The Truth About Spring (1965) – Movie Review

Hello! Thanks for stopping by. This week I’m doing a review of one of my ultimate favorite movies. Read on!

The Truth About Spring is a movie my family and I have watched all my life. We call it one of the “good ones”. The plot is fairly simple and frankly not a lot happens, in comparison to most of the others I’ve reviewed, but the whole story and how it’s played out makes it worth seeing more than once.

What I like most is the fact that the father/daughter relationship in the movie is right on in real life as well, with John Mills playing the father and his daughter Hayley Mills playing his daughter in the movie. Both act incredibly well together and along with their co-star, James MacArthur, present a funny and lovable movie I’d recommend anyone, and everyone, watch at least once in their life. 

My Synopsis

On a run-down sail boat in the Caribbean, a father and his tom-boy daughter live a simple life, relying on the ocean, abandoned shipwrecks, and unsuspecting cruise liners for their survival and livelihood. One night, after mooring alongside a wealthy yacht called the Dryad, Tommy and Spring Tyler meet the owner’s nephew, William Ashton, a young man just out of law school. He tells them he agreed to take this trip with his uncle before starting work but is now very bored. With something obviously in mind, Tommy invites Ashton to join them for a week on the Sarah Tyler, and Ashton gratefully accepts. Unfortunately for Ashton, his first meeting with Spring starts the two off on the wrong foot when he mistakes her for a boy.

Not long after they set sail they are met by the Juan Bango, a pig-sty of a ship captained by Cark and a small crew of worthless men. Knowing what they want, Tommy hides below and tells Spring to get rid of them. She tells Cark’s first mate that Tommy died a week ago from the smallpox. Not completely convinced, the men leave for the present. Tommy gets perturbed that her lie was so outlandish while Ashton requests to be informed about what is going on.

Tommy then has Ashton go with him over to meet with Cark and make a deal. He figures that as long as Ashton is there to witness anything that happens, they won’t try anything. Unfortunately, when Tommy tells them Ashton is his lawyer, the newcomer gets the raw end of the deal. He returns to the Sarah Tyler while Tommy hashes out some plan with Cark about a treasure map.

While waiting for Tommy to return, Spring and Ashton spend some time together. Her dream is to become filthy rich and she expects to when they finally find the treasure at the bottom of the map Tommy has. She assumes Ashton is rich, to his amusement, and she also assumes he’s had many girlfriends. But when he admits to her that he thinks she’s pretty and then eventually kisses her, she’s both flattered and upset. Growing up the way she has, she’s come to regard femininity as a hindrance instead of a natural occurrence to be embraced.

Tommy returns, having made a deal with Cark to meet him at the wreck site in two weeks, but being the pirates they are, Tommy knows they won’t keep their promise. Before they leave though, another “friend” arrives. Cleary, a former partner of Cark’s, wants his share of the treasure they are sure to find. Clever as always, Tommy wheedles a second deal. They both prepare to meet at the wreck but Cleary tries to overhaul them and get there first. In the end the Sarah Tyler succeeds.

Like Tommy guessed, Cark and his men are already at the island but they can’t locate the wreck. Cleary arrives on their heels and manages to get the advantage over both Tommy and Cark. Tommy wisely adheres to Cleary’s lead, which raises him in the old crooks opinion.

They all gather on the beach where Tommy says the wreck should be. With Cleary holding the gun and Cark and his men ready to grab the treasure, Tommy and Ashton are left with the dynamite and a tiny length of fuse. Ashton offers to light it for Tommy and after a few nerve-wracking seconds, the wreck is open. Suffering a scraped arm but grateful to have survived, Ashton returns to the Sarah Tyler, still acting as Tommy’s lawyer and insurance, while Tommy watches over the proceedings.

Spoilers Ahead!

The wreck turns out to be a bust and everyone is disappointed. That is, except for Tommy, who always seems to have everything under control. Cark begins to threaten him but Cleary, who is still holding the gun, has a touch of a soft heart and lets Tommy go.

With Cark and Cleary left on the beach, Tommy returns to the Sarah Tyler. When Spring finds out the wreck didn’t hold any treasure she’s at first disappointed –until Tommy shows her the $1,000 he wormed out of Cark because of the wreck.

After making a careful get-away, the Sarah Tyler goes to meet the Dryad once again as planned. Spring realizes she’s fallen in love with Ashton, which only torments her more knowing that he’ll be leaving them soon. When they arrive the next morning, Ashton gathers his belongings and prepares to leave. Obviously a bit flustered, he thanks the Tyler’s and boards the Dryad. Spring quickly escapes to the hold and bursts into tears. But when Ashton is presented to his uncle in the stern, he’s met by a handful of scantily clad women who immediately bicker for his attention. He makes a split-second decision and races back to the Sarah Tyler.

There, he quickly proposes to an ecstatic Spring who immediately accepts. Glad to see Spring get her wish, Tommy tells her not to worry about him. He’s got his maps, he says, and there’s a woman waiting for him that likes things “ship-shape and Bristol fashion”. They say good-bye and Spring and Ashton board the Dryad bound for Philadelphia. Ashton’s Uncle is delighted with Spring and Spring holds her own against the jealous floozies.

My favorite quote from the whole movie is Spring’s last words. When introduced, each woman saucily adds where they are from in attempt to intimidate Spring, for example: “Of Palm Beach, darling”. But after she is introduced as Ashton’s fiancĂ©e, she confidently replies with, “Of Catfish Key…Dah-ling.” Which sends Ashton’s Uncle into fits of laughter.

An Appealing Story

I’ve always envied Spring her life. I understand her difficulties and struggles with not being able to do and experience the things other girls do, and yet she was so free. The sea was her life. She new it like the back of her hand and handled it with ease. Her father, at one point in the movie, explains why he chose that life for them, and he said at her birth, “This one’s for freedom.” He later questions whether he was right but you have to admit, it’s still an attractive adventure.

But that’s not the only reason I’ve envied her. She had her freedom, the sea, and then she got James MacArthur! I’d say that’s a lucky girl. Except for the fact that in marrying him she left the sea. But you can’t have everything, I guess.


It’s interesting that, though they are supposedly in the Caribbean, this movie was filmed in Costa Brava, Spain. I suppose only the salty know the difference.

And that’s it for this movie review! I hope you’ve enjoyed it and will come back again.

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