The White Cliffs of Dover (1944) - Rotten Tomatoes

The White Cliffs of Dover (1944)





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Movie Info

In this film, Irene Dunne plays an American girl who marries titled Englishman Alan Marshal. At the end of WWI, it is painfully clear that Marshal will not be returning from the battlefields. Remaining loyal to her husband, Dunne vows to raise their child in England.
Classics , Drama , Romance
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
Warner Home Video


Irene Dunne
as Susan Ashwood
Alan Marshal
as Sir John Ashwood
Frank Morgan
as Hiram Porter Dunn
Roddy McDowall
as John Ashwood II as a Boy
Peter Lawford
as John Ashwood II at age 24
Gladys Cooper
as Lady Jean Ashwood
Van Johnson
as Sam Bennett
Jill Esmond
as Rosamund
Brenda Forbes
as Gwennie
Norma Varden
as Mrs. Bland
Elizabeth Taylor
as Betsy, at Age 10
June Lockhart
as Betsy, at Age 18
Charles Irwin
as Farmer Kenney
Jean Prescott
as Mrs. Kenney
Tom Drake
as American Soldier
Isobel Elsom
as Mrs. Bancroft
Edmund Breon
as Major Bancroft
Miles Mander
as Major Loring
Ann Curzon
as Miss Lambert
Steven Muller
as Gerhard
Norbert Muller
as Dietrich
Lumsden Hare
as The Vicar
Emily Fitzroy
as Spinster in Boarding House
Emily Massey
as Elegant Lady in Boarding House
Guy D'Ennery
as Curate in Boarding House
Lal Chand Mehra
as Indian Student in Boarding House
Clifford Brooke
as Indian Major in Boarding House
Ethel Griffies
as Woman on Train
Elton Burkett
as Twins in Boarding House
Eldon Burkett
as Twins in Boarding House
Herbert Evans
as Footman
Ian Wolfe
as Skipper
Alec Craig
as Billings
Clyde Cook
as Jennings
Bunny Gordon
as John, at 6 Months
Leo Mostovoy
as Bandmaster
Arthur E. Gould-Porter
as Capt. Portage
Gavin Muir
as Capt. Griffiths
Charles Coleman
as Capt. Davis
Kay Deslys
as Blonde
Vera Graaf
as Duchess
Anita Bolster
as Miller
Wilson Benge
as Chauffeur
Harry Allen
as English Cabby
Nelson Leigh
as British Naval Officer
Mabel Row
as Housemaid
James Menzies
as Telegraph Boy
George Kirby
as Old Man
Matthew Boulton
as Immigration Officer
Doris Lloyd
as Plump Lady at Boarding House
Keith Hitchcock
as Duke of Waverly
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Critic Reviews for The White Cliffs of Dover

All Critics (4) | Top Critics (3)

It may well give genuine admirers of good cinema and credible Englishmen the jimjams.

Full Review… | March 23, 2011
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

Dunne gives an excellent performance, as does Alan Marshal, playing her husband, while Roddy McDowall stands out sharply as their son.

Full Review… | March 26, 2009
Top Critic

A Cinderella story in sweet disguise.

Full Review… | March 25, 2006
New York Times
Top Critic

Alice Duer Miller's poem was the inspiration for this sentimental look at the ravages of war and at the courage of one woman who lost both her husband and son in the two world wars that dominated this century.

Full Review… | March 23, 2011
TV Guide

Audience Reviews for The White Cliffs of Dover


Okay...if you are one of those that doesn't like sentimental, romantic flicks...well, you can skip over this review right now. Go and watch Terminator 2 or something instead : ) For all you others...well, I think this is a gem of a of those flicks that you really don't hear or read too much about - but you end up completely immersed in the drama during it's two hour + running time. It's dialogue driven with characters you grow to care for. It's also definitely a propaganda film and politics does rear it's ugly head later on in the film (and spoils the mood somewhat)...but i'll address that in a moment. I've only seen a handful of Irene Dunne films but this one would have to rank as my favorite now. She is just fabulous here as Susan Dunn, an american woman vacationing in London with her father, Hiram Dunn (Frank Morgan) - who is a newspaper publisher. Both are in England to "explore their roots". They stay at a boarding house where they meet a retired Colonel Forsythe (played by the venerable C. Aubrey Smith) who is viewed as somewhat eccentric by the other boarders. One of the better scenes has Mr. Dunn playing chess with the Colonel which soon escalates into a patriotic war of words when Mr. Dunn finds out that the chess set was actually looted from the White House by the Colonel's grandfather during the War of 1812!!! Later, to Susan's surprise and delight, the Colonel invites her to a ball where she would have the opportunity to meet the King and Queen of England. This would truly be the highlight of her visit. The other boarders tell Susan not to get her hopes up though because the Colonel's link to high society just a figment of his imagination (or possible senility). But very much to the boarder's surprise - the Colonel is true to his word. Thanks to his military background, he does have connections after all and both Susan and the Colonel soon find themselves rubbing elbows with London high society. While at the ball, Susan meets up with a young and very eligible aristocrat, Sir John Ashwood (Alan Marshall). The rest of the evening plays out very much like a fairy tale for Susan - culminating in a moonlit ride through London. Wedding bells are soon to follow... The film is deliberately paced by director Clarence Brown (FLESH AND THE DEVIL, ANNA KARENINA) and covers the period between the 2 world wars. You get a sense of the ebb and flow of the lives of the characters - of life's ups and downs. Another film which I liked and has a similar feel and theme would be David Lean's THIS HAPPY BREED released the same year but follows the lives of a british working class family instead. While Lean's film was a british production, THE WHITE CLIFFS OF DOVER is an american production based on a popular poem by Alice Duer Miller. Poem and film extolls the virtues of both England and the United States and meant to boost the morale of the moviegoers for both countries. The propaganda really starts to get heavy during the last part of the film - especially during an awkward scene when 2 German lads are invited to the Ashwood estate and a debate ensues between Susan's father (Frank Morgan) and the 2 youths - who reek of the Nazi youth movement of the 1930's. I suppose it was meant as a reminder to the audience who the real enemy is... but the scene is so jarring compared to the rest of the film that I wish it could have been played more subtly. Considering what has taken place in the world during the years since the end of World War II, the films message and plea for world peace seems poignant especially viewed today - have we really learned our lessons? Anyway...have your hankies ready while viewing this one. 9

bernard anselmo
bernard anselmo

Charming period film, wonderfully acted by the amazing Irene Dunne, beautifully filmed with excellent attention to the art direction, costumes and the cinematography. It's Dunne that makes the film work.

James Higgins
James Higgins

A perfectly fine movie. I wasn't aware it was inspired by a poem until the montage near the end. I was surprised to see a young Elizabeth Taylor as she is not credited.

Anastasia McGee
Anastasia McGee

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