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  • Donovan's Reef (Ws Sub) [DVD] [1963]
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Donovan's Reef (Ws Sub) [DVD] [1963]

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Product details

  • Actors: John Wayne, Lee Marvin, Elizabeth Allen, Jack Warden, Cesar Romero
  • Directors: John Ford
  • Writers: Edmund Beloin, Frank S. Nugent, James A. Michener, James Edward Grant
  • Producers: John Ford
  • Format: Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Colour, DVD-Video, Subtitled, Widescreen, PAL
  • Language: English, French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: To be announced
  • Studio: Paramount
  • DVD Release Date: 5 Jun. 2001
  • Run Time: 109 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005ASGF
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 94,217 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Wayne/Marvin/Allen ~ Donovan's Reef

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Spike Owen TOP 500 REVIEWER on 24 Aug. 2011
Format: DVD
You hear the names John Ford and John Wayne and one automatically thinks of Westerns, sprawling landscapes and machismo in bunches. Odd then that their last collaboration should be a knock about comedy set on a paradise isle. Perhaps even odder is that it should turn out to be one of their most entertaining films. Donovan's Reef finds the two Johns in very relaxed mood, as is the rest of the cast I might add. A cast that includes Lee Marvin, Mike Mazurki, Jack Warden, Cesar Romero, Dorothy Lamour and the lovely Elizabeth Allen.

Speaking personally, I found the film far more rewarding by not knowing much about it before hand, I really only ventured into it out of loyalty to the Johns and the Marv. So in that, this isn't much of a review as such, because I would simply urge people to give it a go. Why you ask?, well because it's one of those films that can brighten your day when things have gone dark, you got The Duke and The Marv slugging each other at regular intervals, not in the normal way associated with these guys, but jocular-with this biff bang machismo comes laughs a plenty. We have Romero and his beard on prime slime mode, Allen as delicious as she is prim and proper and the Kaua'i location work gorgeously realised by William H. Clothier's photography. It's not just a comedy either. Under the mirth we find Ford dealing in thematics such as anti-racism, anti preconceptions and one of his pet leanings of brotherhood.

Donovan's Reef is a smashing film, it's far from perfect, something the principals were aware of. But in the end it's obvious that all involved just said to hell with it, lets enjoy it and hope the audience buys into that attitude as well. One can only hope that you do buy into it, and thus get as much fun from it as yours truly most assuredly did. 8/10
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Format: DVD
I found this film watchable, but it was still a disappointment, as I expected much more from such a great director and two of my favourite actors. Honestly, I think that this is the only film that John Ford at least partially messed up. Below, more of my impressions, with some limited SPOILERS.

The story takes place on Haleakaloha (a fictitious island), part of French Polynesia. Other than its native Polynesian population and some French immigrants (including the governor, local priest and some nuns) three Americans, veterans of US Navy, stayed there after WWII. The most eminent of them is William Dedham (Jack Warden), scion of a rich family from Boston, a greatly respected doctor in charge of local hospital. During the war "Doc" Dedham married Manulani, the queen of Haleakaloha and their marriage produced three children: teenage Leilani, young Sarah and little Luke. Tragically, when giving birth to the third child, Manulani died...

The other two American immigrants (and "Doc" Dedham best pals) are Michael "Guns" Donovan (John Wayne) and Thomas "Boats" Gilhooley (Lee Marvin). Those two men are a lot in common: they share the ownership of local most infamous watering hole for sailors ("Donovan's Reef"), they are both hardened bachelors and they also have the same birthday (7 December, of all dates...). Best friends since ever and forever, for some reason they always quarrelled on their common birthday. It lasted so long, that even if everybody, themselves included, forgot what all of that was about, they still have a traditional, highly ritualised and very public bare-fists fight every 7 December - to the greatest delight of local population, the lone constable ("gendarme") included...
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Bob Salter TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 7 Nov. 2012
Format: DVD
It's a pity that John Ford and John Wayne's last film together wasn't a western. It started with "Stagecoach" in 1939 and ended with "Donovan's Reef" in 1963. The two had made the elegiac western "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" just before, which would have been a far better note for them to end on. Instead they decided to have a Hawaiian 'vacation' location shoot, where the two gathered together friends, family and a few old cronies together and had a great time whilst making a movie along the way. Who can blame them I guess? They might argue it was the perfect way to end the collaboration! The hard drinking Wayne had a soul mate in Lee Marvin, so the alcohol flowed freely. Ford to his chagrin was a little past his own hard drinking days. It all adds up to a nice busmans holiday at the expense of Paramount pictures.

As for the film itself, it is a typical Ford Irish-American yarn set in French Polynesia, scripted by James Edward Grant and Ford's favourite writer Frank Nugent. Wayne plays bar owner Michael 'Guns' Donovan, and Marvin was cast as his rollicking friendly rival Boats Gilhooley. The two spend lots of time trying to knock each other senseless, like friends do! The story is pretty loosely woven and involves Wayne looking after a friends children when the friends grown up daughter arrives in the attractive form of Elizabeth Allen. Interspersed with some pretty crude Fordian Oirish humour Wayne and Allen become romantically involved, despite the fact Wayne drags her around in caveman style and is ......errr a bit advanced in years for her. Maureen O'Hara was usually at the receiving end of this sort of treatment from Wayne. He even gives poor Allen a good bottom spanking, which she seemed to enjoy! Good girl!
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