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Films of Sergio Leone => Other Films => Topic started by: cigar joe on December 23, 2006, 02:13:14 PM



Title: The Three Godfathers (1948)
Post by: cigar joe on December 23, 2006, 02:13:14 PM
I just watched this on TCM didn't even know that it was coming on and glad I did.

This is the first time I ever saw this film all the way through, before I've only caught snippets of it here and there as I flipped through the channels.

I have to honestly say run don't walk down to your nearest video retailer and get the DVD. There is really nothing not to like about this film, and its even got a tie in to Christmas!

Directed by John Ford as a remake of his silent film "The Marked Men" (1919) which had already been made twice before the 1919 version, lol. It was also John Ford's first technicolor film and its somewhat unique in that it actually doesn't use Monument Valley as its location.

It stars a lot of Ford's stable of actors, John Wayne, Harry Carry Jr., Ward Bond, Hank Worden, Ben Johnson, and actor Pedro Armendáriz who is just great in the role of one of the title's godfathers, Wayne & Carry Jr. being the others.

This film is now up there with "The Searchers" as my favorite Ford film. It doesn't have that "knock you over the head civics lesson" sermonizing that a lot of Fords films have, its got a little bit of schmaltz and melodrama in very small dolops that you can swallow & which is ok.

But don't get this expecting showdown gunfights, there aren't any, and the film still works.

Basically the story line: Three men ride into the town of Welcome, Arizona to rob its bank. In the process Carry Jr. is wounded in the shoulder and looses his horse as they ride out of town into the desert, pursued by Sheriff Sweet (Bond) and posse members that include actors Worden and Johnson.

Sweet shoots the gangs water bag, that they don't discover until they are way out in the desert so they have to make for water. Sweet knows this and hops a train with the posse to the nearest water tank.

The gang foiled in their quest for water must make for another water hole to the north there they become the "three godfathers" of the title, I wont give any more away.

This film definitley had to have made an impression on Leone. Two things stood out for me, the first is the whole film is composed of some of the best scenery I've in a Western, scenery that will recall to you vividly Tuco & Blondie in the desert, this was shot in Death Valley, Lone Pine and the Mojave Desert, all fantastic locations, it will remind you also of Yellow Sky (too bad that film wasn't shot in color). The film takes place almost all in the desert. Its like GBU in that it becomes more than just a Western, you'll see what I mean.

The second thing that stood out is the great performance of Pedro Armendáriz what a great Mexican Actor who should have been a main character in a lot of Westerns, whats up with that, not only will he remind you a bit of a "nice" Tuco but it even looks like he's wearing Tuco's hat (the one he gets from the gunsmith), or vice versa lol.

The town sets are again spot on, and there is some  great steam locomotive footage, all in all a beautiful and enjoyable film.



Title: Re: The Three Godfathers (1948)
Post by: Leone Admirer on December 23, 2006, 02:19:53 PM
A wonderful film, I love the title card at the begining of the film "An early star in the Western Sky" regarding Harry Carry. A film to melt the heart


Title: Re: The Three Godfathers (1948)
Post by: cigar joe on December 23, 2006, 02:26:12 PM
Yea LA, there was a great intro on TCM explaining about Harry Carry dying the year before it was filmed from cancer. A very cool tribute.


Title: Re: The Three Godfathers (1948)
Post by: cigar joe on December 23, 2006, 08:58:16 PM
Again just can't stress it enough, the visuals were just fantastic, in this film the landscape is the forth main character.

All of those locations are golden, there still out there and can be used in Westerns.


Title: Re: The Three Godfathers (1948)
Post by: The Firecracker on December 23, 2006, 09:19:05 PM
Bought it for $10.99 at best buy. I have a few films to flip through before I get to this though.


Title: Re: The Three Godfathers (1948)
Post by: cigar joe on December 24, 2006, 05:17:56 AM
When you do just sit back and just wallow in the surrealistic scenery of Death Valley, Lone Pine & the Mojave Desert, well Merry Christmas & enjoy when you can.


Title: Re: The Three Godfathers (1948)
Post by: The Peacemaker on December 25, 2006, 06:39:44 PM
I loved 3 Godfathers. I saw this about a year ago and fell in love with it for the same exact reasons CJ pointed out.


Title: Re: The Three Godfathers (1948)
Post by: Silenzio on December 27, 2006, 09:51:27 PM
I watched this on Christmas Morning, and boy it was good! I loved it!


Title: Re: The Three Godfathers (1948)
Post by: dave jenkins on December 28, 2006, 03:19:53 PM

This film definitley had to have made an impression on Leone. Two things stood out for me, the first is the whole film is composed of some of the best scenery I've in a Western, scenery that will recall to you vividly Tuco & Blondie in the desert, this was shot in Death Valley, Lone Pine and the Mojave Desert, all fantastic locations, it will remind you also of Yellow Sky (too bad that film wasn't shot in color). The film takes place almost all in the desert. Its like GBU in that it becomes more than just a Western, you'll see what I mean.

The second thing that stood out is the great performance of Pedro Armendáriz what a great Mexican Actor who should have been a main character in a lot of Westerns, whats up with that, not only will he remind you a bit of a "nice" Tuco but it even looks like he's wearing Tuco's hat (the one he gets from the gunsmith), or vice versa lol.

