The Howards of Virginia (1940)

Approved  |   |  Drama, History, War  |  19 September 1940 (USA)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 6.2/10 from 752 users  
Reviews: 18 user | 7 critic

Beautiful young Virginian Jane steps down from her proper aristocratic upbrining when she marries down-to-earth surveyor Matt Howard. Matt joins the Colonial forces in their fight for ... See full summary »



(screen play), (novel)
0Check in

On Disc

at Amazon

Nominated for 2 Oscars. See more awards »


Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

In Name Only (1939)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

While out riding in the country, wealthy New Yorker Alec Walker meets young widow Julie Eden, and a relationship quickly develops. However, Alec has not told her that he is already locked ... See full summary »

Director: John Cromwell
Stars: Cary Grant, Carole Lombard, Kay Francis
Certificate: Passed Adventure | Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

In pre-WW2 Europe, a woman notices that wherever her husband goes, the Nazis seem to follow. Meanwhile, a charming reporter is following them...

Director: Leo McCarey
Stars: Ginger Rogers, Cary Grant, Walter Slezak
Mr. Lucky (1943)
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A gambler has plans to swindle money from a charity program, but starts to have second thoughts when he falls for a rich society girl.

Director: H.C. Potter
Stars: Cary Grant, Laraine Day, Charles Bickford
Biography | Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

Notorious robber baron financier Jim Fisk, who makes and loses fortunes, tries to corner the gold market as well as the heart of a beautiful actress.

Directors: Rowland V. Lee, Alexander Hall
Stars: Edward Arnold, Cary Grant, Frances Farmer
Night and Day (1946)
Biography | Drama | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

The fictionalized biography of composer Cole Porter from his days at Yale in the 1910s through the height of his success to the 1940s. The film's attempted biography matches many public ... See full summary »

Director: Michael Curtiz
Stars: Cary Grant, Alexis Smith, Monty Woolley
Certificate: Passed Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

When an itinerant reluctantly returns home to help his sickly mother run her shop, they are both tempted to turn to crime to help make ends meet.

Director: Clifford Odets
Stars: Cary Grant, Ethel Barrymore, Barry Fitzgerald
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

An escaped prisoner and a stuffy law professor vie for the hand of a spirited schoolteacher.

Director: George Stevens
Stars: Cary Grant, Jean Arthur, Ronald Colman
Crisis (1950)
Certificate: Passed Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

Husband and wife Americans Dr. Eugene and Mrs. Helen Ferguson - he a renowned neurosurgeon - are traveling through Latin America for a vacation. When they make the decision to return to New... See full summary »

Director: Richard Brooks
Stars: Cary Grant, José Ferrer, Paula Raymond
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A fairly well-to-do family takes in 2 troubled orphans since no one else will take them.

Director: Norman Taurog
Stars: Cary Grant, Betsy Drake, Lurene Tuttle
Suzy (1936)
Certificate: Passed Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

American showgirl Suzy is in London in 1914. She loves Irish inventor Terry who works for an engineering firm owned by a German woman. After their marriage Terry is murdered and Suzy flees ... See full summary »

Director: George Fitzmaurice
Stars: Jean Harlow, Franchot Tone, Cary Grant
Comedy | Romance | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Captain Henri Rochard is a French officer assigned to work with Lieut. Catherine Gates. Through a wacky series of misadventures, they fall in love and marry. When the war ends, Capt. ... See full summary »

Director: Howard Hawks
Stars: Cary Grant, Ann Sheridan, Marion Marshall
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Missing for seven years and presumed dead, a woman returns home on the day of her husband's second marriage.

Director: Garson Kanin
Stars: Irene Dunne, Cary Grant, Randolph Scott


Cast overview, first billed only:
Jane Peyton-Howard
Fleetwood Peyton (as Sir Cedric Hardwicke)
Alan Marshal ...
Roger Peyton
Paul Kelly ...
Captain Jabez Allen
Irving Bacon ...
Tom Norton
Elisabeth Risdon ...
Aunt Clarissa (as Elizabeth Risdon)
Mrs. Norton
Tom Drake ...
James Howard at 16 (as Richard Alden)
Phil Taylor ...
Peyton Howard at 18
Rita Quigley ...
Mary Howard at 17
Libby Taylor ...
Richard Gaines ...


