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Abe Lincoln in film: From Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure to Daniel Day-Lewis By Richard Crouse Metro Canada In Focus Wednesday November 7, 2012

-lincoln-poster-reveals-daniel-day-lewis-s-eerie-resemblance-be5332adecMark S. Reinhart, author of Abraham Lincoln on Screen claims the 16th President of the United States, “is the most frequently portrayed American historical figure in the history of the film and television arts.”

Portrayed over 300 times on film and TV, Honest Abe has done everything from pardon a sentry who fell asleep on duty in the 1908 short film The Reprieve: An Episode in the Life of Abraham Lincoln, to getting revenge on his assassin in Police Squad to teaming up with Star Trek’s Captain Kirk to explain the concepts of good and evil to the aliens of Excalbia.

In this weekend’s Abraham Lincoln, starring Daniel Day Lewis, the prez oversees the passing of the 13th Amendment, guaranteeing freedom for the country’s slaves and ending the Civil War.

Day-Lewis is a lock for an Oscar nomination, and a favorite to win, but his portrayal stands in the shadow of two movie legends.

Henry Fonda played the title character in Young Mr. Lincoln, a melodramatic and inaccurate chronicle of Abe’s formative years. Wearing specially made boots that made him appear taller, Fonda was honored to play the pres. “I felt as if I were portraying Christ himself on film,” he said.

Canadian-born Raymond Massey, played Lincoln multiple times on stage and film. He was so attached to the character a colleague joked that Massey wouldn’t be satisfied with his Lincoln impression until someone assassinated him.

For a certain generation, however, Lincoln might be best remembered for a speech that began with, “Fourscore and seven minutes ago…” and ended with, “PARTY ON, DUDES!” But Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure isn’t the only movie to take a light-hearted look at the Great Emancipator.

In Coneheads Dan Aykroyd’s character uses Abe’s famous stovepipe top hat to cover his oblong head. One of Brendan Fraser’s seven wishes in Bedazzled is to be president but he soon learns to be careful what he wishes for when he is zapped back into history as Lincoln watching a play at Ford’s Theatre. Abe also gets a laugh in Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian when the Lincoln Memorial comes to life.

Perhaps the strangest portrayal came earlier this year. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is exactly as advertised, leading one critic to call it, “a funny, scary, and cheer-worthy adventure that somehow manages to make the 16th President of the United States a bad-ass action hero.”

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