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Sophie loved Edmund, but he left town when her parents forced her to marry wealthy Octavius. Years later, Edmund returns with his son, William. Sophie's daughter, Marguerite, and William fall in love. Marguerite's sister, Marianne, also loves William. Timothy, a lowly carpenter, secretly loves Marianne. He kills a man in a fight, and Edmund helps him flee to New Zealand. William deserts inadvertently from the navy, and also flees in disgrace to New Zealand, where he and Timothy start a profitable business. One night, drunk, William writes Octavius, demanding his daughter's hand; but, being drunk, he errs. Written by
James Barrett <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Is there really a Plan at work in the strange twists and turns of our lives? Green Dolphin Street makes the case that there is--that things happen for good reasons, which can't be understood during the heartbreak of the moment. We see a meaningful design woven in the lives of three people as the movie reaches its strongly crafted and truly moving conclusion. This is a story with a long-range view, taking us through the intertwined lives of two sisters and the man they love. It even reaches back to reveal secrets from the past, from their parents. And it moves forward with exciting scenes of the dangers of pioneer life in New Zealand in contrast to the peaceful world of the Chanel Islands where it all begins.
Intriguingly, another man, a fugitive from British justice, plays a key role in ensuring the happiness and safety of one sister, Marianne. In this role, Van Heflin has one of the best parts of his career and makes the most of it. Even here, the theme of a Plan at work is expressed when he suggests to her that they must be old souls who have known one another a very long time. For me, he greatly overshadowed her husband--in fact, would have made a much more suitable husband for her--and perhaps that was intended as another example of the ironies of life.
The role of Marianne, played by Lana Turner, is pivotal to the story. While she gives this part her very best, another actress with a stronger face and more range could have done better. Somehow, Lana still looked and sounded like a Hollywood glamour girl. Yet, at times, I was moved to tears during her scenes. Donna Reed in the role of her sister Marguerite seemed more comfortable with her assignment and developed a strength and radiant beauty in the course of the film. No one who has seen this movie could forget her scene as she climbs the cliff. Other memorable moments take place in New Zealand with the earthquake and tidal wave or the attack of the Maoris. But the best is saved for the last. The ending of Green Dolphin Street conveys a transcendence that lifts it far above the ordinary Hollywood costume period movie.
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