Verse Novel Source for Film
The White Cliffs of Dover is based on a verse novel The White Cliffs by Alice Duer Miller published in 1940. The novel was an instant success and sold almost a million copies. Duer Miller was a popular writer and screenwriter. In fact one of her stories was made into the musical Roberta starring Dunne in 1935.
|Elizabeth Taylor and Roddy McDowell|
Serene and Dignified
The film is told in flashback as Dunne’s character recalls her younger days, while serving as a nurse during World War II. At the beginning of the movie, Dunne plays a young girl of 20, which was quite a stretch since she was 46 years old when the film was released. Even though it’s obvious that Dunne isn’t in her 20s, she captures the spirit of a young woman in both her mannerisms and speech. As the older woman, Dunne is serene and dignified. In his May 12, 1944 review of the film, New York Times critic Bosley Crowther said, “Miss Dunne gives to her character a nice glow of American charm...”
|Alan Marshall and Dunne|
In a famous photograph of M-G-M movie stars, commemorating its 20th anniversary, Dunne, technically not a studio contract player, is seated in the front row two seats to the right of studio chief, Louis B. Mayer. It’s a tribute to Dunne’s popularity (and Mayer’s keen marketing sense) that she was included in this iconic image.
|More stars than are in the heavens: M-G -M celebrates 20 years. |
Dunne is in the front row fourth from right.