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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 <email@example.com>
`Three Godfathers' is cinematographically one of John Ford's finest looking Westerns. The location filming is breathtaking and comes as close as can be found in capturing the beauty of Death Valley. That the story is relatively straightforward, pretty fairly untenable and in Ford fashion highly sentimental is rather inconsequential. This is a great looking movie shot primarily in one of the most starkly striking places on Earth.
John Wayne, Pedro Armendáriz and Harry Carey Jr. (one of his first roles) are bank robbers on the run, saddled with an infant they have promised to care for to its dying mother. They plunge into desperate straights as they flee across the desert. That no part of Death Valley lies close to Arizona (the story is set there) is of no account but again as in all Ford movies his vision of the American West ignores the hundreds of thousand square miles that is not Utah, Monument Valley, or as in this case, Death Valley. And that he pioneered an American View Of The West is undeniable.
Winton C. Hoch was responsible for the cinematography; he later demonstrated his art in `The Searchers' (most famous) and actually won an Oscar for `She Wore A Yellow Ribbon'. His use of color film was extraordinary and any movie he made is best viewed on the big screen.
There are numerous references to Christian views of morality sprinkled throughout the movie; Christmas is revered as the traditional American celebration, a Bible figures in Wayne's worst moments as he struggles against the wilderness and the songs we hear are primarily religious hymns. That some good comes of the efforts of the trio is redemptive enough to raise this effort above the average Western.
It is doubtful this movie could be shot again. It is exceedingly unlikely the disturbance a film crew would make while filming in a national park would be permitted. Try to imagine the rails required for the cameras being laid today.
Score: Three Stars
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