Donovan's Reef
Release Date: June 12, 1963

Donovan's Reef
Time has not been kind to this 1963 film by Director John Ford. The trailer proclaims folks will enjoy a "riotous adventure" starring John Wayne as Donovan and Lee Marvin as Gilhooley. And no doubt plenty did enjoy this film back in 1963. Two ex-Navy buddies  throw plenty of punches and beer bottles at each other for an old grudge, but the heart of the movie revolves around a visit to a South Pacific Island by Bostonian Amelia Sarah Dedham. She is in search of  her long lost father, who must be declared  morally corrupt, before Amelia can gain control of an $18 million estate.  Donovan stands in as the father for the real Mr. Dedham because the two men fear  straightlaced Amelia will not understand the existence of Dedham's three other children fathered through a marriage to a native Islander.     

The characterization of the islanders and Orientals leaves one dismayed but  this was 1963 and times have changed. The filmgoer is treated to exotic island landscapes and plenty of interior shots of a barroom with one slot machine. Don't try to read too much into the action. For instance, there seems to be a battle of the sexes going on between Donovan and Amelia, played by good-looking Elizabeth Allen,  but it's hard to figure out exactly what the battle is all about. You like machismo? Wayne does pick Allen up and give her some smacks on the derriere which seems to calm her down. Much is made of Amelia's choice of an appropriate bathing suit to wear. A Victorian-style full coverage sailor girl costume is selected for her, but she shocks Donovan when she disrobes, revealing a normal one-piece bathing suit underneath. She then challenges Donovan to a swimming race to shore from his boat. Naturally she wins. Gosh Ameilia is not so prissy after all!

Wayne, of course, was a big box office draw and the trailer refers to him as the "Two Fisted Dynamo".  The film was shot on the island of Kauai with a budget of $2.6 million. Ford used his own yacht the Ariner in the filming. Nostalgia fans take  note: this was the  last film that Wayne and Ford worked on together.


Copyright: Peter Fokes (2003)
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