Dedicated to the memory of Harry Carey Sr ('Bright star of the early western sky'), who had starred in Ford's first version of this much-filmed story (Marked Men, 1919), Three Godfathers is much better than is usually allowed. The bulk of the film, loosely paralleling the story of the Magi as three bank robbers on the run reluctantly give up their freedom to save a baby found in the desert, and are faced with a parched and desperate journey during which two of them die, is filmed with harsh and hallucinating splendour in Death Valley. Alas, with Wayne's arrival in New Jerusalem, to lay the baby on the saloon bar on what just happens to be Christmas Day ('Set 'em up, Mister, milk for the infant and a cold beer for me...'), the distressing Ford penchant for symbols of religiosity which had marred The Fugitive does the same disservice here. The last reel, with Wayne explicitly identified as the Prodigal Son and a general collapse into mawkishness, might almost have strayed in from another movie.
Cast and crew
|Screenwriter:||Laurence Stallings, Frank S Nugent|
Harry Carey Jr