fonda – 1975 interview.

Audio Interviews – Interviews with both Ford and Fonda from the 1970’s by the director’s grandson, Dan Ford.

Leaflet – Included with the Blu-ray is critic Geoffrey O’Brien’s essay “Hero In Waiting”.

Film Review

Out of all the US presidents, it’s the 16th President Abraham Lincoln that’s known as the best of the best. His fight to preserve the Union and the elimination of slavery appeals to about every American. Due to Lincoln’s popularity and importance in history, Lincoln has been subject to plenty of film adaptations over the years, and while the story is in fact mostly fictionalized, the great thing is, with a story detailing the man who would become the greatest president of all-time, I found Young Mr. Lincoln to be a brilliant drama filled with emotions and inspiration.

Before he became President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln (Henry Fonda) was a simple, down-to-earth country boy who becomes a lawyer in Springfield, Illinois.  Lincoln’s honesty is put to the test when he defends two young men accused of murder. Despite his youth and inexperience, Lincoln is dedicated to winning this case.  The case, however, is a work of complete fiction. Many of the pivotal people in Lincoln’s life appear in the film, including the future First Lady, Mary Todd (Marjorie Weaver). The narrative plays up Lincoln’s gifts as a no-nonsense communicator, both as a public and private man. Ford and Fonda were interested in examining the character traits that would one day make Lincoln a great President, regardless of whether the scenes they used to do it actually occurred in real life.

In the films of Hollywood, particularly films about famous people, the majority is not entirely historically accurate. In the case of Young Mr. Lincoln, the story is definitely fictionalized, though in real life, Lincoln was originally a lawyer before be became president. Despite the mostly fictional story, John Ford’s direction and the incredible depth made in the film makes Young Mr. Lincoln another winner from one of the greatest directors who ever lived.

John Ford was an incredible filmmaker, with some of his best films include The Searchers, The Grapes of Wrath, and Stagecoach. Both Stagecoach and this were released in what is considered one of the greatest years in all of film, 1939.  This and Stagecoach put Ford on the map, and both deserve a place in film history.  Like with any great film, Ford creates a suspenseful atmosphere that makes an incredible experience.  Abraham Lincoln was one of the greatest political leaders in the history of America, and while the story here in mostly a fictional account, Henry Fonda’s stellar performance of Honest Abe and John Ford’s excellent direction makes Young Mr. Lincoln a must see for any fans of classic Hollywood cinema.

Rating Young Mr. Lincoln: 8/10

Disc Acquisition

You can purchase Young Mr. Lincoln here.

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About the author

Kyle Steininger

Born and raised in Chicago, Kyle has loved movies ever since his father took him to the theater to watch Home Alone. Since then, he has developed a passion for films and everything about them from watching endless DVD extras, interviews with cast/crew, and attending screenings of older films when available. Some of his favorite directors include Kubrick, Fellini, Scorsese, Tarantino, Leone, and Nolan.

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