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"Abraham Lincoln" (D.W. Griffith) 1930

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This film was to be D.W. Griffith's big comeback production, and it did very well for "the old master." In fact, it was chosen as number two of the Ten Best Pictures of 1930 by The Film Daily, just below "All Quiet On The Western Front!" Sadly, due to the horrible condition of the available prints of this film, no really fair analysis can be made today. As with so many early talkies, Abraham Lincoln is now a sickly shadow of what it was in 1930. To begin with, it's original running time is listed at approximately 96 minutes. The version presented on Laserdisc runs 83 minutes.The film shows signs of wear and duping. The soundtrack is horribly distorted and, in several scenes, seems to be missing totally, replaced by terrible music from a stock library. Even so, if one can look past these things and take the acting style in the context of its time, one can see that Griffith had not lost his flair and would have probably continued directing had the fates (and probably Hollywood) not conspired against him. There are wonderful cinematic moments, reminiscent of some of his earlier triumphs. This is a film that cries out for restoration but, alas, there is most likely little or nothing left to restore. UPDATE: In 2008, KINO International released a DVD version of Abraham Lincoln that is far more complete than the old Laserdisc I reviewed from in 1998. While some soundtrack from the Prologue is still missing, KINO has made up for it by adding subtitles for the missing dialogue. Also, the picture quality is far superior to anything else available. It is evident that much effort went into making this forgotten film much more watchable and available! Directed by D.W. Griffith. With Walter Huston, Una Merkel, William L. Thorne, Lucille La Verne.

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