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Abraham Lincoln

USA 1930
produced by
D.W. Griffith, Joseph M. Schenck (executive) for Feature Productions/United Artists
directed by D.W. Griffith
starring Walter Huston, Una Merkel, Kay Hammond, E. Alyn Warren, Ian Keith, Frank Campeau, Hobart Bosworth, Oscar Apfel, William L. Thorne, Lucille La Verne, Helen Freeman, Otto Hoffman, Edgar Dearing, Helen Ware, Jason Robards sr, Gordon Thorpe, Cameron Prud'Homme, James Bradbury sr, Henry B. Walthall, Russell Simpson, Charles Crockett, James Eagles
screenplay by Stephen Vincent Benet, Gerrit J. Lloyd, based on a story by John W. Considine jr

Abraham Lincoln, John Wilkes Booth

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Abraham Lincoln is born in a log cabin in 1809, becomes an at best mildly successful businessman once grown up, and while he's peace-loving in general, he can stand his man should need arise. Lincoln has higher aspirations though, and he studies to be a lawyer, en route falling in love with his tutor Ann (Una Merkel), who died though before they could ever get married.

Eventually, Lincoln meets Mary Todd (Kay Hammond), a woman he should soon marry, and who becomes the driving force behind his political aspirations. Lincoln runs for senate eventually in Illinois, but due to his insistance on ending slavery and preserving the union of the United States, he loses out against Senator Douglas (E. Alyn Warren), once one of Mary's suitors. But because of his speeches for preserving the Union, he is soon sent into election for presidency on the Republican ticket - and wins. But his election led to the secession of the South and the Civil War - which the Union seemed to lose for quite a while, until Lincoln appoints war hero General Grant (E. Alyn Warren again for some reason) Commander General, and thanks to his unorthodox tactics and the heroism of General Sheridan (Frank Campeau).

The war is won eventually, and Lincoln also wins his reelection, basically due to his leniency towards the former enemy, and probably also the fact that his actions did not crush the nation after all. But there are some who can't get over the fact that Lincoln has done what he has done, first and foremost John Wilkes Booth (Ian Keith), a mildly talented actor, who uses his contacts to the theatre Lincoln spends a fateful evening in 1865 in to get close enough to the president to shoot him dead ...

 

A film that is well enough made thanks to elegant camerawork (however limited due to 1930's technology), carefully laid out shots, and a pretty good cast (first and foremost the dependable Walter Huston in the title role) ... and at the same time, it's a very dull film, because basically on a narrative level it absolutely lacks build-up, fails to explain political backgrounds of pretty much everything (e.g. no more than two fleeting remarks about slavery, no explanation whatsoever would be so bad about secession, ...), the Civil War utterly lacks excitement, and the peace comes about after the victory of the North with no explanation at all. And on top of that, the characters, though greatly portrayed, uniformly lack depth: Lincoln the man remains a mystery to the audience throughout, while his wife seems to adopt and drop character traits rather at will, and no other characters are given enough screentime to be anything but decoration.

I have to admit, quite a disappointment, actually.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD