Green Dolphin Street (1947)
Director: Victor Saville.
Starring: Lana Turner (Marianne Patourel), Van Heflin (Timothy Haslam), Donna Reed (Marguerite Patourel), Richard Hart (William Ozanne), Frank Morgan (Dr. Edmond Ozanne), Edmund Gwenn (Octavius Patourel), Dame May Whitty (Mother Superior), Reginald Owen (Captain O'Hara), Gladys Cooper (Sophie Patourel), Moyna MacGill (Mrs. Metivier), Linda Christian (Hine-Moa), Bernie Gozier (Jacky-Poto), Patrick Aherne (Kapua-Manga), Al Kikume (A Maori), Edith Leslie (Sister Angelique).
English misfits end up in New Zealand in the year 1840
Spoiler Warning: below is a summary of the entire film.
England. Two sisters, Mariana and Marguerite, fall in love with the same young man, William, who fails to reveal which sister he likes most. A young fellow named Ty really likes Mairana, but she doesn't even know Ty.
Mariana wants to make a man of the young William and she gets him into the British navy after getting him some experience on the ship known as the Green Dolphin. While in the navy, William gets tricked by a con woman and finds himself waking up one morning with most of his clothes gone, as well as his money. William misses his ship as it puts out to sea. Thinking himself to be thought a deserter, he gets a ride on the Green Dolphin sailing for New Zealand.
In New Zealand, William runs into Ty. Ty had to flee England because he killed the brother of a girlfriend who came after him with a knife. Ty recognizes William because William was a rival for the hand of Marianne, even though William preferred to have Marguerite. Ty introduces himself and offers William a job working at his timber business. William accepts the job. Ty asks a lot of questions about which sister he liked the best, but William refuses to talk about the matter in any detail.
William starts work, but he is not happy without Marguerite by his side. Ty tells him to write and tell the chosen sister to come out to New Zealand and marry him. So William writes the letter and mails it. But William makes a terrible mistake. He is often drunk and in a stupor he actually wrote to Marianne instead of Marguerite. Marianne is so excited when she reads the letter and Marguerite is devastated. So Marianne waits for the Green Dolphin to come in so she can go with the ship to New Zealand.
Ty learns about the mistake in the letter and insists that William must marry Marianne regardless of that mistake. William doesn't want to marry Mariane, but he tells his buddy that he will marry Marianne when she arrives.
Marianne does arrive in New Zealand and in a short while William marries Marianne. They have a house near Ty's home in the timber business zone outside of Wellington, New Zealand.
Marguerite is depressed over what has happened. And then her life even gets worse. Marguerite's mother dies. The maid reads a letter to Marguerite from her sister. Marguerite learns that her sister is going to have a baby soon. Then she learns from the priest that her father has died, probably from a broken heart.
Marguerite goes outside and lays downs on the sand bar. At high tide she is awakened by the water. But now the waters are rushing in. Marguerite has no choice but to climb up the inside of the mountain to get away from the waters. It's a hard struggle for her and at times she almost plummets to her death. She finally reaches the top of the mountain where she finds herself by the well-known statue there. This is the first time she has seen the statue close up.
She bangs on the door of the monastery. A nun runs to the reverend mother and brings her to the door. They open the door and find Marguerite, who feels suicidal. She says her parents have died and her beloved has abandoned her. Reverend mother takes Marguerite in. When she is recovered, Marguerite goes home.
William works on in the timber industry. He is still miserable about his marriage.
Ty goes in to see Marianne and brings her a gift. He asks her why does she hate him? Because Van has too much influence over William. She tells him that her husband hates her. Ty tells her that her husband does not hate her and her marriage is not a failure.
She speaks with her husband to try to bring themselves closer. William says he will try to be better to her and then takes off for Wellington to meet Captain O'Hara coming in on the Green Dolphin.
An earth quake shakes the earth fiercely. Ty rushes outside. He then rushes over to the home of Marianne, who is screaming for help. He rushes into the home and grabs Marianne and carries her out. Outside trees are falling and the earth opens up. Ty has to do all he can to avoid these hazards. He takes her to his house and sets her and himself down near his re-enforced door well. Some of the natives are killed by falling into the openings in the earth or being killed by falling trees.
