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Ryan's Daughter (1970)

aka Ryan's Daughter

"A story of love...set against the violence of rebellion"

Directed By: 
Written By: 
Details: 195 mins · English · R (USA)


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Small Charles Shaughnessy
Small Father Collins
No_movie_poster Randolph Doryan
Small Michael
Small Thomas Ryan
Small Rosy Ryan


Small David Lean Director
No_movie_poster Anthony Havelock-Allan Production
No_movie_poster Robert Bolt Writer
No_movie_poster Norman Savage Editing


"A story of love...set against the violence of rebellion"

"A story of love. Filmed by David Lean."


The film takes place in the imaginary isolated village of Kirrary, on the Dingle Peninsula in County Kerry Ireland during World War I. Rosy Ryan (Sarah Miles) is bored with her humdrum life and fantasizes about the outside world — much to the chagrin of the local priest, Father Hugh Collins (Trevor Howard), an old, sharp-witted and highly influential person who knows all that goes on in the village. Rosy falls in love with the local schoolmaster, Charles Shaughnessy (Robert Mitchum). She imagines, though he tries to convince her otherwise, that he will add excitement to her life. They marry, and Rosy quickly becomes discontented.

The villagers are nationalist and exclusionary, taunting Michael (John Mills) (the village idiot) and British soldiers from a nearby army base. They are resentful of Rosy, the spoilt daughter of the local publican Tom Ryan (Leo McKern). Ryan pretends to be a staunch nationalist– in an early scene, he strongly supports the recently suppressed Easter Rising, referring to the rebels as "our boys"– but in truth he is an informer for the British.

Major Randolph Doryan (Christopher Jones) arrives to take command of the local army base. A veteran of World War I, he has been awarded a Victoria Cross, but has a crippled leg and suffers from shell shock. Rosy is instantly and passionately attracted to him. Michael's absent-minded banging of his leg on the pub bench causes Doryan to flashback to the trenches. He collapses. When he recovers, he is comforted by Rosy. The two passionately kiss until they are interrupted by the arrival of Ryan and the townspeople. The next day, the two meet in the forest for a 'gauzy', passionate liaison.

Charles becomes suspicious of Rosy, but keeps his thoughts to himself. While on a trip to the beach with his students, he finds Rosy and Doryan's footprints in the sand and tracks them to a cave; later he finds a conch shell in Rosy's dresser, but refuses to confront her about it. Michael has also seen the two lovers, however, and having improvised a British officer's uniform, he tips off the townspeople about the affair. The townspeople turn on Rosy, deriding her as a "British officer's whore".

One night, in the midst of a fierce storm, IRB leader Tim O'Leary (Barry Foster)– who had killed a police constable earlier– and a small band of comrades arrive in Ryan's pub and strong-arm him into helping them recover a shipment of German arms from the storm. When they leave, Ryan is left alone in possession of the phone, and tips off the British. While doing so he complains: "God, why are you doing this to me?" implying that he supports the British out of genuine loyalty rather than for gain - as would not have known it, had he failed to inform them.

Soon, the entire town arrives at the beach to help O'Leary, but he and his followers are stopped by Major Doryan and his men on the road and arrested. O'Leary is shot and wounded by Doryan while attempting to escape.

Charles tells Rosy he is aware of her infatuation, but hopes it will pass. Though Rosy declares the affair over, Charles decides to leave her. That night he sees her return to Doryan. In dismay, he wanders in his nightclothes to the beach, where in the morning Father Collins finds him.

A mob, accusing Rosy of having informed the British of the arms shipment, strip her and shear off her hair. Father Collins arrives before they can do any worse. Ryan, deeply ashamed, has been unable to confess that he's the informer. Rosy, who guesses his guilt, takes the punishment.

Meanwhile, Doryan walks along the beach and comes across Michael, who leads him to a cache of arms–-including dynamite–-that was not recovered. After Michael runs off, Doryan commits suicide by detonating the explosives.

The next day, Rosy and Charles leave for Dublin, enduring the taunts of the villagers as they go. As Charles gets on the small bus, Father Collins counsels him against ending the marriage. Just before the bus leaves, Rosy, who had previously found Michael repulsive to her, very touchingly kisses him on the cheek.

Release Dates:

DVD : 2006-02-07