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Donvan's Reef

"Donovan's Reef" on DVD

Rollicking and Rambunctious

Donovan's Reef is a saloon on a south Pacific island. It's owned by John Wayne, an ex-navy guy who, at war's end, decided to stay in paradise rather than go back to the USA.

After seeing the beautiful island on which he lives, we think he made the right decision.

He's there with two buddies, played by Lee Marvin and Jack Warden, the latter of whom is a doctor who abandoned his Boston family when he went off to war and who hasn't been back since.

Trouble arrives in paradise when his daughter shows up from Beantown to check the place - and him - out. She was sent to dig up dirt so she and her compatriots can con him out of his inheritance of shares in their business.

Things aren't what they seem, however. Warden's character has married again and has children by his second wife. The problem is that the kids aren't all-white (their mother was Polynesian) and they figure that won't play in Boston.

My, how things have changed! Boston, the liberal/socialist heartland of America, is portrayed here (and perhaps was) as an ultra conservative backwater rife with racial prejudice. It's enough to make you laugh at the hypocritical antics of Senator Ted Kennedy et al in today's world.

But we digress...

The daughter (Elizabeth Allen) shows up, a stranger in paradise, as Wayne, Marvin, and the islanders try to fool her into thinking the kids are actually Wayne's. Warden is off island tending to some medical business, so Allen gets a feel for the island and its lifestyle before meeting the father she's never seen.

But she loves the island, and the people, and falls head over heels in love with Warden/Wayne's precocious kids. She also, initially reluctantly, falls in love with Wayne.

Donovan's Reef is a marvelous yarn, told rippingly by director John Ford. The performances are first rate, the locations are fabulous, and the irreverently happy lifestyle of the islanders is enough to make one want to chuck everything and move there.

Watch for a beautifully moving Christmas pageant that incorporates bits of Christianity, history, and humor.

The anamorphic widescreen DVD (16x9 TV compatible) looks great and the Dolby Digital mono sound is fine as well. Extras are limited to the trailer.

Donovan's Reef, from Paramount Home Video
108 min. widescreen (16x9 TV compatible), Dolby Digital mono
Starring John Wayne, Lee Marvin, Elizabeth Allen, Jack Warden, Cesar Romero, Dorothy Lamour
Written by Frank Nugent and James Edward Grant
Produced and directed by John Ford.


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Updated May 13, 2006