Young Mr. Lincoln

Henry Fonda stars in this 1939 chestnut from John Ford. It's a paradigmatic Hollywood biopic about a paradigmatic president. Far from Washington, far from any city in fact, we follow a "young jackass lawyer" (as Ford called him) struggling with his early legal career, family losses, and romantic setbacks. It's not so much a portrait of future greatness as present constancy. Fonda makes Lincoln a man of quiet, shy decency, a struggler and striver, not someone wearing a halo.

Contrast that, if you will, with our candidates today. (NR) BRIAN MILLER

Oct. 27-30, 7 p.m., 2008

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