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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)
Reviews
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

With World War II raging in Europe, Columbia Pictures foresaw a need for more patriotic projects and initiated this project early in 1940. Studio executives mentioned that they believed that many Americans felt that they would be going to war soon and were desirous of patriotic films. 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

Drink to Me Only with Thine Eyes
(1616) (uncredited)
Music by R. Melish (1780 ?)
Played in the score at the wedding
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Possibly Cary Grant's worst performance...terribly miscast...
4 July 2007 | by DoylenfSee all my reviews

CARY GRANT insisted that he would never do another costume film after THE HOWARDS OF VIRGINIA and it's easy to see why after viewing the film tonight on TCM. Except for a couple of well played scenes with his sons (TOM DRAKE and PHIL TAYLOR), Grant's performance is way too broad to be acceptable as part of a serious historical epic.

Director Frank Lloyd never once tones down Grant's performance and lets the hyperactive Grant overact at any given moment in a role he clearly doesn't know how to play. At least we do get more restrained work from MARTHA SCOTT as Grant's aristocratic wife and SIR CEDRIC HARDWICKE as her snobbish brother who sides with the British during the Revolutionary War period.

Obviously a lot of expense went into creating the right atmosphere for this story of the turmoil surrounding America's independence among the colonies, and there are times when you wish even more had been spent to produce the film in the gorgeous Technicolor of that era. But the script is a weak one, never able to maintain the sort of interest it should have had over a running time of two hours.

The banal dialog that closes the film is about as jingoistic as you can get and enough to make anyone wince. The story was probably chosen because the producers hoped to make another DRUMS ALONG THE MOHAWK or GONE WITH THE WIND--but they failed utterly to do so.

Summing up: Sad to see Grant so badly miscast and not given proper direction.


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