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The White Cliffs of Dover

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Overview

The White Cliffs of Dover is one of those overlong MGM wartime films that everyone seems to have seen a part of, but no one can remember the film as a sum total. Based on a poem by Alice Duer Miller, the story chronicles the trials and tribulations of one courageous woman through two world wars. Irene Dunne plays an American girl who, in 1914, falls in love with titled Englishman Alan Marshal. At the end of World War 1 in 1918, it is painfully clear that Marshal will not be returning from the battlefields. ...
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Overview

The White Cliffs of Dover is one of those overlong MGM wartime films that everyone seems to have seen a part of, but no one can remember the film as a sum total. Based on a poem by Alice Duer Miller, the story chronicles the trials and tribulations of one courageous woman through two world wars. Irene Dunne plays an American girl who, in 1914, falls in love with titled Englishman Alan Marshal. At the end of World War 1 in 1918, it is painfully clear that Marshal will not be returning from the battlefields. Remaining loyal to her husband, Irene vows to raise their child in England. Played by Roddy McDowell in his early scenes, Irene's son grows up to be Peter Lawford. At the outbreak of World War 2, Irene despairs at the thought of losing another loved one, but Lawford convinces her that his dad would have wanted him to answer his country's call to the colors. While working as a Red Cross volunteer, Irene finds that she must tend her own mortally wounded son. Unable to save his life, she is grief-stricken, but is gratified with the notion that neither her husband nor her boy have died in vain. Like many films of its ilk and era, White Cliffs of Dover struck a responsive chord with filmgoers, to the tune of a $4 million profit. Watch for a touching scene between Roddy McDowell and 12-year-old Elizabeth Taylor; 19 years later, lifelong friends Roddy and Liz would be playing mortal enemies in Cleopatra (1963).
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
The White Cliffs of Dover undoubtedly struck very responsive chords with its audience when released in 1944. On a more modern take, Dover is decent entertainment, but the of-its-era tendency toward propaganda makes it less effective (and affecting) as a drama. The screenplay simply tries too hard, and the manipulations become wearing after a while, even though individual sequences are quite moving. Fortunately, Dover has an exceptionally fine cast, led by the perennially underappreciated Irene Dunne. Looking smashing, Dunne delivers one of her customarily sterling performances, one that calls upon her to move through a wide range of emotions which she does with ease. (One of Dunne's nicest qualities is that she does everything with ease, giving an effortlessness to her work that is a welcome relief from the show-stopping histrionics of more obvious performers.) Dunne gets very able support from the always-entertaining Frank Morgan, as well as from such marvelous players as Dame May Whitty and Gladys Cooper. Lumsden Hare and Clarence Brown direct with appropriate sensitivity, and Cedric Gibbons' and Randall Duell's designs are detailed and, when necessary, stunning. Dover is dated and goes on a bit too long, but Dunne makes it well worth the time.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 1/19/2010
  • UPC: 883316228289
  • Original Release: 1944
  • Rating:

  • Source: Warner Archives
  • Presentation: B&W / Full Frame
  • Time: 2:06:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 17,100

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Irene Dunne Susan Dunn Ashwood
Alan Marshal Sir John Ashwood
Frank Morgan Hiram Porter Dunn
Roddy McDowall John Ashwood II, as a Boy
Ralph Morgan
Van Johnson Sam Bennett
Peter Lawford John Ashwood II, at age 24
C. Aubrey Smith Colonel
Elizabeth Taylor Betsy (age 10)
Dame May Whitty Nanny
Gladys Cooper Lady Jean Ashwood
John Warburton Reggie
Jill Esmond Rosamund
Brenda Forbes Gwennie
Norma Varden Mrs. Bland
Harry Allen English Cabby
Wilson Benge Chauffeur
Anita Bolster Miller
Matthew Boulton Immigration Officer
Edmund Breon Maj. Bancroft
Clifford Brooke Indian Major in Boarding House
Charles Coleman Capt. Davis
Clyde Cook Jennings
Alec Craig Billings
Guy D'Ennery Curate in Boarding House
George Davis Boots
Kay Deslys Blonde
Tom Drake American Soldier
Isobel Elsom Mrs. Bancroft
Herbert Evans Footman
Emily Fitzroy Spinster in Boarding House
Arthur E. Gould-Porter Capt. Portage
Ethel Griffies Woman on Train
Lumsden Hare The Vicar
Keith Hitchcock Duke of Waverly
Charles Irwin Farmer Kenney
George Kirby Old Man
Molly Lamont Helen
Nelson Leigh British Naval Officer
Doris Lloyd Plump Lady at Boarding House
June Lockhart Betsy (age 18)
Miles Mander Maj. Loring
Emily Massey Elegant Lady in Boarding House
Lal Chand Mehra Indian Student in Boarding House
Leo Mostovoy Bandmaster
Gavin Muir Capt. Griffiths
Steven Muller Gerhard
Jean Prescott Mrs. Kenney
Arthur Shields Benson
Ian Wolfe Skipper
James Menzies Telegraph Boy
Technical Credits
Clarence Brown Director
Jack Dawn Makeup
Randall Duell Art Director
George Folsey Cinematographer
Sidney Franklin Producer
George Froeschel Screenwriter
Cedric Gibbons Art Director
Arnold A. Gillespie Special Effects
Irene Costumes/Costume Designer
Al Jennings Editor
Robert J. Kern Editor
Jan Lustig Screenwriter
Jacques Mesereau Set Decoration/Design
Warren Newcombe Special Effects
Herbert Stothart Score Composer
Claudine West Screenwriter
Edwin B. Willis Set Decoration/Design
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 14, 2011

    One of the Best of All Time

    All Irene Dunne movies are special because of Irene Dunne. This one, however, is one of the best. It contains everything one hopes for in a classic movie. I cannot recommend it enough.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews