>1776 Anyone wanting to celebrate Presidents' Day by watching a George Washington movie is in trouble. The TV miniseries with Barry Bostwick as our country's dear old dad isn't on videotape. George Washington Slept Here isn't available on tape either. Anyway, George wasn't even in that film; it was a 1942 Jack Benny comedy (and a funny one). GW has appeared as a minor character in such films as the dreadful 1985 epic Revolution, but 1776 may be the best bet for admirers of what Washington wrought. Based on Peter Stone's and Sherman Edwards' theatrical musical, it gets through the Revolution without Washington appearing, but some of his dispatches are read, at least. And Howard Da Silva (as Ben Franklin), Ken Howard (as Thomas Jefferson) and William Daniels (as John Adams) help create an entertaining, mildly educational experience. (RCA/Columbia)

ABE LINCOLN IN ILLINOIS

Lincoln, on the other hand, has been a relatively hot cinematic property. Raymond Massey portrayed the 16th President—in his prepresidential days—in this 1940 adaptation of Robert Sherwood's play. (Massey was an older Lincoln in 1962 in How the West Was Won.) Ruth Gordon is touching and—for those who remember her crotchety later life roles—surprisingly beautiful as Mary Todd. (Fox Hills)

YOUNG MR. LINCOLN Director John Ford celebrated American mythology throughout his film career but never more strikingly than in this tale of determination and integrity, with Henry Fonda as the gangling Illinois lawyer just starting on his road to Washington. (Key)

  • Contributors:
  • Scot Haller,
  • Ralph Novak.