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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 <email@example.com>
Lana Turner as Marianne marries her sister Marguerite's beau in "Green Dolphin Street," an MGM extravaganza (but in black and white) that probably was meant to equal Gone With the Wind. The story concerns a family, the Patourels, living on the Channel Islands. Their mother (Gladys Cooper) was forbidden to marry the love of her life (Frank Morgan) and instead married Octavius (Edmund Gwenn) and has two daughters. Morgan returns to the area with a son, William (Richard Hart) and both of the girls go after him, though he falls in love with Marguerite (Donna Reed). Eventually he ends up in New Zealand and, in a drunken stupor, writes to Octavius for his daughter's hand in marriage
except he writes the name Marianne, not Marguerite, thereby changing
his life and the lives of the sisters forever.
The film is a bit long but holds the viewer once it gets going. Its main problem when it's seen today is the painted backdrops and fake scenery, all extremely obvious. When one compares the backdrops and scenery of the earlier Gone with the Wind to this, it's obvious that Selznick demanded a lot more care from his artists than did the powers that be on this film.
There are several striking scenes, but the best is Donna Reed climbing a tunnel inside of a cave to escape the rising tide. The earthquake scenes and the Maori attacks are also excellent and exciting.
The role of Marianne is huge and well essayed by Lana Turner. Marianne is a smart, controlling woman whose guidance turns William into a success. Apparently the character in the book was somewhat plain; obviously, Turner isn't, so she brings a femininity and beauty to the part as well as a strong core. Of course, when she's supposed to be pregnant, she's wearing a dress tightly cinched at the waist. It was considered indecent to show pregnancy back then, but it's ridiculous. As Marguerite, Donna Reed manages to bring some color into what is a somewhat thankless role. Van Heflin, as a friend and eventual partner of William, gives a wonderful performance as a tough but kind and tender man who makes William do the right thing by Marianne. Gladys Cooper does her usual fine job as Mrs. Patourel, and her final scene is beautiful. There were several very touching parts of the movie, and that was one of them. Newcomer Richard Hart, who died four years later, is William and looks good once he grows his mustache. The role, however, could have used a more exciting performance. Hart was from the theater and actually performed many of the classics on television in its early days.
On an interesting side note, Linda Christian plays Turner's Maori maid. Turner at that time was seeing Tyrone Power. The story goes that Christian overheard Turner say that Power was going to be in Rome. Christian wangled the money for her and her sister, went to Rome, and stayed in the same hotel as Power. He never returned to Turner and the next year married Christian.
Apropos of this, "Green Dolphin Street" asks age-old questions - are there mistakes in life, or a guiding hand? Did William really write the name of the wrong sister, or was that as it was meant to be? We all have to decide for ourselves. I'm not sure "Green Dolphin Street" will help one do that, but it's entertaining nonetheless.
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