William is coming home via a raft on the river. The earthquake opens up a dammed lake which rushes down to the river. The rising waters soon destroys the boat on which William was riding.
Marianne awakens in Ty's home. She is afraid that she is having her baby too early.
The whole thing was the worst catastrophe in New Zealand history.
Marianne has her baby.
Ty says her husband is still alive. He survived the destruction of the boat by the flooding of the river. Marianne is still feeling distant from Ty. Then Ty brings in William. Marianne is thrilled to see her husband, but she is also very disappointed by all the damage done by the earthquake. The Green Dolphin was destroyed by a tidal wave created by the earthquake. Captain O'Hara is dead.
Several years pass. Maori War breaks out again with the burning of white settlements. The army appears in the streets of Wellington.
A Maori brings Ty a note that the Maori will be attacking their settlement soon.
The little girl is now three years old or so. Uncle Ty comes to tell William and his family. Marianne and Veronica must go to Wellington right now. Marianne refuses to go. Ty says he's going to Wellington. He takes William outside to talk with him.
Marianne is very competent. She virtually orders her husband to start building the stockade around their home in concert with the men of the settlement.
At night William fights to keep the natives out of the stockade, but they push through the stockade gate very easily. William is taken prisoner. Hundreds of natives are now in the stockade. William and his family are not killed.
Ty returns. Since he has close ties with the Maori, he has a certain protection from the natives. He takes the little girl and leads William and Marianne out of the stockade. The Indians start to stop them, but the chief orders his people to let them go. They go to Wellington. They run a business there.
Marianne wants to move to South Island. William wants to stick with the timber business and Marianne wants them to go into the sheep business. Her real reason for wanting to go is to avoid the threat of war to her daughter.
Ty says he has to go back to help the starving natives. He says he won't go with them.
At this time he tells Marianne that he loved her ever since she was a girl. He says she loves him too. She admits that she loves Ty, but is committed to William. Ty says that's why he won't go with her to South Island.
Marianne goes to the ship for the voyage. William comes over to say goodbye to Ty.
Marguerite comes to visit the monastery again. She is thinking of joining the monastery. Reverend mother tells her to keep praying to God to make sure she is making the right choice.
In Dunellen William is now a wealthy man and his wealthy neighbors give a warm toast to him. He says they should be toasting his wife for he owes everything he has to her. Marianne hears this and is greatly pleased.
Marianne wants to go back to to St. Pierre to visit her sister. William says he can't go back because of his desertion from the British navy. But the super competent Marianne has taken care of that matter for him. She insists that she really wants to go home and William gives in to her.
They arrive home to the shock of the servants. Marguerite is in the monastery.
Back home her little daughter finds the note to Marguerite from William proclaiming his everlasting to her. Marianne is shocked and deeply upset.
William comes home. The maid says his wife is not feeling well. Marianne looks at him with a deep scowl. She hands him the love note he wrote to Marguerite. He tells her the note was written long ago. He says he loves Marianne now. He now confesses about the mix-up of the names of Marianne and Marguerite. He also tells her that the only person he told about the mix-up of the names is Ty. Marianne tells William to never speak to her again, starts crying and leaves.
Early the next morning Marianne goes to see Marguerite at the monastery. She tells Marguerite about the mix-up. She says William married her out of pity. Marguerite says she has started a new life. She does not want to be with William again. She says now she is extremely happy. She tells her sister to tell this to William.
William says he grew to love his wife over time. He believes it was God that directed him to Marianne. Marianne starts crying. He says he's gotten more love than he had ever dreamed possible. The couple hugs each other. Together they go out to see the ceremony making Marguerite a nun.
This movie caught me off-guard. I was watching it on the AMC Television channel as just another interesting drama. But then I hear that the characters were soon heading for New Zealand. So I quickly started writing down the movie review as sat by my computer and types. We don't get that many films about New Zealand and I didn't want to miss it. The film has a four-way love story that gets a bit entangled with itself. What I enjoyed was seeing the growth of a small settlement into a much bigger one through the efforts of the two heroes of the movie. It was also good to learn a bit about the Maori people and the wars that arose between the newcomers and the natives. Lana Turner did a great job as Marianne. Donna Reed wasn't so bad herself, except that the role called for a bit of a mousy person and Donna was especially good at that. We watch the love stories as the newcomers have to face the hardships of a life in a brand new country.
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
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