The logic behind inflating Robert Bolt's minimalist romantic drama Ryan's Daughter into a 12-million-dollar epic seems to have been "When David Lean directs, it's a super-spectacular." Sarah Miles (who at the time was married to Robert Bolt) stars as Rosy, the daughter of Irish pub keeper Tom Ryan (Leo McKern). Married to tweedy, sexless schoolmaster Charles Shaughnessy (Robert Mitchum), restless Rosy has an affair with British officer Randolph Doryan (Christopher Jones). When village idiot Michael (an Oscar-winning turn by John Mills) innocently uncovers evidence of Rosy's indiscretion, the local gossips begin wagging their tongues. Shaughnessy chooses to remain above the scandal, assuming that Rosy will come to her senses. Later, Rosy's father informs on a group of IRA insurgents, hoping to keep the peace in his village. The locals assume that Rosy, still enamored of Doryan, is the informer, and exact a humiliating punishment. Realizing that his very presence has caused disgrace for Rosy, Doryan kills himself. For Rosy and Shaughnessy, life goes on...not happily ever after, just ever after. The film was lensed on location in Ireland by frequent Lean collaborator Freddie Young.
by Hal Erickson synopsis