Fugitive bank robbers Robert (John Wayne), William (Harry Carey Jr.) and Pedro (Pedro Armendariz) stand at a desert grave. Caring for the newborn infant of the woman they just buried will ruin any chance of escape. But the... more »y won't go back on their promise to her. They won't abandon little Robert William Pedro. Director John Ford's Western retelling of the Biblical Three Wise Men tale remains a scenic and thematic masterpiece. Ford adds color to his feature-film palette, capturing stunning vistas via cinematographer Winton Hoch, who would win two of his three Academy Awards * for Ford films. Again, populist-minded Ford asserts that even men of dissolute character can follow that inner star of Bethlehem to their own redemption.« less
T O'Brien | Chicago, Il United States | 02/03/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Many people know about John Wayne and John Ford's cavalry trilogy, three of the greatest westerns ever made, but another pairing between the two is not as well known. The Three Godfathers is a lesser-known John Wayne classic when he was at the top of his game. Starring Harry Carey Jr. and Pedro Armendariz as the other two godfathers this classic should not be missed. These three outlaws ride into the desert after a bungled robbery only to find a dying woman with a newborn infant. The Duke promises to care for the baby which she names Robert William Pedro Hightower after the three outlaws. They must then make the trek across the desert with very little supplies to get the baby to the next town. Excellent supporting cast with many recognizable faces from other Duke movies, with Ward Bond playing the sheriff who attempts to track down the outlaws. Truly funny scenes as Wayne, Armendariz, and Carey attempt to care for the baby. As usual awesome scenery as is expected in John Ford westerns. This is one classic that has to be put on DVD. A must have for John Wayne fans!"
Heartwarming John Wayne / John Ford Classic! Now on DVD!
John Dziadecki | Louisville, CO USA | 12/11/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"All the positive comments you read here about this film are true.
This classic western stars John Wayne, Pedro Armendariz and Harry Carey Jr, along with a great supporting cast lead by Ward Bond -- the usual John Ford suspects. Ford strikes a balance between action and sentimentality, directing this simple story in a straightforward fashion with a great sense of style. This is Ford's first color film and cinematography by Winton C. Hoch looks really, really rich and with enough sand to make you wish you had some lemonade.
Duke really shines in this film -- just watch those expressions.
Restored to its original pristine 1948 35mm real Technicolor glory, "3 Godfathers" is a natural for the Christmas season. This heartwarming drama is a gritty, tender, timeless classic. A film the whole family can watch.
This sleeper film in the WB/MGM catalog was way, W A Y overdue on DVD in the US. But here it is, most welcomed and highly recommended!
(I've revised my original 2003 review to reflect this title's availability on DVD. Released with zero fanfare, I was first aware of its release when I saw a newspaper ad for it one week before Christmas 2005.)"
Heroism, with sweet & tender sentiment
Alejandra Vernon | Long Beach, California | 12/30/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There are many reasons not to miss this beautiful 1948 film: It's exquisitely directed by John Ford, The cinematography by Winton C. Hoch is remarkable, John Wayne is looking and performing at his absolute best, and my personal reason for owning this video, the wonderful Pedro Armendariz, who is magnificent in it.It's a sentimental tale of 3 bandidos with hearts of gold, completeing a promise they made to a dying woman to take care of her baby, and it's so well written and lovingly made that it never gets corny. This is good old fashioned entertainment, and entertaining it is, as these heroic good/bad men are chased by the sheriff and his posse across the desert, with a Bible as their map. John Ford made many inspirational films, and this is one of my favorites."
Love Duke, love this movie
Alejandra Vernon | 07/30/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I'm giving this four stars instead of five simply because five stars is reserved for true masterpieces - for films virtually without flaw. This film is flawed, but oh so wonderfully lovable. I won't bother to retell the plot, as others have already done a better job than I can, but I will just say what I love about it.The performances: Pedro Armendariz & Harry Carey Jr. are wonderful. I think of the scene where Pedro steels his resolve and heads into the tattered covered wagon to help deliver Mildred Natwick's child; his face reveals a wonderful mixture of dread, awe, responsibility, resolve, strength, determination... And John Wayne is at his irascible, lovable best - at turns impatient and scolding, tender and understanding - truly avuncular. He is clearly the leader of the group, and being 6'4" of John Wayne, he commands (and gets!) most of our attention, but never in a way that diminishes the other two men or moves them too far into the background. The relationship between the three characters is wonderfully drawn and complementary; obviously they all had great chemistry together. The story: The desert is a harsh and unforgiving place, but this film shows that even in the desert you can find redemption. Robert Hightower's soul is in a spiritual desert and it is for this reason that he must be the one to bring the baby to New Jerusalem. He has to find his own redemption and his own peace walking with God, which the other two men already seem to have. I know some may not share in the Christian faith that John Ford obviously had and thus may find the symbolism in this film heavy-handed, but I for one think it lent a great deal of emotional depth. Every soul is longing for something more, and for something greater than itself, and though I know little about Ford as a person, it seems to me that he knew this something more can only be found in Christ. There is so much more I could say about the symbolism in this film - the water, for example, that the men are constantly craving and aching for - think of the Samaritan woman at the well in the Bible and what Jesus tells her (John 4). This is a highly spiritual film!It is also at times highly comic. The funniest part, and one I could watch over and over again, is when the men are puzzling over what to do with their godson. Just the sight of John Wayne holding the tiny infant in his huge hands is downright sweet and endearing. Then the Kid pulls out Doc Meecham's book of baby advice, advice that prompts JW to say he wouldn't trust a "sick polecat" to the good doctor's care. One of the things the doctor suggests is rubbing the baby down with olive oil or clean lard. Pedro finds some axle grease, and the next thing we see is Wayne's huge hand dipping into the yellow grease and "greazing" the tiny baby's body, a sight that strikes the characters as funny as it strikes us. But it's much better seen than described so I will leave off. Suffice it to say that this is a highly enjoyable film that moves easily between sad & funny moments, and one I will be turning to often."
When westerns were westerns
email@example.com | Las Vegas, NV | 10/15/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Here's a movie that shows John Wayne in a slightly different light. We are used to the grizzled veteran, usually 100% in charge, making sure all around him follow his code, whether politically correct or not. In this movie he's a bad guy, who's far from in charge. He not only has the authorities after him, but even John Wayne, as strapping as he is in this movie, has his hands full as he takes on nature itself. The story has Wayne leading (OK, he gets to lead two other bad guys) a group of bank robbers plying their trade in a small town. They are so inept they practically announce their intentions to the local sheriff. While barely escaping this endeavor (this is not revealing anything, only setting up the main plot), they find their escape routes are either right into the hands of the law, or a murderous desert.Seems they could have planned this a bit better, but this sets up their vulnerability early. It is on this trek through the desert they run across a dying mother who has just given birth. If one takes the movie too literally, one can wonder where this mother's brains were, but we try to look further and find that we're right around Christmas, we have a baby born in a desert, and we have three definitely Un-Wise Men on a mission. OK, it doesn't exactly fit like you might want, but their trying to make more than a shoot-'em-up, and it does work.So we see two stories unfolding at this point. One deals with whether the boys are going to survive the elements, much less the pursuing lawmen. Ward Bond is excellent here as the sheriff who does an increasingly slow burn about having to pursue them. And we need to see what's going to happen to the baby. All of this happens in a beautifully photographed movie. After living in the Midwest all my life, my new home lets me see that there is a harsh beauty to the desert. This is well captured here. Plus, we forget that John Wayne had quite a buff body in his earlier years, but even this is tested to the limits by the end of the film. This is a classic, and a keeper."