Like the N.Y. Times DVD guy Dave Kehr, Newsweek‘s Malcolm Jones is a huge fan of director John Ford, and particularly the Criterion Collection’s recently released double-disc DVD of Ford’s Young Mr. Lincoln (1939). I love his earlier stuff (The Informer , especially, and I still love Drums Along the Mohawk as much as I did when I was 12) and I’ll never cool down on The Horse Soldiers and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, but let’s face it — Ford’s Irish Catholic sentimentality seems to get thicker every year. Those films that are heavily covered in the stuff haven’t aged well…sentimentality never does. Ford’s movies “are a little antique, a little prim,” Jones admits. “Still…he made movies for everyone, although not in the dumbed-down sense in which we understand that today. The best Ford movies…are things a child can appreciate, and there are deeply contradictory elements that engage the wisest observer. His genius — and it took a genius to do this — was to put all these things in the same picture. Somehow he makes it all hang together.” So what the hell, I went out and actually bought the Young Mr. Lincoln DVD for $33 bucks and change because Kehr and Jones, no slouches in the persuasive-prose department, made it sound good enough to eat. Kehr actually called it “one of the highest accomplishments of American film.” It’s not quite that, I’m afraid. It’s just a solid, sturdy, well-crafted piece of homespun Americana, not without intrigue and complexity here and there but deep down just another Irish spitoon-and-bar-stool movie. The best thing about it is Henry Fonda‘s modest, just-right performance as Abraham Lincoln when he was a cagey and crafty attorney practicing in Springfield, Illinois. Of course, watching Fonda made me think again of Liam Neeson‘s commitment to play Lincoln in that Steven Spielberg film about his presidency …except that Spielberg is reportedly in a lazy-ass mode, taking a year off and “working” on the Lincoln film in between naps and slurps of soup. Anyway, I found this amazing colorized photo of Lincoln this morning. Amazing because it seems exactly like a 142 year-old color photo might look if photographers worked with color plates in 1864 and some archivist had come along and found it and touched it up.