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Young Mr Lincoln


lzcutter
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I caught this one last night on TCM and it had been years.

 

I marveled at how in the beginning Ford and the cinematographer went to great lengths to make Fonda resemble photos of Lincoln, down to the shadows around his eyes.

 

Also, it looked like Fonda likely had a false nose to look more like Abe. At one point in the courtroom scenes I realized that the furniture was all off scale to make Fonda seem taller. Plus the ill-fitting clothes helped Fonda to appear taller and more gangly than he was.

 

I also noted that every Ford film seems to have an orator who goes to great lengths to show us how educated an speaker he is all the while sounding like a windbag.

 

But mostly, I loved the music, Ann's theme, that Ford re-used in Liberty Valance.

 

The music here is used to highlight the deep, abiding love that Lincoln had for his lost love, Ann Rutledge. If Ford had made a sequel, Lincoln would marry Mary Todd but would always be haunted by his lost love.

 

Ford uses it again as the Cactus Rose theme in Liberty Valance, playing usually over scenes that center around Tom and Hallie.

 

Two different movies bound together by a musical theme that tells us something about the two similar couples in each film.

_________________

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Lynn:

 

That is an interesting point on the furniture size. I never would have thought of that. Fonda was a normal height. It's easy enough to do with the clothes. You just make everything short. Being thin helped too.

 

Your orator comment reminded me of Carradine in "Liberty Valance." A great deal of nothing that sounds like something.

 

I always enjoyed the little homespun wisdom thrown throughout the film. Too bad TCM couldn't show this and "Abe Lincoln In Illinois" together.

 

Chris

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Young Mr Lincoln is deep in my heart, I love this movie. The music is a big reason, too, just as it is in Liberty Valance.

I asked someone once about it, if it was original and was told the melody sounds like

"The Bluebells of Scotland". All I know is I would give anything to have it on cd or

downloaded to my Mp3 player. It moves me to tears every time I hear it!

 

 

hank-YoungMrLincoln.jpg

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I didn't notice the reduced size of the furniture, etc. in the early scene(s) but it is very apparent that there is a "forced perspective" to the set in the courthouse hallway scene that follows the end of the trial.

 

I have attributed this to a method of showing visually how the "stature" of Abe Lincoln has suddenly changed after that trial. He was now on the verge of becoming "larger than life" - or at least an exceptionally "large-in-character" person (or persona).

 

And I think use of that technique is brilliant.

 

Kyle In Hollywood

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I didn't notice the reduced size of the furniture,>>

 

Kyle,

 

I noticed it in the courtroom scenes. The tables and chairs especially. When Fonda walked by them on his way to address the jury or a witness, I remarked to Mr Cutter that the furniture seemed off scale.

 

He concurred and I realized that it was done to make Fonda appear taller.

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Ford used music better than any director ever has. There's a piece in THE SEARCHERS that also serves as background for THE HORSE SOLDIERS. That pretty violin music. Simlarly, Howard Hawks used the same music for RED RIVER and RIO BRAVO. Different words. Same melody.

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If they modified the furniture to make Henry Fonda taller then it would have been a bit overkill.

 

Henry Fonda was 6' 1/2" tall and Abraham Lincoln was 6' 4" tall. Lincoln was simply our tallest president (and more influencial).

 

Lincoln was very slim and it made his height looked more than it actually was. Henry Fonda would have only needed to wear "lifts" to get very close to Abraham Lincolns true height.

 

Lincolns stovepipe hat also added to the illusion - see this photo : http://www.old-picture.com/defining-moments/Abraham-Lincoln-Antietam.htm

 

Hope this bit of trivia information helps.

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Thanks for the great education, folks, and that great pix, BG. I received the DVD when it was released recently, and enjoyed it greatly. I've seen the picture a few times over the years, but never noticed the size-perspectives that were attempted. I've learned to watch for camera levels (often shoulder height or lower) to give the illusion of tallness or height.

 

I too noticed the "windbag" narration. I think the attempts at haughtiness, adding a bit of 'echo' to the speaker's voice, is some audio-attempt at grandness-making.

 

And I'm chuckling about the Carradine comment in LIBERTY VALANCE. I know Carradine's character is worthy of boos and hisses, but John does that SO well. It's like TV Wrestling sometimes - "it's just a script, and some of them do it so much better than others." I don't know how Ford was able to draw out such high-calibre performances so often!

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