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Donovan's Reef (1963)

Not Rated  |   |  Adventure, Comedy, Romance  |  12 June 1963 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.9/10 from 5,398 users  
Reviews: 61 user | 20 critic

'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.



(screenplay) (as Frank Nugent) , (screenplay), 2 more credits »
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Complete credited cast:
Elizabeth Allen ...
Jacqueline Malouf ...
Cherylene Lee ...
Sarah 'Sally' Dedham
Luki Dedham (as Tim Stafford)
Boston Attorney Francis X. O'Brien
Jon Fong ...
Mister Eu


'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 <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Gangway...For This Years BIG Adventure! See more »


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

12 June 1963 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Aventurero del Pacífico  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$2,686,585 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


John Wayne's character's full name is Michael Patrick Donovan. However, he is rarely referred to by his given name. He is called either "Guns" or, occasionally, "Donovan" by most people throughout the movie. His full name is used only once, by Amelia when reading from the monument. He is called "Mike" several times, including the Captain of the Araner, LaFleur and Andre. As "Michael" by Sister Angelique (in French), Sister Mary Margaret, Andre and by Amelia on several occasions. Most notably Amelia, during their last scene, where she addresses him as "Michael" three times and "Michael Donovan" once. See more »


Ameilia presents Gilhooley with a Christmas present then goes out back of the bar to confront Donovan. When she returns, not more than a couple of minutes later, Gilhooley already has the train set put together on the bar and is playing with it. See more »


Ameilia Sarah Dedham: Captain, I should like to charter the Araner for however long it takes me to find my father and take me back to Honolulu.
Captain Martin: Um... well, as to that...
Michael Patrick 'Guns' Donovan: The Araner is not for charter; she has too much draft for the Low Islands. Reefs and coral heads.
Ameilia Sarah Dedham: Thank you Mr. Donovan. I was speaking to the sailing master. Captain, it should only take...
Michael Patrick 'Guns' Donovan: But I OWN the Araner, and the Inisfar and the Inisfree, and several others. You might say that we are rivals, competitors in the shipping business.
See more »


Referenced in Film Geek (2005) See more »


Waltzing Matilda
Music by Christina McPherson
Lyrics by A.B. 'Banjo' Paterson
Sung by the Australian sailors
See more »

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User Reviews

Paradise Isle
9 April 2004 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

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.

49 of 54 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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