The 161-minute costume drama Green Dolphin Street is set in 1840, on an island off the coast of Newfoundland, (or at least, the MGM backlot facsimile of same). Boiled down to essentials, it's the story of two sisters, blonde Marguerite Patourel (Donna Reed) and brunette
Marianne Patourel (Lana Turner), daughters of the wealthy Octavius Patourel (Edmund Gwenn). The two women meet New Zealander William Ozone (Richard Hart) and both quietly fall in love with him, though he's far more interested in Marguerite. To get William away from her sister, the conniving Marianne encourages the young man to fulfill his dreams by enlisting in H.R.H.'s Navy, whereby he'll be shipped off to China. But William misses the boat (no pun intended) and becomes a fugitive. He and buddy Timothy Haslam (Van Heflin) pair up and ship out to New Zealand, where they found a lumber business. William gets soused one night and writes to the sister he loves, inviting her to join him in marriage - but drunkenly uses the other sister's name by mistake. Marianne, believing he meant to write to her, decides to set off for New Zealand to be with her intended. Meanwhile,
Timothy secretly pines for Marguerite - and that's only the set up for this broadly-scaled melodrama. Reportedly budgeted at $4 million, Green Dolphin Street was based on the somewhat better bestseller by Elizabeth Goudge.