Beautiful young Virginian Jane steps down from her proper aristocratic upbrining when she marries down-to-earth surveyor Matt Howard. Matt joins the Colonial forces in their fight for freedom against England. Matt will meet Jane's father in the battlefield. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The Vivid Drama Of A Nation's Birth !


Drama | History | War


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

19 September 1940 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Pasión de libertad  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Cary Grant considered himself to be miscast. See more »


During a scene where Matt Howard (Cary Grant) is in his room shaving, with shaving soap on his face, and having a conversation with Thomas Jefferson (Richard Carlson) - A knock on the door is heard - Fleetwood Peyton (Sir Cedric Hardwicke) enters, Matt Howard turns to Fleetwood and the shaving soap has disappeared from his face. See more »


The Huntsman and His Master
Composer unknown
Performed by an unidentified male (piano and vocal)
Reprised a cappella by Cary Grant
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Not a documentary, but much more realism than Hollywood can capture today
4 July 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Sad that so many Cary Grant fans had their bubbles burst. It certainly was strange to see him play such a character, but did anyone have any problems with the actors who played the other backwoodsmen? Grant could not have played his dapper persona while being from the Shenandoah Valley, especially in scenes with those crude and embarrassing frontiersmen and women. They must have been extras. I doubt if that kind of acting is taught at UCLA or Princeton.

One reviewer was critical of the director because the irony of Matthew Howard turning into a kind of Fleetwood Peyton was not portrayed. But from early on in the movie, Tom Jefferson and Matt Howard thought it would be grand to develop the 1,000 acres in the Shenandoah Valley into a PLANTATION. That was the American Dream, to achieve success through hard work. Then it meant that the most successful planter had slaves and went to Congress. But Matt Howard didn't want to run at first, and when pressed said he would go if only to improve the roads and bridges and repeal the Stamp Act. He had no thoughts of aristocratic power unlike Fleetwood.

Anyone see John Wayne in The Searchers? Early in the film he wanted to murder his niece Natalie Wood because she was kidnapped and lived with the Redskins. He too was playing a character from an earlier time when there were other mores.

Talk about provincialism! It's thriving even today.

Collectivism versus individualism is being played out today on these movie reviews. Am I being too critical to suggest that those who are most critical of this move are doing so on political rather than on artistic grounds?

July 4, 2009

I watched the film again this year on TV. It's becoming an Independence Day (don't call it the 4th of July) classic, something like Jimmy Stewart's the 25th of December classic, "It's a Wonderful Life."

I can't answer all the other reviewers individually here. Basically, I suspect that the "Cary Grant as Matt Howard" detractors are either in love with the suave Cary Grant or are against the political principles of Matt Howard. His performance in the beginning as a backwoodsman was energetic and realistic. He pulled no punches. The depiction of his friends as toothless and illiterate, and his love and respect for them was outstanding. His speechifying at the conclusion, espousing the distinctly American virtues of freedom, self-reliance and industriousness, sounded heartfelt.

I don't know what Cary Grant felt later about the film, but the film is essential now both as a political debate and a period piece.

Read the reviews at the Cary Grant web site: some of them written when the film came out in 1940 when we were allied with England in WW II. Think about today's political climate, what with tea-partyers (the original Boston Tea party was referred to in the movie) and the current debate on levels of taxation and government controls (the Stamp Act was also a plot element in the movie).

Also, in case there's some doubt, Cary Grant wasn't always perfectly elegant. Early in his career he played a heavy. "In a string of films he had supporting parts, including the heavy who nearly destroys Marlene Dietrich in Blonde Venus 1932) and Mae West's foil in She Done Him Wrong (1933) and I'm No Angel (1933)."

Later in his career, after he had established his elegant style, he played in a couple less-than-exemplary roles, costarring with Jayne Mansfield in 1957 in "Kiss Them for Me" and playing a heartless swindler and a Cockney in 1943 in "Mr Lucky."

I don't see why he can't play against type in this patriotic film. Maybe he was still trying to establish his bona fides as an actor, or he could have believed in the principles of Matt Howard.

In support of the second theory, Cary Grant became an American citizen on June 26th, 1942. Might not he actually believed the lines he was reading because that is what they were teaching our naturalized citizens in those days?

July 4, 2010

10 of 15 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Peter Cushing chongajuly
Discuss The Howards of Virginia (1940) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: