6.2/10
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20 user 12 critic

The Howards of Virginia (1940)

Approved | | Drama, History, War | 19 September 1940 (USA)
Just prior to the American War of Independence, aristocratic Virginian Jane Peyton marries unsophisticated rustic farmer and surveyor Matt Howard who takes her to his Shenandoah Valley plantation and later goes to war.

Director:

Frank Lloyd

Writers:

Sidney Buchman (screen play), Elizabeth Page (novel)
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Nominated for 2 Oscars. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Cary Grant ... Matt Howard
Martha Scott ... Jane Peyton-Howard
Cedric Hardwicke ... Fleetwood Peyton (as Sir Cedric Hardwicke)
Alan Marshal ... Roger Peyton
Richard Carlson ... Thomas Jefferson
Paul Kelly ... Captain Jabez Allen
Irving Bacon ... Tom Norton
Elisabeth Risdon ... Aunt Clarissa (as Elizabeth Risdon)
Anne Revere ... Mrs. Norton
Tom Drake ... James Howard at 16 (as Richard Alden)
Phil Taylor Phil Taylor ... Peyton Howard at 18
Rita Quigley ... Mary Howard at 17
Libby Taylor Libby Taylor ... Dicey
Richard Gaines ... Patrick Henry
George Houston ... George Washington
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

The Vivid Drama Of A Nation's Birth !

Genres:

Drama | History | War

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

19 September 1940 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Tree of Liberty See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Martha Scott lauded Cary Grant's professionalism and assistance to her while shooting this film. This was Scott's second feature film (she had only just finished acting in her debut film, Our Town (1940) several months before) and she was quite new to the acting world. Scott claimed that Grant was extremely patient, kind, and helpful to her. He made precise lighting and staging demands for her benefit. See more »

Goofs

There are several inconsistencies in the chronology of Matt Howard's life and the progression of the American Revolutionary milestones presented in the film. Matt's father is killed in the early years of the French and Indian War, which would place his death no earlier than 1754 (in fact, more likely no earlier than 1756). The film then shows a title card indicating that twelve years had passed, thus placing the timeline of the film in the mid- or late-1760s. Matt, however, learns of the recent passage of the Stamp Act and England's taxation measures toward the colonies. The Stamp Act was instituted in 1756, making it impossible for Matt's father to have died in the French and Indian War and for twelve years to have passed. As an adult, Matt then meets, courts, and marries Jane Peyton (presumably in 1766 or 1768 according to the date of his father's death) and moves to Western Virginia to homestead and father three children. Matt learns of the Boston Tea Party (December 1773) and the Intolerable Acts of 1774 near the time that his family visits the Peyton home in Virginia. At this time, Matt's three children are an unspecified age, but Peyton (the oldest) appears no more than four or five years of age, and James (the youngest) is just a baby. The male children, however, join their father in the Colonial Army. It is strongly inferred that the young men join Matt during the lean Winter of 1777-1778 and it is clear that they are seasoned soldiers by the Battle of Yorktown (1781). The film depicts the sons as teenagers, slightly under the age of eighteen when they join their father and presumably older than eighteen by the Battle of Yorktown. However, using news of the Boston Massacre, Boston Tea Party, and Intolerable Acts as points of reference, the oldest boy would have been no older than eleven and the youngest no older than nine by the date of the Battle of Yorktown (presumably they would have been even younger unless Jane conceived each child almost immediately after giving birth.) In short, throughout much of the movie, the Howards' family history does not match the chronology of the political and military events depicted in the film. See more »

Soundtracks

Yankee Doodle
(ca. 1755) (uncredited)
Traditional music of English origin
In the score during a war scene
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Not a documentary, but much more realism than Hollywood can capture today
4 July 2009 | by mtuligSee 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


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