Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Young Mister Lincoln


John Ford had to convince Henry Fonda to take this part by dressing him up as Lincoln, and by golly, once he puts on that stovepipe hat, he really, really looks the part. It is comical to see him riding into town astraddle a mule, his boots almost dragging the ground. (He wore special lifts in his boots to make him look even taller, and he towers over everyone else in the picture except Ward Bond.) The climax of the picture is a trial of two brothers accused of killing a deputy sheriff, and Fonda really dominates every scene just by sitting there with his boots propped up on a table. In a raucous room, he is the calm center, unruffled, articulate and folksy at the same time. We will never know exactly what Abe was like, but I fancy it was a lot like this. With Daniel Day Lewis, this has to be one of the two best portrayals of the great man ever done.