I think I saw something like the last 1/2 or 2/3 of the movie, but I didn't see the opening scenes. It was in English, probably produced in the USA, and in color. I saw it on TV, somewhere around the mid-1990s, but I have no idea how old it was at the time. It had several funny moments, but I wouldn't call it "pure comedy." Family-friendly; no sexual themes or violence or foul language (not in the part I saw, anyway). In other words, if it was produced after the MPAA's ratings system went into effect in 1968, it may well have been rated G. (But for all I know, it might be older than that.)

Here's what I remember about characters and plot:

  1. The movie is set in some small town in the Northern portion of the United States around early 1861. In other words, in an area where Abraham Lincoln had carried the state in the recent Presidential Election of 1860, but I believe this story was taking place shortly before he was inaugurated to officially begin his Presidency, and definitely was happening before the bloodshed of the Civil War had begun.

  2. The leading man in this movie is a widowed father who lives in a house with his little girl (her first name may have been "Elizabeth") and an African-American woman who works for him as the cook or housekeeper. (I can't remember if her exact job title was mentioned in dialogue.)

  3. I think the scenes I missed may have established the idea that this was a fictionalized treatment of a historical incident in which a little girl wrote a letter to Abraham Lincoln (in 1860) suggesting he might look more impressive if he grew a beard. But I may be wrong -- perhaps she'd written him some other type of letter, without advising him to stop shaving?

  4. The scenes I missed also showed how a rumor got started around town that this little girl's father was an old friend of Mister Lincoln. (Perhaps because he'd sent a personal letter to her home in reply to her letter? But I'm not sure of details; when I started watching the film, the rumor was already all over town.)

  5. Because of the aforementioned rumor, some of the local politicians in this town (from the Republican Party, of course) have started talking about arranging for the leading man to take a more active role in local politics. They think he should be appointed the next local postmaster. They also want him to give a speech at some big event in the near future. He starts drafting out his speech.

  6. Eventually the leading man realizes why he's getting so much attention from the local politicians, and explains to one of them that he has never had the honor of even meeting Mister Lincoln, although he likes what the man says, and was glad to vote for him. The politician then accuses the leading man of having deceived him!

  7. Abraham Lincoln's train (the one taking him to Washington, D.C., perhaps?) is scheduled to make a quick stop at the town in question, whereupon the President-Elect is expected to shake hands with local dignitaries. Something goes wrong, mechanically speaking, and the train gets stuck a mile or two short of the station. After being told that it will probably take at least an hour or two to fix whatever's wrong, Lincoln looks across a field and decides that the home of the little girl is close enough for him to simply hike over there and introduce himself to her. So he does! At one point during his visit, Lincoln looks at a handwritten manuscript -- her father's first draft of the political speech he is supposed to give on a later date -- and comments that someone seems to have gone through and crossed out all the best parts. (Presumably meaning the parts that take strong, clear positions on controversial issues, and thus might disturb some members of the intended audience.) The little girl says that would be the advice of Mister (Whomever), one of the local politicians, and Lincoln suggests that her father should learn to stand on his own two feet.

  8. The leading man is not home. (He and a bunch of other men are, I believe, anxiously waiting down at the train station.) Once Lincoln has returned to his train, and it's been fixed, they are running so far behind schedule that the train just zooms right past this station without making the previously-announced stop. The local dignitaries are offended. The leading man returns home and, at first, thinks his little girl is being fanciful when she tells him that Abraham Lincoln dropped in for tea. (I think the housekeeper sets him straight on that.)

  9. It looks like the leading man's budding political career will get off to a good start, after all. His little girl tells him about President Lincoln's reaction to the written speech with all the best parts crossed out. She mangles it slightly -- she says Lincoln thinks her father shouldn't stand on Mister (Whomever's) feet -- but her father gets the general drift. Also, one of the local politicians manages to catch up with Lincoln's train at another town some miles down the line, and Lincoln puts in a good word for the leading man as a good choice for the new postmaster in that town. (Even though he still has never met the man, but he doesn't mention that part!)

There have been a great number of films about Lincoln; I have no idea which one this was. Any suggestions?

  • Not that I'm not grateful for the extremely high quality of your ID Qs, but it's amazing(ly unfortunate) that you can remember all that but not the title... ;) Well done, anyway. – Walt Jan 23 '17 at 11:30
  • Please remember: I never saw the opening credits of the movie, so that might have something to do with why I don't remember the title, since I never saw it pop up before my eyes in huge letters . . . – Lorendiac Jan 24 '17 at 1:09

Sounds like the 70s TV movie The Great Man's Whiskers. From an online synopsis:

In this comedy-drama, a ten-year-old girl [Elizabeth] writes a letter to President Abraham Lincoln urging him to grow a beard and he temporarily abandons his inaugural tour to pay her a visit. Originally filmed in 1969, this made-for-TV movie remained unreleased until NBC aired it in 1974. The Great Man's Whiskers was inspired by the story of Grace Bedell, who wrote Lincoln just before his election to the presidency in 1860. Dennis Weaver appears as Lincoln primarily in the final quarter of the film.

The above link also contains some screen caps; here's one of them with the girl and Lincoln:

enter image description here

  • Yup, that sure sounds like it. Can't swear I remember the faces of the actors in that screenshot (or the others, when I followed the link) well enough to recognize 'em, but I'm accepting this as the right answer. – Lorendiac Jan 24 '17 at 1:09

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