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Abe Lincoln of the Ninth Avenue (April 12, 1939)

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Jackie Cooper in Abe Lincoln of the Ninth Avenue
 

Released on April 12, 1939: (running time 64 minutes) A street tough teen with a gangster brother in New York emulates the spirit of Abraham Lincoln as Christmas nears.

Produced by Scott R. Dunlap and William T. Lackey

Directed by William Nigh

The Actors: Jackie Cooper (James Michael 'Jimmmy' Keenan), Martin Spellman (William McKinley 'Gimpy' Smith), Marjorie Reynolds (Anne Carroll), Dick Purcell (T.P. 'Tap' Keenan), George Cleveland (Pop O'Toole), George Irving (Judge Carroll), Robert Emmett O'Connor (Police Officer Burke), Sidney Miller (Jiggsy, newsboy), David Durand (Spike Morgan), Buddy Pepper (Flatfoot, newsboy), William Gould (unknown), William Bucker (Sammy, newsboy), Byron Foulger (accused 'murderer' in law classroom), Jack Gordon (street policeman), Robert Emmett Keane (Roger Wilson, teacher), Jack Kennedy (Police Sergeant), Donald Kerr (newspaper distributor), Lillian Randolph (the Judge's maid), Kent Rogers (unknown), Bobby Stone (Beansy, newsboy), Robert Tucker (Spike's Pal), Frank Yaconelli (flower vendor)

 
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Believing in Abraham Lincoln and Santa Clause

It is Christmas time, and we once again must discover if there is a Santa Claus for little crippled William McKinley ‘Gimpy’ Smith. President William McKinley was born about a mile from where I currently live, in Niles, Ohio. But this movie is about Jimmy Keenan, who reads about and tries to emulate Abraham Lincoln while living on the tough streets of New York.

I am told that Albert Einstein once said that the most important question that mankind can ever answer is: “Is this a friendly universe?” His implied answer was in the same vein as the Henry Ford comment, “If you believe that you can do something, or that you cannot, . . . either way you are correct.” So, if you believe that you are in a friendly universe, and good things will happen to you, or if you believe that you are in a universe that will kick you down any chance it gets, . . . either way . . . you are correct. Your life becomes whatever you believe it will become. You will become tomorrow what you believe today, and as a result of the actions that you take today because of that belief. Only you are responsible for who you are today, and who you will be tomorrow. Not the government, not your neighbors, not your mate, not your parents - only you will decide who you will be today, and who you will be tomorrow. Tomorrow’s financial wealth, physical health, and the joy of many friends that love you, as you love them, is all dependent on what you ‘think’ and ‘believe’ and ‘do’ today.

This movie is more than a Christmas Eve story that will bring tears to your eyes and joy to your heart - it is an answer to Albert Einstein’s question in an elegant and magnificent manner. Jackie Cooper plays the part of Jimmy Keenan. His older brother is a famous and wealthy gangster. Jimmy runs a newspaper stand, and reads all about Abraham Lincoln. Can a boy from Ninth Street in New York City in 1939 believe and act like the best parts of Abraham Lincoln and not get killed? Will his gangster brother corrupt him or defeat him? No, that is the wrong question. Not ‘will’ the gangster corrupt him, but ‘can’ his gangster brother corrupt him. And it all depends on Jimmy’s beliefs and actions . . . . Jimmy is in control. It is not up to the mean streets of the big city . . . it is not up to the gangsters surrounding his universe . . . it is not up to the disasters that impact his life . . . it all depends on what Jimmy ‘believes’ this Christmas. Pop a big bowl of white kernel popcorn with plenty of warm melted butter drizzled over it and enjoy the show.