Captain Zeb Hedge (David Carradine), Captain Jerry Burgess (Rip Torn), and Captain Perez Ryder (Bruce Dern) are spending their retirement years together in a house on Cape Cod in 1905. Tired of the messiness of their place and the substandard quality of their meals, they decide to convince a woman to marry one of them and cook and clean for all three. They throw coins to see who will get married, and Jerry wins. Zeb writes an ad for the newspaper, and there is a response from Martha Snow (Mariel Hemingway), a widow who has been through a lot of suffering and knows how to take care of people. She's sure of what she wants and decides to visit the captains.
John Bartlett (Charles Durning), a zealous Christian, gets furious over a local billiard hall on the property of Web Saunders (John Savage) and sets fire to it. While leaving the scene, he suffers a heart attack and is taken in by Zeb and his friends. When Martha arrives, Jerry hides; he's already been married before and is not keen on this arrangement. Zeb and Perez are very impressed with her as a take-charge person with many talents, including being a nurse to John, who is bedridden.
This romantic comedy is an old-fashioned movie that will interest long-time fans of Carradine, Torn, and Dern who together have given us hours of pleasure in their various roles as idiosyncratic men in countless movies. The Golden Boys has been adapted and directed by Daniel Adams from a novel by Joseph Lincoln. The theme is also ancient and seaworthy: the course of love is never what we think it is going to be.