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Abe Lincoln in Illinois Details


Raymond Massey plays Abe Lincoln in this moving adaptation of Robert Sherwood's Pulitzer Prize-winning play. Expanded a bit for cinematic purposes, the film traces Lincoln's progress from his days of scrambling for a living as a woodsman, to his courtship of the tragic Ann Rutledge (Mary Howard) and then the mercurial Mary Todd (Ruth Gordon), to the formative years of his law practice, to his debates with Stephen Douglas (Gene Lockhart), and finally to his election as President of the soon-to-be-divided United States in 1860. Latter-day critics have complained about Massey's stolidity in his signature role, but even the most stone-hearted viewer will be moved by such scenes as Lincoln riding through the ruins of what once was the village of Salem; Abe's heated election-eve quarrel with his spiteful wife Mary; and his climactic speech from the observation car of the train that will carry him to Washington...and immortality. Abe Lincoln at Illinois turned out to be a succes d'estime for its producer Max Gordon and its studio (RKO), taking a bath to the tune of $750,000. Its failure moved one Hollywood wise-guy to collar Gordon at a party and say, "I can't understand it, Max. Lincoln was so kind to everybody but you." ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

  • Release date:February 12, 1940


Awarded by
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences James Wong Howe Best Black and White Cinematography 1940 Nominee
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Raymond Massey Best Actor 1940 Nominee


Raymond Massey
as Abraham Lincoln
Ruth Gordon
as Mary Todd Lincoln
Gene Lockhart
as Stephen Douglas
Dorothy Tree
as Elizabeth Edwards
Harvey Stephens
as Ninian Edwards
Minor Watson
as Joshua Speed
Alan Baxter
as Billy Herndon
Howard Da Silva
as Jack Armstrong
Aldrich Bowker
as Judge Bowling Green
Maurice Murphy
as John McNeill
Louis Jean Heydt
as Mentor Graham
Clem Bevans
as Ben Battling
Harlan Briggs
as Denton Offut
Herbert Rudley
as Seth Gale
Andy Clyde
as Stage Driver
Roger Imhof
as Mr. Crimmin
Leona Roberts
as Mrs. Rutledge
Edmund Elton
as Mr. Rutledge
George Rosener
as Dr. Chandler
Fay Helm
as Mrs. Seth Gale
Sid Saylor
as John Johnston
Elizabeth Risdon
as Sarah Lincoln
Trevor Bardette
as John Hanks
Charles B. Middleton
as Tom Lincoln
Alec Craig
as Trem Cogdall
Peggy Ann Garner
as Little Girl
Napoleon Simpson
as Gobey
John Cromwell
as John Brown
Kate Reid
John Cromwell
as John Brown
Alec Craig
as Trem Cogdall
Napoleon Simpson
as Gobey
Peggy Ann Garner
as Little Girl
Charles B. Middleton
as Tom Lincoln
Trevor Bardette
as John Hanks


John Cromwell
Max Gordon
Grover Jones
James Wong Howe
Roy Webb
Composer (Music Score)
Carroll Clark
Art Director
Van Nest Polglase
Art Director
Casey Roberts
Set Designer
Walter Plunkett
Costume Designer
Vernon Walker
Special Effects
Dewey Starkey
First Assistant Director