The White Cliffs of Dover (film)

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The White Cliffs of Dover
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Clarence Brown
Produced by
Screenplay by
Based on "The White Cliffs"
(1940 poem) 
by Alice Duer Miller
Music by Herbert Stothart
Edited by Robert Kern
Distributed by MGM
Release dates
  • May 11, 1944 (1944-05-11) (USA)
Running time
126 min.
Country United States
Language English
Budget $2,342,000[1][2]
Box office $4,045,000 (domestic)[1]
$2,249,000 (foreign)[1]

The White Cliffs of Dover is a 1944 film made by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, directed by Clarence Brown and produced by Clarence Brown and Sidney Franklin. The screenplay was by Claudine West, Jan Lustig and George Froeschel, based on the Alice Duer Miller poem titled The White Cliffs with the credit of additional poetry by Robert Nathan. Nathan stated in an interview that he wrote the screenplay in his first work as a contract writer for MGM but the studio credited Claudine West who died in 1943 as a tribute to her.[3] The role of Betsy was shared. Betsy as a little girl at age 10 was played by Elizabeth Taylor and Betsy as a young woman was played by June Lockhart.

Plot summary[edit]

American newspaper publisher Hiram P. Dunn and his daughter Susan visit Britain, intending to stay a week. She meets and falls in love with an army officer, Sir John Ashwood. The honeymoon is cut short as the First World War breaks out. John goes to war in France, sees his bride only once more, and is then killed in action near the end of the war. In the meantime, Lady Susan gives birth to a son, also named John (although the eldest son has always traditionally been named Percy), who never knew his father.

Susan and John continue to live in the family manor house with Lady Jean, Sir John's Mother. After she dies, they decide to sell the manor and return to America, but young John is in love with Betsy Kenney (Elizabeth Taylor), the daughter of tenant farmers on the estate. They decide to stay after all.

As the Second World War begins, John, after Eton and Sandhurst, joins his father's regiment. Betsy becomes a WREN and Susan becomes a nurse. John is badly wounded on the Dieppe Raid and is brought to the hospital where Susan is now a nursing sister. As American troops march through London, Susan gazes proudly at them and John slips quietly away.



A scene in the film approximating the early '30s shows adolescent German boys, part of an exchange programme, visiting the British family's country estate. Insinuating they were part of early Nazi invasion plans, the film has the boys let it slip in conversation that they are contemplating how the estate's large lawns would be ideal for troop gliders to land on.

Box Office[edit]

According to MGM records the film was a big hit and earned $6,294,000 at the box office resulting in a profit of $1,784,000.[2]

The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Cinematography in Black and White.


White Cliffs of Dover was adapted as a radio play on the September 18, 1946 episode of Academy Award Theater, starring Irene Dunne in her original film role.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Glancy, H. Mark "When Hollywood Loved Britain: The Hollywood 'British' Film 1939-1945" (Manchester University Press, 1999)
  2. ^ a b The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study .
  3. ^ p.42 Davis, Ronald L. Robert Nathan interview in Words into Images: Screenwriters on the Studio System Univ. Press of Mississippi, 2007

External links[edit]