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(aka "Spirit of the People" )


directed by John Cromwell
USA 19

Among the most masterful matchups of actor and role in screen history is this stirring film of Robert E. Sherwood's beloved play taking a thoroughly human look at the early years of our 16th President, with all his frailties and strength of character. Best Actor Oscar? nominee* Raymond Massey (who originated the role on stage) wonderfully plays the future Great Emancipator in a chronicle of his backwoods childhood through his first romance with Ann Rutledge (Mary Howard) to his phenomenal rise to President Elect, besting the great orator Stephen Douglas (Gene Lockhart). Ruth Gordon also does memorable work as driven, ambitious Mary Todd Lincoln, whose vision of Abe's leadership destiny will not be denied by anyone - including her often reticent husband. There's also no denying the enduring emotional power of this simple, magnificent movie.


Theatrical Release: January 22nd, 1940

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DVD Review: Warner Home Video (Warner Archive Collection) - Region 0 - NTSC

DVD Box Cover

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Warner Home Video

Region 0 - NTSC

Runtime 1:49:44

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.5 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.


Audio Dolby Digital 1.0 (English)
Subtitles None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Warner Home Video

Aspect Ratio:
Original - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• None

DVD Release Date: March 23rd, 2009
Keep Case

Chapters 11



This a is a very good bio-pic - predictably dramatized to the hilt but Ray Massey was fabulous as Honest Abe. All that homespun, Kentucky woodsman, charm is at its zenith and it turns out to be an extremely entertaining flic.

It's standard single-layered and unfortunately interlaced (see last capture) - in the original 1.33:1 aspect ratio. This is one of Warner's earlier made-on-demand discs - and they have improved since 2009. the film is muddier in the beginning but improves as the film runs along. There are hints of boosting. The transfer is disappointing considering how good the film is. Abe Lincoln in Illinois certainly deserves better.

The mono sound is a bit cryptic at times but discernable and there are no subtitles offered. The are no supplement at all.

Not much more to say - this is somewhat of a classic and we can only hope a superior rendering is on its way. I envision what Criterion did with Young Mr. Lincoln - a competent dual-layered transfer with viable extras. This is... lacking - to say the least.  

  - Gary Tooze



DVD Menu


Screen Captures

















  Combing from interlaced transfer


DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:


Warner Home Video

Region 0 - NTSC


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