London based American nurse, Susan, Lady Ashwood, is at the hospital awaiting the imminent arrival of injured soldiers. She is hoping that her enlisted son, Sir John Ashwood, who resembles ...
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London based American nurse, Susan, Lady Ashwood, is at the hospital awaiting the imminent arrival of injured soldiers. She is hoping that her enlisted son, Sir John Ashwood, who resembles his father both in appearance and temperament, is not among those injured. As she waits, she remembers back to WWI when her husband, the previous Sir John Ashwood, 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 Dunn, the publisher of a small daily newspaper, were only in London in April 1914 on a two week vacation - her first ever 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 who he was supposed to keep company for the evening. Despite being mutually attracted to each other, the patriotic Sue didn't ... Written by
The only reference to the White Cliffs of Dover comes in at the beginning of the film as we watch Susan and her friend, Sam Bennet, as they are approaching England by sea. The magnificent cliffs are seen in the distance in all their splendor. Susan, clearly moved by the sight, revels on the many things that await her in London where she and her father are going to spend two weeks vacation.
Alas, when they arrive, they are treated to the typical rainy weather, that puts a damp, no pun intended, in her enjoyment of a city and all things English she has always admired. Instead of finding a place that meets all her expectations, Susan has to endure the weather and the prospect of going back without seeing the sights and places she really wanted to see.
Enter the kind Colonel, the man living in the modest hotel where the Dunns are staying. He invites Susan to a society ball where she meets Sir John Ashwood, the man who will become her husband. John is instrumental in her staying in England. Susan never expected to be married into the rich gentry that John belongs to. In fact, the beginning of her life in the family country estate convinces her she doesn't belong.
It's 1915 and WWI arrives without warning. Susan sees in horror how John goes to his regiment and to the front. He eventually dies, but the son that arrives for her is, in a way, a painful reminder of the great loss she suffered. Like his father, the boy grows up and has to go to war, as it's expected of his kind.
"The White Cliffs of Dover" was directed by Clarence Brown, who gave it a great look. Irene Dunne makes a good impression as Susan, the courageous woman who stays in a strange country and has to make a new life for herself and her new family. Alan Marshal is perfect as the dashing John Ashwood.
In minor roles we see Roddy McDowall, who plays the young John Ashwood. Harry Morgan is Susan's father. Gladys Cooper, May Witty, Peter Lawford, Van Johnson, C. Aubrey Smith, and the rest of the cast do good work. The young Elizabeth Taylor is seen as the young Betsy and June Lockhart appears as the grown up girl in uncredited roles.
"The White Cliffs of Dover" is about loyalty for one's country and how tradition plays a role in the lives of all the people one meets in the story, even during the difficult times these characters had to live.
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