19 user 6 critic

Hell's Heroes (1929)

Passed | | Drama, Western | 5 January 1930 (USA)
When four men rob a bank, one is killed and the other three escape into the desert where they lose their horses in a storm. Finding a woman who gives birth, they are made godfathers only to... See full summary »


William Wyler


Peter B. Kyne (from the story by: "The Three Godfathers"), Tom Reed (adaptation) | 1 more credit »

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Complete credited cast:
Charles Bickford ... Bob Sangster
Raymond Hatton ... 'Barbwire' Tom Gibbons
Fred Kohler ... Wild Bill Kearney
Fritzi Ridgeway ... Mother
Joe De La Cruz Joe De La Cruz ... José (as Jo de la Cruz)
Walter James Walter James ... Sheriff
Maria Alba ... Carmelita
Buck Connors ... Parson Jones (as 'Buck' Conners)


When four men rob a bank, one is killed and the other three escape into the desert where they lose their horses in a storm. Finding a woman who gives birth, they are made godfathers only to learn that the baby's father was the man they killed in the holdup. When the woman dies they head back, but they have little water and it is 40 miles. Written by Maurice VanAuken <mvanauken@a1access.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Certain of death at the end of a rope if he reached the town, the bad man fought his way thence against Death Valley heat and cruel thirst. (Print Ad-The Kyle News,((Kyle, Texas)) 25 April 1930)


Drama | Western








Release Date:

5 January 1930 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Far West See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Equipment)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Peter B. Kyne's bestselling 1913 novel, "The Three Godfathers", had been adapted twice before as successful Universal Silents, the first a six-reeler in 1916 and the second a John Ford remake, "Marked Men" in 1920. See more »

Alternate Versions

Universal also issued this movie as a silent, with film length 1778.81 m. See more »


Version of Three Godfathers (1936) See more »


Silent Night
(1818) (uncredited)
Music by Franz Xaver Gruber
Words By Joseph Mohr
English translation anonymous
Sung by the choir at church on Christmas
See more »

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User Reviews

Early American Cinema
10 March 2006 | by johno-21See all my reviews

I've only seen this once but found it to be a remarkable and compelling early film from the dawn of the "talkies." It's title is misleading as a Christmas movie but this is a great film for Christmas with wonderful symbolism throughout the movie. Peter B. Kyne wrote the story about three desperate villainous outlaw bank robbers who are ironically confronted with the wife and newborn son of a man they had just killed and must now risk their own lives to try to save the child. Screenwriter Tom Reed adapts the novel in this William Wyler directed film. Wyler who had an illustrious 45 year career directing movies had been a silent film director and had just made the transition from silents to talkies the year before this film in 1929's Love Trap, his first full talkie feature. Wyler would go on to direct such classics as Jezebel, Mrs. Miniver, The Best Years of Our Lives, Ben Hur and Funny Girl among many, many more fine films so it's interesting to see a film by him here at the dawn of his greatness. This film had been done once before as a silent in 1916 titled Three Godfathers starring Harry Carey and would be done again in 1936 as Three Godfathers with Chester Morris and again as Three Godfathers in 1948 with John Wayne and Carey's son Harry Carey Jr. This is so stark and gritty and imaginative that it is my favorite of the two remakes that would follow. Charles Bickford stars along with Fred Kohler and Raymond Hatton. Bickford enjoyed a long career in films and television but Hattaon was a screen actor for almost 50 years in a career that began in early silents in 1909 and continued through a small role 1967's In Cold Blood. Considering this was 1930 and what was accomplished here in story, dialog, sound and photography I have to knock this up a notch and give it a 10.

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