This is really a pretty good movie, but honestly I don't get why Guns Donovan (John Wayne) and Boats Gilhooley (Lee Marvin)( are always fighting. This is something that is a tradition from the war. However, as for our current story Donovan has a bar Donovan's Reef. Donovan entertains the daughter of the local doctor's (Jack Warden) (and also Navy friend) Ameilia Dedham (Elizabeth Allen), claiming to be the father of the doctor's children so as to preserve the doctor's good name. The doctor is away visiting other islands. Daughter is visiting in order to establish the poor character of her father, to cut him out of the shipping business. Shipping is also Donovan's business, but on a local basis in the islands. The doctor, Donovan and Gilhooley are all left overs form the war. They were marooned on the island and the locals helped them stay clear of the Japanese, and so they decided to stay. Dr. Dedham started a new family, and felt the islands needed him more than his family in Boston.
Turns out the doctor's oldest island daughter of the doctor is also the local princess. Her mother died in childbirth to a younger sibling. She is due to honored as the princess upon her birthday. The doctor eventually returns, but by this time Donovan and Ameilia have fallen for each other. Haver Ameilia does not want her children to have a bartender for a father. However this problem has already been resolved as the bar has been gifted to Gilhooley.
This movie is more a year in the life of the characters involved. There is reconciliation and family love and attachment. So I guess the theme is one of family. There is another suitor, the local mayor, who hearing that Ameilia is rich wants to become her husband. However he is found out to be a heel. This is a romantic comedy, and Wayne excels in this genre. However, similar to other movies he does the spanking thing in this one as well. In todays society spanking is no longer funny.
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