Directed by John Ford
Comedy / Romance
John Wayne as Michael 'Guns' Donovan
Lee Marvin as Aloysius "Boats" Gilhooley
Jack Warden as Doc Dedham
Elizabeth Allan as Amelia Dedham
Dick Foran as Australian Navy officer
Cesar Romero as Marquis André de Lage
Dorothy Lamour as Fleur
Jacqueline Malouf as Lelani
Mike Mazurki as Sergeant Menkowicz
Marcel Dalio as Father Cluzeot
Jon Fong as Mr. Eu
Donovan’s Reef is the name of a bar owned by ‘Guns’ Donovan. Guns and his best friend ‘Boats’ Gilhooley have an interesting way of celebrating their shared birthday on December 7th--they get together at Donovan’s Reef, and have an all out barroom brawl. The tradition is interrupted by their friend ‘Doc’ Dedham, who announces that his daughter is coming from Boston, and he needs his buddy’s help. Doc has had three children with a native princess who has passed on, and he fears his daughter would never accept them. He asks Guns to act as their father during her visit. Guns immediately regrets the decision when he sees the stunning Amelia Dedham, and takes a liking to her. Guns isn’t the only one though, although another suitor is much more interested in her money than Amelia herself. Although she’s not very friendly at first, she warms up to Guns until she discovers that the three children are actually her father’s. Can Guns make it up to Amelia before she heads back home? Maybe after another big barroom brawl or two!
Notes: Donovan’s Reef is an uncharacteristically lighthearted film for John Wayne and John Ford, their last together in fact. Ford and Wayne had a very close working relationship spanning over 50 years that yielded some of the great classics in John Wayne’s career. It is not disputed that John Ford played a great role in making John Wayne the iconic star that he still is today. Ford gave Wayne his breakthrough role in Stagecoach , in which Ford was nominated for both Best Picture, and Best Director. Films that Ford and Wayne made together include, Stagecoach , The Long Voyage Home , They Were Expendable , Fort Apache , 3 Godfathers , She Wore a Yellow Ribbon , Rio Grande , The Quiet Man , The Searchers , The Wings of Eagles, The Horse Soldiers , The Alamo , The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance , How the West Was Won , finally concluding with Donovan’s Reef.
Ward Bond starred with John Wayne in several pictures, including The Searchers , Rio Bravo , The Quiet Man and Hondo . It is not surprising that Wayne and Bond starred in so many movies together as they were good friends from playing football together at the University of Southern California.