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November 26, 2013 / Joanne Yeck

Hollywood Invades Howardsville

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Before I discovered Buckingham County, for years, I wrote about Classic Hollywood.

In the 2013 issue of the Magazine of Albemarle County History, I had the extraordinary opportunity to combine my love of the movies with a story about central Virginia in the article, “Hollywood Comes to Howardsville: The Making of Virginia (1941).”  It begins:

In 1940, Hollywood motion pictures shot on location were relatively rare. Most movies were made on studio sound stages, on studio back lots, or filmed outdoors at studio-owned ranches in the greater Los Angeles area. The majority of releases during that period were also shot in black and white. Technicolor films were comparatively expensive, the three-strip Technicolor cameras were unwieldy, and film processing was proprietarily controlled by the Technicolor company. At that time, to combine an on-location shoot with color film was even rarer. Thus, in 1940, when Paramount Pictures decided to shoot Virginia on location, transporting cast, crew, and Technicolor cameras to faraway, rural Albemarle County, Virginia, it broke significant new ground.

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Hollywood’s invasion of the rather sleepy James River town of Howardsville was not without challenge and mishap.  The lovely Madeline Carroll captured many a heart in Albemarle County and Fred MacMurray proved to be just a regular guy who liked to go fishing.

Errors happen and “Hollywood Comes to Howardsville” is no exception.  For many details in the article, I relied on the work of Alan Bruns, one-time reporter for The Daily Progress. Spell check can be a blessing and a curse.  In the article, regrettably, the letters in his name were transposed to “Burns.”

For more about Alan Bruns, please see Ruth Klippstein’s article, “A Different View,” in the June 2011 issue of Scottsville Monthly.

If you are not currently a member of the Albemarle Charlottesville Historical Society, you can purchase the 2013 issue online: Magazine of Albemarle County History

4 Comments

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  1. Gene / Nov 26 2013 12:03 pm

    I also understand that some of this was filmed in Bremo Bluff at Upper and Lower Bremo.

    • Joanne Yeck / Nov 26 2013 12:05 pm

      That right, Gene. Paramount used the exterior of the house at Upper Bremo. It’s mentioned in the article, along with a few other locations, including Farmington Country Club outside of Charlottesville.

  2. Joanne Yeck / Nov 26 2013 11:59 am

    I regret to report that VIRGINIA only circulates in very inferior, pirated copies. A nitrate print is at UCLA’s film archive. TCM has a synopsis on line; however, to my knowledge, the channel does not show the film.

  3. onestitchatatime / Nov 26 2013 11:49 am

    Oooh, looks good! Have you seen it? Doesn’t look to be out on DVD. I guess I’ll have to scout TCM when the time comes.

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