Donovan's Reef

Donovan's Reef

1963, NR, 109 min. Directed by John Ford. Starring John Wayne, Lee Marvin, Jack Warden, Elizabeth Allen, Cesar Romero, Dorothy Lamour.

REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Thu., July 29, 1999

I never truly understood John Ford until I began appreciating his comedies. Donovan's Reef was the one that did it for me. Supremely goofy in tone, the film pits Wayne (in his last Ford film) and Marvin as drunken pals who careen from one friendly brawl to the next. A Pacific island paradise becomes their silly playpen.

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More John Ford Films
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
This is the American classic that uses the now-famous line: "When the legend becomes fact, print the legend." Ford addresses the complexity of heroism in a poetic manner.

Marjorie Baumgarten, July 29, 1999

The Searchers
Regarded by many as Ford's masterpiece and one of the greatest films of all time, this John Wayne Western is a meditation on survival, the loss of faith, and the death of heroes.

Louis Black, Oct. 1, 1993

More by Marjorie Baumgarten
Story of America's itinerant population wanders too much

Feb. 19, 2021

The Reason I Jump
Poetic insight into autism, based on Naoki Higashida memoir

Jan. 8, 2021


Donovan's Reef, John Ford, John Wayne, Lee Marvin, Jack Warden, Elizabeth Allen, Cesar Romero, Dorothy Lamour

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