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Hollywood and the Great DepressionAmerican Film, Politics and Society in the 1930s$
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Iwan Morgan and Philip John Davies

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780748699926

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748699926.001.0001

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John Ford’s Young Mr. Lincoln: A Popular Front Hero for the Late 1930s

John Ford’s Young Mr. Lincoln: A Popular Front Hero for the Late 1930s

(p.257) Chapter 13 John Ford’s Young Mr. Lincoln: A Popular Front Hero for the Late 1930s
Hollywood and the Great Depression

Iwan Morgan

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter locates John Ford’s 1939 movie, Young Mr Lincoln, in relation to his contemporary involvement with the Hollywood Popular Front collaboration of liberals and communists in support of social justice at home and anti-fascism abroad. Like many of the director’s film, it can be viewed at different levels in its exploration of history and myth, but Popular Front sentiments are fundamental to its holistic understanding. Its fictional representation of a youthful Abraham Lincoln’s successful defence of two brothers wrongly placed on a murder charge in 1837 Illinois is an allegory for current concerns. Ford’s presentation of him as a common man capable of greatness, concerned to ensure social justice for the oppressed, identifying emotionally with ordinary people without losing sight of their shortcomings, and possessing a strong sense of right and wrong resonated with the cause of American progressivism at home and abroad in this troubled era.

Keywords:   John Ford, Abraham Lincoln, Popular Front, Anti-Lynching, Social justice

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