In early April 1940 movie director, Frank Lloyd led an entourage to Williamsburg VA that included 15 train cars full of colonial coaches, costumes, guns and other accessories. Civic leaders and a crowd of curious townspeople greeted him.
Lloyd came to Williamsburg to direct the filming of “The Howards of Virginia” a 1940 American film released by Columbia Pictures and based on the book The Tree of Liberty written by Elizabeth Page.
The film starred Cary Grant as Matt Howard, a man of the Virginia frontier whose relentless optimism and a sense that he was just as good as anybody else fueled his rise in society at the time of the American Revolution.
It’s a classic American story. Howard works his way up in the world, marrying above his station and battling his nemesis. Along the way he shares the stage with Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, and George Washington, and witnesses many of the key events leading up to the Revolution.
The movie, which boasted a $20 million dollar budget, was filmed in Colonial Williamsburg and on a Hollywood sound stage where exact copies of the town’s rooms were constructed. The Capitol, Raleigh Tavern and Governor’s Palace are prominently featured.
The Howards of Virginia live through the American Revolutionary War, with Cary Grant starring as Matt Howard, Martha Scott starring as his wife Jane Peyton Howard, and Alan Marshal and Sir Cedric Hardwicke starring as Jane’s brothers Roger and Fleetwood Peyton. Fleetwood Peyton is Jane’s elder brother, the patriarch of his family, and a member of the Tidewater aristocracy.