Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5. USA, 1963. Paramount Pictures, John Ford Productions. Story by Edmund Beloin, Screenplay by Frank S. Nugent, James Edward Grant. Cinematography by William H. Clothier. Produced by John Ford. Music by Cyril J. Mockridge. Production Design by Eddie Imazu, Hal Pereira. Costume Design by Edith Head. Film Editing by Otho Lovering.
Lighthearted romp that shows the great John Ford having less commanding presence over his narrative but still possessing the accustomed level of aesthetic filmmaking quality that he brought to his best works. John Wayne and Lee Marvin are excellent as two buddies of a trio living on a Pacific Island since the end of World War II. They step in to help their third wheel Jack Warden when his estranged daughter (Elizabeth Allen) announces that she is coming to the island to settle the matter of an inheritance Warden will be receiving from a recently deceased relative. Wayne and Marvin know that their friend stands to lose his money if prim and uptight Allen discovers that he lives with the children of his late native wife, one he took years after abandoning his first family, so they pull a La Cage Aux Folles of sorts to prevent her finding out. It’s an interesting film to see years after Ford’s investigation of racism in American westerns in The Searchers; here the questioning of bigotry is about as effective as it would be in a Rogers and Hammerstein musical, with sing-songy children and garlanded natives doing little more than greeting newly arrived white people on the beach with “exotic” musical numbers. That said, it’s boatloads of fun to watch, and the moments of reconciliation between father and daughter more than make up for the ridiculously unbelievable romance that springs up between her and Wayne, who is not only old enough to be her father but seriously looks it.