Henry Fonda didn’t resemble Abraham Lincoln, but in his folksy mannerisms and stump speech oratory, he conjures up well the spirit of Lincoln the prairie lawyer in John Ford’s Young Mr. Lincoln (1939). Fonda didn’t want to take the role at first, feeling himself inadequate to play the Great Emancipator. Ford called him up, and in a profanity laced tirade told Fonda that he would not be portraying President Lincoln, but rather Lincoln as a wet behind the ears attorney. Fonda took the role.
Four years later, Fonda would star in the great anti-lynching movie, The Ox Bow Incident (1943):