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3 Godfathers (1948)

Passed | | Drama, Western | 13 January 1949 (USA)
When 3 outlaws on the run find a dying woman and her newborn baby in the desert they vow to save the child.



(screenplay), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Pedro Roca Fuerte (as Pedro Armendariz)
Posse Man #1
Deputy Curly
Jack Pennick ...
Fred Libby ...
Michael Dugan ...
Posse Man #2


Three outlaws on the run discover a dying woman and her baby. They swear to bring the infant to safety across the desert, even at the risk of their own lives. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

dying | desert | outlaw | newborn | baby | See All (105) »


Color By Technicolor See more »


Drama | Western


Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

13 January 1949 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Three Godfathers  »

Box Office


$1,243,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)



Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


This film inspired the anime film Tokyo Godfathers, as it takes a few plot points from it. (Three unlikely people find a baby and try to return him to his parents). See more »


After the three godfathers rob the bank, a covered wagon is seen passing by them as they board their horses but in the next scene they are riding in front of the wagon. See more »


Judge: [during sentencing] Robert Marmaduke Hightower...
Perley 'Buck' Sweet: Marmaduke? Haw, haw...
Robert Marmaduke Sangster Hightower: Perley!
[crowd laughs]
See more »


Version of Hell's Heroes (1929) See more »


The Holy City
Music by Michael Maybrick (alias Stephen Adams)
Lyrics by Frederic Weatherly
[Sung by patrons at bar]
See more »

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User Reviews

Great Ford Western
23 December 2006 | by (upstate ny) – See all my reviews

I just watched this on TCM didn't even know that it was coming on and glad I did.

This is the first time I ever saw this film all the way through, before I've only caught snippets of it here and there as I flipped through the channels.

I have to honestly say run don't walk down to your nearest video retailer and get the DVD. There is really nothing not to like about this film, and its even got a tie in to Christmas! Directed by John Ford as a remake of his silent film "The Marked Men" (1919) which had already been made twice before the 1919 version, lol. It was also John Ford's first Technicolor film and its somewhat unique in that it actually doesn't use Monument Valley as its location.

It stars a lot of Ford's stable of actors, John Wayne, Harry Carry Jr., Ward Bond, Hank Worden, Ben Johnson, and actor Pedro Armendáriz who is just great in the role of one of the title's godfathers, Wayne & Carry Jr. being the others.

This film is now up there with "The Searchers" as my favorite Ford film. It doesn't have that "knock you over the head civics lesson" sermonizing that a lot of Fords films have, its got a little bit of schmaltz and melodrama in very small dollops that you can swallow & which is OK.

But don't get this expecting showdown gunfights, there aren't any, and the film still works.

Basically the story line: Three men ride into the town of New Jersusalem, Arizona to rob its bank. In the process Carry Jr. is wounded in the shoulder and looses his horse as they ride out of town into the desert, pursued by Sheriff Sweet (Bond) and posse members that include actors Worden and Johnson.

Sweet shoots the gangs water bag, that they don't discover until they are way out in the desert so they have to make for water. Sweet knows this and hops a train with the posse to the nearest water tank.

The gang foiled in their quest for water must make for another water hole to the north there they become the "three godfathers" of the title, I wont give any more away.

This film definitely had to have made an impression on Leone. Two things stood out for me, the first is the whole film is composed of some of the best scenery I've in a Western, scenery that will recall to you vividly Tuco & Blondie in the desert, this was shot in Death Valley, Lone Pine and the Mojave Desert, all fantastic locations, it will remind you also of Yellow Sky (too bad that film wasn't shot in color). The film takes place almost all in the desert. Its like GBU in that it becomes more than just a Western, you'll see what I mean.

The second thing that stood out is the great performance of Pedro Armendáriz what a great Mexican Actor who should have been a main character in a lot of Westerns, whats up with that, not only will he remind you a bit of a "nice" Tuco but it even looks like he's wearing Tuco's hat (the one he gets from the gunsmith), or vice versa lol.

The town sets are again spot on, and there is some great steam locomotive footage, all in all a beautiful and enjoyable film.

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