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The Truth About Spring aka Pirates of Spring Cove (1965)

Appearing as William Ashton

Synopsis from the Universal City Studios Pressbook:

Thirty years of living by his wits in the Caribbean have left Tommy Tyler (John Mills) with some dangerous rivals; the Sarah Tyler, a small, dirty fishing boat; a somewhat unusual philosophy of life; and an unselfconsciously beautiful daughter, Spring (Hayley Mills).

Tommy has raised Spring in complete freedom, away from the hypocrisies and conventions of civilization. Spring’s life aboard the Sarah Tyler has been free, but it has also been lonely. Now, at 18, Spring’s reaction to her own developing femininity is one of resentment.

Tommy realizes her need for young companionship, and when the luxurious yacht Dryad hoves into sight, and a highly presentable young lawyer, William Ashton (James MacArthur) rows over, Tommy recognizes him as a romantic possibility for Spring, and invites him aboard.

Ashton -- equally lonely on the Dryad amid the isolation of a cruise arranged by his multimillionaire uncle, Skelton (David Tomlinson) -- accepts Tommy’s invitation to spend the rest of his vacation with them, and moves into the Sarah Tyler complete with Harvard accent, Philadelphia manners, and the first pair of pajamas Spring has ever seen. Despite herself, Spring is forced to admit that it’s fun having Ashton aboard.

The long-dreaded arrival of the Juan Bango, the property of Tommy’s bitter rival, Cark (Lionel Jeffries), serves to increase Spring’s respect for Ashton. Cark sends his mate, Sellers (Harry Andrews), and a couple of sailors to try to get possession of a treasure map Tommy has, and Ashton helps a mop brandishing Spring repel the boarders.

Tommy realizes he will not be able to shake Cark and his partner Cleary (Niall MacGinnis), as long as they know he has the map, and he resorts to guile. Taking Ashton to visit Cark aboard the latter’s boat, he and Ashton discuss the legal ownership of the $1,000,000 in gold to which the map can lead them. He then arranges to rendezvous with Cark at the sunken treasure’s location ten days later.

Satisfied that he has disposed of Cark for a while, Tommy returns to the Sarah with a large supply of ship’s stores conned from the furious Sellers, and sends Spring and Ashton to a nearby beach to recover additional supplies from a secret cache.
Ashton and Spring row ashore, and the young lawyer watches admiringly as Spring reveals a trap door leading to an underground cave. Ashton, his emotions aroused, kisses her.

Shocked, Spring slaps him, and her angry tirade is interrupted by the sharp sound of Tommy’s bosun’s whistle. Spring spots the sail of Cleary’s boat on the horizon, and she and Ashton barely get back to the Sarah before the Natches drops anchor, and Cleary, accompanied by two sailors, rows over to call on them.
Cleary pulls a gun on Tommy, but Spring comes to the rescue with a resounding kick in the back of Cleary’s head. As Cleary staggers across the deck, Ashton grabs the gun and Tommy makes a deal with the dazed Cleary to work together. Tommy sails the Sarah Tyler to the sunken treasure ship’s location with Cleary following in the Natches.

Spring and Ashton go ashore on a gull’s nesting trip. Forced to sleep overnight on the beach, Ashton awakes to find Spring in his arms.

They find Cleary and Cark have joined forces to make Tommy split the loot. Ashton and Tommy go ashore to supervise the recovery of the map’s hoard, but the wreck reveals only the powdery skeletons of hundreds of slaves.

Furious with Tommy for conning him, Cark again heads for the Sarah Tyler, when a barrel of dynamite is loosed by Tommy, panicking Cark’s crew who jump overboard. In the confusion, the Sarah Tyler sails away to rendezvous with the Dryad.

As Spring realizes that Ashton is returning to civilization, she asks him to kiss her goodbye. This time there is no slap, and his whispered assurances that he finds her beautiful sends Spring to the cabin in happy tears.

Tommy smiles to himself; his match-making has worked out, but his smile turns to concern as Ashton leaves the Sarah Tyler without having proposed to Spring.

Ashton boards the Dryad, but the pampered girls who now are on the pleasure cruise displease him. He shouts to his uncle to wait, and when he returns, it is with Spring on his arm, and with Tommy’s admonition to keep her busy, preferably with lots of children.

To view a full gallery of images from this movie click here.

Hayley Mills, James MacArthur

James MacArthur, John Mills

James MacArthur, Hayley Mills

John Mills, Hayley Mills, James MacArthur

James MacArthur, Hayley Mills

James MacArthur

James MacArthur, Hayley Mills

James MacArthur

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