Susan travels with her father to England for a vacation. Invited to a ball, Susan meets Sir John Ashwood and marries him after a whirlwind romance. However, American Susan never quite adjusts to life as a new member of the British gentry.


Clarence Brown


Claudine West (screenplay), Jan Lustig (screenplay) | 3 more credits »
Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »





Complete credited cast:
Irene Dunne ... Susan Ashwood
Alan Marshal ... Sir John Ashwood
Roddy McDowall ... John Ashwood II - As a Boy
Frank Morgan ... Hiram Porter Dunn
Van Johnson ... Sam Bennett
C. Aubrey Smith ... Colonel Walter Forsythe
May Whitty ... Nanny (as Dame May Whitty)
Gladys Cooper ... Lady Jean Ashwood
Peter Lawford ... John Ashwood II - As a Young Man
John Warburton ... Reggie Ashwood
Jill Esmond ... Rosamund
Brenda Forbes ... Gwennie
Norma Varden ... Mrs. Bland


London based American nurse, Lady Susan Ashwood (Irene Dunne), is at a hospital awaiting the imminent arrival of wounded soldiers. She is hoping that her enlisted son, Sir John Ashwood II (Peter Lawford), who resembles his father in appearance and temperament, is not amongst those wounded. As she waits, she remembers back to World War I when her husband, the former Sir John Ashwood (Alan Marshal), was enlisted, and the waiting she endured on any news from and about him while he was away in battle. From a humble background, Sue almost didn't meet Sir John, let alone marry him, as she and her father, Hiram Porter Dunn (Frank Morgan), the publisher of a small daily newspaper, were only in London in April 1914 on a two week vacation - her first trip - that was not going very well when by happenstance she got invited on her last day in London to the King's ball, where Sir John was awaiting the arrival of another young woman with whom he was supposed to keep company for the evening. Despite... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The Romance That Will Live Forever! See more »


Drama | Romance | War


Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


Roddy McDowall and Dame Elizabeth Taylor appeared in Lassie Come Home (1943). See more »


A gift with a plaque dedicated to First Lady, Dolley Madison, misspells her name "Dolly Madison." See more »


John Ashwood II as a Young Man: [On his deathbed] You know, Mother, I wasn't afraid.
Susan Dunn's landlady: [Comforting] I know.
See more »

Alternate Versions

Elizabeth Taylor's scenes are often deleted in older TV prints. See more »


Featured in Twenty Years After (1944) See more »


(1862) (uncredited)
Written by Daniel Butterfield
Played by a marching band of British and American troops during World War II
See more »

User Reviews

A Cinderella tale intertwined with tragedy
4 March 2017 | by AlsExGalSee all my reviews

White Cliffs of Dover was made to stoke the flames of patriotism. The film is largely Dunne as a 50 something WWII nurse awaiting a large number of casualties as she looks back on her life in England.

Her memories consist of the tale of a Yankee girl, Irene Dunne as Susan Dunn, who goes on a two week vacation to England with her father and on her last day there meets a member of the English gentry who is instantly smitten by her and talks her into staying and marrying him. At first Susan feels out of her element as Lady Ashwood, but she quickly finds her footing. She and her husband, Sir John Ashwood, don't even have time for a honeymoon as WWI starts and he is off to fight with his regiment. After three years he finally gets a few days leave, but it is long enough to conceive his son, John Ashwood Jr., or John Ashwood II as the British would say.

Irene Dunne always gave good subtle performances in parts that could have easily gotten ham-fisted, and this role is no exception. Frank Morgan as her Yankee dad is a revelation as he is for once not the befuddled comic relief but a spirited American father who wants his daughter home in America before her marriage, and safe from the Nazi bombs as the winds of a second war approach. C. Aubrey Smith lends terrific support as Colonel Walter Forsythe, considered a crackpot at the boarding house where he and the Dunns were staying during their trip, because he claims to have a standing invitation to the most exclusive ball in England, but seems to just be a common pensioner. Well it turns out he really can turn pumpkins into carriages after all. Roddy McDowell plays John Jr., and he is smitten by one of the daughters of the tenant farmers on the estate played by a twelve year old Elizabeth Taylor in only her third credited role. Their scenes together are just too cute.

As with most of the WWII films there are a few lines and a few scenes that get over the top just a bit. There are the American soldiers marching through the streets of London to rousing patriotic songs played by a military band as the film comes full circle. There are the two German preteens who are friends of John Jr. during the early 1930's who just happen to erupt into Nazi propaganda at the dinner table. I was surprised one of them didn't put a comb under his nose and start imitating the Bohemian corporal. And then there is grief that takes all of 15 seconds in spite of its cruel irony because you just HAVE to keep that stiff upper lip! But it's not overdone for a film that is over two hours long, and it does take that long to do the tale justice.

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English | French | German

Release Date:

June 1944 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The White Cliffs of Dover See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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