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Three Faces West (1940)

Approved  |   |  Adventure, Drama, Romance  |  3 July 1940 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.3/10 from 498 users  
Reviews: 15 user | 13 critic

Viennese surgeon Dr. Braun and his daughter Leni come to a small town in North Dakota as refugees from Hitler. When the winds of the Dust Bowl threaten the town, John Phillips leads the ... See full summary »



(original screenplay), (original screenplay), 2 more credits »
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Complete credited cast:
Dr. Karl Braun
Spencer Charters ...
Dr. 'Nunk' Atterbury
Helen MacKellar ...
Mrs. Welles
Dr. Eric Von Scherer
Sonny Bupp ...
Billy Welles
Wade Boteler ...
Mr. Harris, Department of Agriculture Official
Clem Higgins
Russell Simpson ...
Charles Waldron ...
Dr. William Thorpe
Wendell Niles ...
Man-on-the-Street Radio Announcer


Viennese surgeon Dr. Braun and his daughter Leni come to a small town in North Dakota as refugees from Hitler. When the winds of the Dust Bowl threaten the town, John Phillips leads the townsfolk in moving to greener pastures in Oregon. He falls for Leni, but she is betrothed to the man who helped her and her father escape from the Third Reich. She must make a decision between the two men. Written by Jim Beaver <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


What barrier mars the path of their destiny...the fulfillment of their right to happiness? (original poster) See more »


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

3 July 1940 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Caminho do Ocidente  »

Box Office


$100,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA "High Fidelity" Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Wendell Niles, the "man on the street" reporter after the big dust storm, was a real radio announcer. He worked on many shows of the golden-age of radio including "The Burns and Allen Show." See more »


During the final scenes of the North Dakota town (c.55 minutes) there are taller, modern buildings in the background. See more »


Farmer: There ain't no college professor gonna teach me how to farm my land.
John Phillips: How much land you got left that hasn't blown away? Look, men, let's quit arguing and kidding ourselves. We're all in the same boat. And we're all gonna sink unless we stick together. Every one of us has been served with a "dispossess notice," not by Uncle Sam or a bank or some mortgage company, but by a little ol' gal we've been kicking in the teeth, Mother Nature.
See more »


Featured in American Experience: Civilian Conservation Corps (2009) See more »

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User Reviews

Great performances, especially by John Wayne, in a good story

In a subdued and understated role, John Wayne is excellent.

Other commenters have placed the action in North Dakota and in Oklahoma, but I never heard a home stated. In fact, I thought the script specifically avoided mentioning one. (Maybe like the Simpsons' Springfield?)

The situation and the timing would seem to indicate Oklahoma, but in truth it really doesn't matter, and the film can be seen as somewhat of an allegory, as representative of the dilemma many poor farmers faced during the Dust Bowl and Depression days.

Regardless, it is worth saying again that John Wayne gave one of his best performances, that his character was a different one from what he so often played and he demonstrated that he was by gosh an actor!

The chief bad guy also stood out, and should have, being played as it was by the great Trevor Bardette.

The subplot, the almost thwarted love story, was poignant and timely, and there was a wonderful line spoken by the Wayne character: "We get all tangled up in other people's feelings and duties and obligations," a fact that gets so many people, and even nations, into trouble.

"Three Faces West" is a very good movie, with great direction, some superior camera angles, and possibly some great stock footage, as well as great acting, from Wayne to the atmosphere players.

All of that with an intelligent script makes it well worth watching.

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