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'Guns' Donovan prefers carousing with his pals Doc Dedham and 'Boats' Gilhooley, until Dedham's high-society daughter Amelia shows up in their South Seas paradise. Written by
Jim Beaver <firstname.lastname@example.org>
My conceptions about the South Pacific were formed when I saw this movie at the Elm Theatre in Brooklyn growing up. It has an honored place in my collection.
First off that music does get you. Every John Ford film is marked by a great use of music, in his westerns the use of traditional western themes pace the action. Here in Donovan's Reef the music under the credits sets the mood for the story set on this South Seas Paradise.
Secondly this was the last film that John Ford made with John Wayne. I believe this is the most successful actor/director relationship in the history of film by just about any standard you want to use, box office, quality of work, etc. The partnership went out on a high note.
John Wayne's westerns are usually a self contained world that operates on the principles of his universe. This film does also, but here it is more believable. This mixed group of people really do know the secret of living and let living. And the outside world occasionally does intrude and violently as the World War II background of the principal characters demonstrates.
This is also a film about believing stereotypes. John Wayne, Lee Marvin and the rest of the island believe Elizabeth Allen will be a racist. She's hurt by the abandonment of her father (Jack Warden) but she does come to accept her half-siblings. The film is anti-racist, but it also teaches a great moral lesson in not making your mind up about people prematurely.
The comedy as in all Ford films is heavy handed, but I still crack up at Wayne and Marvin and their escapades.
This is what the definition of escapist entertainment is.
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