The popularity of our nation’s 16th President, Abraham Lincoln, seems to be at an all-time high. Just within the last year and a half we have had movies such as Robert Redford‘s The Conspirator, the low-budget Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies, and last week’s Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. If that isn’t enough, Steven Spielberg‘s anticipated Lincoln will finally hit theaters this December. For those looking for patriotic movie picks for this fourth of July week, let’s go back and look at a few of President Lincoln’s numerous appearances on screen, the good and the bad.
Young Mr. Lincoln (1939)
Directed by the legendary John Ford, this 1939 classic chronicles Lincoln’s early years in law. In a wonderfully understated performance, Henry Fonda portrays Lincoln as many of us envision him, a wise, yet eternally humble, man of the people. Despite a slow pace and numerous historical inaccuracies, it is a powerful and revealing portrait of our nation’s 16th President.
Star Trek: The Savage Curtain (1969)
In this third season episode of the original series, Honest Abe joins forces with Captain Kirk and Spock in a battle of wits on the planet Excalbia. Between Lincoln’s supreme intellect and Kirk’s Titanic-sized ego, the duo make a laughably formidable team. The corny nostalgia of Star Trek only seems to grow with each passing year and there is much to love here.
Police Squad! (1982)
Starring Leslie Nielsen, this hilarious yet criminally short-lived series led to the creation of The Naked Gun films. The opening titles feature each of the show’s stars surviving an assassination attempt in wildly comedic fashion. Among them is Abraham Lincoln, portrayed by Rex Hamilton. After getting his top hat shot off, Lincoln springs up and blows John Wilkes Booth away with a modern day revolver. Is it tasteless and offensive? You bet. That didn’t stop us from laughing.
Fourscore and seven minutes ago… we, your forefathers, were brought forth upon a most excellent adventure conceived by our new friends, Bill… and Ted. These two great gentlemen are dedicated to a proposition which was true in my time, just as it’s true today. Be excellent to each other. And… PARTY ON, DUDES!
National Treasure: Book of Secrets (2007)
The Lincoln assassination plays a pivotal role in this noisy, cluttered, and amazingly dull action adventure. All you can do is shake your head in disgust watching talented actors like Helen Mirren, Ed Harris, and Harvey Keitel collect their paychecks.
The Conspirator (2011)
Who would have thought that a film about the chaos which followed Abraham Lincoln’s assassination could be so hollow? While the talented cast dig into their roles with gusto, the whole production gets weighed down by a hammy screenplay and static visuals. Even sadder is the fact that this is one of Robert Redford’s better directorial efforts.
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012)
This grisly but visually stimulating adventure shows Abraham Lincoln as a vampire-slaying, superhuman . As long as you turn off your brain, it is good for an occasional laugh and thrill. Unfortunately, the film takes itself far too seriously which only highlights the absurdity of it all. If you are going to bastardize history, at least have some fun with it.
Did we miss a Lincoln performance you love?