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3 Godfathers (1948)

Passed | | Drama, Western | 13 January 1949 (USA)
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3:20 | Trailer

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Three outlaws on the run find a dying woman in the desert who gives birth to a baby. The mother entrusts the care of the child to the three men.

Director:

John Ford

Writers:

Laurence Stallings (screenplay), Frank S. Nugent (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
John Wayne ... Robert Marmaduke Sangster Hightower
Pedro Armendáriz ... Pedro Roca Fuerte (as Pedro Armendariz)
Harry Carey Jr. ... William Kearney ('The Abilene Kid')
Ward Bond ... Perley 'Buck' Sweet
Mae Marsh ... Mrs. Perley Sweet
Mildred Natwick ... The Mother
Jane Darwell ... Miss Florie
Guy Kibbee ... Judge
Dorothy Ford ... Ruby Latham
Ben Johnson ... Posse Man #1
Charles Halton ... Oliver Latham
Hank Worden ... Deputy Curly
Jack Pennick Jack Pennick ... Luke
Fred Libby Fred Libby ... Deputy
Michael Dugan Michael Dugan ... Posse Man #2
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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

Taglines:

John Ford's Legend of the Southwest! (lobby card) See more »

Genres:

Drama | Western

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Spanish

Release Date:

13 January 1949 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Three Godfathers See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,243,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$2,078,000, 31 December 1948

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$2,841,000, 31 December 1948
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Argosy Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

John Wayne's character, Robert Marmaduke Hightower, was named by director John Ford after his favorite stuntman, Bryan 'Slim' Hightower, who also worked on this picture. See more »

Goofs

When the three Godfathers leave the covered wagon with little Robert William Pedro, the canvas is coming loose in the wind. Later when Purly Sweet and his posse arrive at the covered wagon, the canvas is tied down firmly. See more »

Quotes

Perley 'Buck' Sweet: Turn around, Texas. Turn around and draw.
Robert Marmaduke Sangster Hightower: Well, Perlie, you old hayshaker... looks like you got me...
[faints]
Robert Marmaduke Sangster Hightower: .
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Variety Lights (1950) See more »

Soundtracks

Streets of Laredo
(uncredited)
Written by Troy Hale
Performed by Harry Carey Jr.
See more »

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User Reviews

Robert's road to Damascus.
28 December 2002 | by dbdumonteilSee all my reviews

Redemption is the keyword to many a Ford work:this is perhaps the most convincing effort in a remarkable career for that matter.Like all the great auteurs,western is only an alibi for Ford to convey a message:God is the only way,the Bible is the only book for Man's education (as Dr Whatsisname's infant care manual for the new human being).

If you do not know anything about the screenplay and you expect a traditional western ,you may be disappointed:actually it might as well be a Xmas tale.Actually ,only the beginning and the ending are what you expect from a western.The central part is Robert's (Wayne) road to Damascus.His two pals do believe in God,he doesn't.The desert and the quest of water are a metaphor for the emptiness of his heart.In the second part of the movie,he's like the baby,busy being born.

Ford's movie is a visual splendor:the three men filmed against the sunlight near the mother's grave;the grave shot in close-up as the three men go away.The desert itself becomes an almost alive entity,filmed with a unique sense of space .Narration avoids readiness:when Wayne meets the mother,Ford does not show the scene:he lets his character tell it to his friends.The mother briefly appears for one short scene but she makes all her words count.

Singing is very important:when the mother is buried ,William sings over his grave but he cannot finish his canticle because he cannot remember the end:thus Ford avoids pathos and melodrama;when he rocks the baby,he sings "streets of Laredo",an ominous choice(but lullabies are sometimes strange and even cruel,aren't they?);the final choir "bringing in the sheaves" signals a brand new life for Robert. Towards the end ,the movie verges on fantastic ,which is extremely rare in the western genre.

Biblical quotations abound,but anyway,they are everywhere in Ford's work from the earlier works (the informer) to the later ones (seven women).

In the eighties,Coline Serreau made a shameless rip -off "trois hommes et un couffin".It wasn't a western ,the action taking place in Paris 1985,but a lot of ideas were taken from Ford .Besides,her three characters were despicable machos:One wishes it had not come from a woman .The movie was such a huge success that the American felt compelled to redo it (three men and a baby).Forget these mediocrities and do watch the Master 's tale of redemption.


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