Alan Ladd played as Backwoodsman (uncredited)
Release: Sep 19, 1940
The film is set in colonial Virginia between the 1750s and 1781. Matt Howard (Cary Grant), orphaned son of a backwoods Virginia farmer, uses his connections with his schoolmate Tom Jefferson to get employment as a surveyor and a grant of a thousand acres on the Shenandoah. While surveying the Williamsburg estate of planter Fleetwood Peyton (Cedric Hardwicke) he meets with Peyton's sister Jane (Martha Scott). For both of them it is eternal love at first kiss, and despite differences of class and culture, and the enmity of Fleetwood, Jane marries Matt and follows him to his cabin in the west country.
Within a few years, the estate is thriving and the cabin on the hillside has become a gracious colonial home. There are minor conflicts with neighbors and over manners, but the Howards successfully raise a clutch of children. The one major instability is over the eldest son, Peyton Howard, whose inherited lameness reminds Matt of his hated brother-in-law, and whom Matt therefore cannot love or even bring himself to touch. As time passes, and conflict with England looms, Matt is sent by his neighbors to the House of Burgesses in Williamsburg, where he and Fleetwood represent the extreme rebel and Tory positions.
In 1776, the entire family moves back to Williamsburg as war threatens, and after the passage of the Virginia resolution for independence, Matt leaves to fight the British under General Washington. A few years later, after quarreling with their uncle over their father's rebel stand, Peyton and his younger brother James are expelled from the Peyton home, and they too go north to join up with their father, and are accepted as dispatch riders for Washington.
Listening unseen to his two sons arguing over the merits of the rebellion, Matt Howard realizes that Peyton is closer to his own principles and political beliefs than his beloved James, and he tries to communicate his love. But war gets in the way: Peyton is sent with a message for Lafayette, and we see him shot off his horse by a British patrol. Matt and the rest of the army trudge south to meet the British army, which is bottled up near Yorktown. When the army reaches Williamsburg, Matt forces his way into Washington's presence and asks after Peyton: his mission had been to draw the British fire so that other messengers could get through, but he was merely wounded and is recuperating back at home.
At Fleetwood Peyton's house Matt finds his son and they reunite, together with their mother and the rest of the Howards. The odd man out is Fleetwood, who has become cynical and bitter at the outcome of the war and what he sees as the destruction of Tidewater society. Watch Movies Online for Free on 10StarMovies.