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3 Godfathers (1948)

Passed  -  Drama | Western  -  1 December 1948 (USA)
7.2
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 5,464 users  
Reviews: 40 user | 23 critic

When 3 outlaws on the run find a dying woman and her newborn baby in the desert they vow to save the child.

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(screenplay), (screenplay), 2 more credits »
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Title: 3 Godfathers (1948)

3 Godfathers (1948) on IMDb 7.2/10

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Pedro 'Pete' Roca Fuerte (as Pedro Armendariz)
...
...
...
...
...
Guy Kibbee ...
Dorothy Ford ...
...
Charles Halton ...
...
Deputy Curly
Jack Pennick ...
Luke
Fred Libby ...
Deputy
Michael Dugan ...
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Storyline

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:

desert | outlaw | posse | newborn | birth | See All (86) »

Taglines:

John Ford's Legend of the Southwest!

Genres:

Drama | Western

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

1 December 1948 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Three Godfathers  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

John Ford had a greensman water a cactus overnight to allow it to be squeezed for water. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Posse Member #1: A lot of boys stick up stagecoaches and banks and one thing and another. But a man who would dynamite a water hole in this kind of country is downright criminal.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Ebert Presents: At the Movies: Episode #2.17 (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

Beautiful River (Shall We Gather at the River)
(uncredited)
Written by Robert Lowry and Charles Ives
Performed by Harry Carey Jr.
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Robert, William, Pedro
30 October 2005 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

Like The Maltese Falcon, 3 Godfathers had to be made three times before we got the definitive version. This one has to rank at the top of John Wayne's films.

Wayne and fellow outlaws Pedro Armendariz and Harry Carey, Jr. arrive at the town of Welcome, Arizona and after a brief chance meeting with the marshal, Ward Bond, proceed to rob the Welcome bank.

In pursuit of the robbers, Bond shoots the waterbag draped across Wayne's saddle. And then he cleverly stations men at the few sources of water. Nevertheless the three outlaws decide to chance it across the desert.

Life takes a peculiar turn for them as they come across a dying Mildred Natwick who has just delivered an infant. Before she goes she exacts a promise from them to rescue her baby.

Even though their own freedom is at stake, Wayne, Armendariz, and Carey subordinate it to the care and rescue of the infant. At this point the Christmas parable takes over. The three wise men setting out with the infant in their charge to the nearest town which happens to be New Jerusalem, Arizona.

I said on another review of a Wayne film that John Wayne had one of the greatest faces for movie closeups ever. Check some of them here, especially during the desert trek. They say more than 10 pages of dialog. Ford, Hawks, Wellman all the great directors who worked with the Duke knew that and took advantage.

Pedro Armendariz and John Ford came to blow up on the set of 3 Godfathers according to Harry Carey, Jr.'s memoirs. Armendariz almost walked off the film. He finished it though and was great as the fatalistic Mexican outlaw. But he never worked for Ford again.

Although he'd done a few films before this, John Ford had in the credits, introducing Harry Carey, Jr. Of course the film is dedicated to his father who in fact had starred in the original silent Three Godfathers. Maybe this should have really been his debut film, Dobe Carey is just fine as the callow youth, The Abilene Kid.

This also marked the last film of veteran actor Guy Kibbee. As the practical and perceptive judge who tries Wayne, Kibbee is given a fitting swan song to a great career as a player.

This is certainly a more religious work than John Wayne is used to doing. Wayne, although he was baptized Catholic at the end of his life was not a particularly religious man. I do wonder if he had lived another decade what he would have made of the religious right.

Ford of course got in his obligatory Shall We Gather At the River, but also Bringing in the Sheaves was sung. And in the scene where a dehydrated John Wayne arrives at a saloon in New Jerusalem, the piano player is first playing The Holy City and then Silent Night. All to great effect by the way.

I think people that are not necessarily fans of the Duke will be amazed at the heights he rose to as a player in 3 Godfathers.


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