The town sets are again spot on, and there is some  great steam locomotive footage, all in all a beautiful and enjoyable film.
Your remarks have piqued my interest, CJ. I'll have to get my DVD copy out of the Ford-Wayne boxset and give it another chance.


Title: Re: The Three Godfathers (1948)
Post by: cigar joe on December 28, 2006, 04:56:49 PM
Its basically a veiled Christmas story but it doesn't hit you over the head sermonizing like some later Ford/Wayne collaborations, it just sweeps you up in the story, it covers a lot of good practical desert travel knowhow (like how to get water out of a cactus, etc.,)it's a good film.


Title: Re: The Three Godfathers (1948)
Post by: dave jenkins on January 27, 2007, 04:02:31 PM

This film definitley had to have made an impression on Leone. Two things stood out for me, the first is the whole film is composed of some of the best scenery I've in a Western, scenery that will recall to you vividly Tuco & Blondie in the desert, this was shot in Death Valley, Lone Pine and the Mojave Desert, all fantastic locations, it will remind you also of Yellow Sky (too bad that film wasn't shot in color). The film takes place almost all in the desert. Its like GBU in that it becomes more than just a Western, you'll see what I mean.

Rewatched this last night and I gotta agree, CJ, 3Gs is visually very impressive. Hoch was quite a cinematographer (he also shot She Wore a Yellow Ribbon and The Searchers), and he really excelled with exteriors in color. And the great thing about 3Gs is that it is 95% filmed on location (the town where the bank is robbed is obviously back lot, the scene in the wagon with the dying mother must be studio work, but what else?). The wind in the desert provides a memorable motif; you are right, CJ, to mention Leone in this connection, but what about Lean? It probably impressed him as well.

I really liked the first 40 minutes of the story. After they find the kid, though, Ford puts on the kid gloves and everything goes soft. I wouldn't have minded this too much, (it is a Christmas movie, after all) but things just keep getting dumber and dumber, to the point where the Duke is actually saved by a miracle. And that ending: ugh, ugh, ugh.

But those desert scenes stay in the memory. Yes, I'll be watching this one again......


Title: Re: The Three Godfathers (1948)
Post by: cigar joe on January 28, 2007, 03:48:22 AM
Yea it does get pretty shmaltzy (Cheezy) at the end, but I let it slide, it is a Christmas story, I do like the part when JW stumbles into the Christmas party in the saloon, that was very well done & memorable.


Title: Re: The Three Godfathers (1948)
Post by: dave jenkins on January 29, 2007, 04:37:31 PM
Agreed. Lots of nice touches in the film ("meeting cute" with Ward Bond at the beginning; the gambit/counter-gambit moves between Bond and Wayne; the "story of Terrapin Tanks" as declaimed by the Duke; the way the conflict in the film is "reset" at the 40 minute point, etc.) This was Ford's remake of his earlier silent "Marked Men" (1919, I learned this weekend), so there is something to be said for taking a run at a subject until you get it right (Hitchcock worked the same way).


Title: Re: The Three Godfathers (1948)
Post by: tucumcari bound on January 13, 2008, 10:47:46 PM
I absoultely love this film. I recently just watched it again around the HOLIDAY'S and it impresses me with each repeated viewing. This is definitely one of John Ford's more overlooked vehicles. Anyone here who hasn't viewed this should do themselves a favor and do so. Cigar is right. Great film.


Title: Re: The Three Godfathers (1948)
Post by: cigar joe on January 22, 2008, 07:52:24 AM
Watched it again last night and again was again mesmerized by the cinematography, in this film the landscape is THE 4th main character.
Paid a bit more attention to the supporting cast this time around, Hank Worden, Ben Johnson, Jane Darwell all have cameos that are great.

In the interim between watching this film, I found out more precisely what a "tank" is. 

Basically it is a part of an intermittent stream or river. A normal river usually has riffles (rapids) and pools as it drops in the topography towards the sea. In desert areas rivers and streams will run during a cloudburst out of the mountains across an alluvial fan and then evaporate out in a salt pan. Within the dry river bed there are natural areas where the bottom of some of the the pools are dished rock or hardpan impermeable and act like a bathtub and trap water. It acts much like a birdbath puddle left in a pavement depression after a rainstorm. The water may be surface water or it may be just under the sand.  So these tanks or waterholes would have existed for millennia and would have been essential to Native Americans and desert travellers much like an oasis in the Sahara. If you knew the trails between tanks you would survive.

When the derelict husband dynamited the tank he fissured the bedrock or broke through the hard pan so the water it held either ran into the fissures and dispersed or filtered into the ground.  There is one scene in the film toward the end when Wayne is carrying the baby over the mountains and in the bg behind him you can see a salt pan and what looks like a recent flow of water over the pan discoloring part of it.



Title: Re: The Three Godfathers (1948)
Post by: tucumcari bound on January 22, 2008, 09:46:46 AM
The one thing I hate about this film is the obvious fake baby that was used during many scenes. It wasn't just this movie, but that happened during a lot of film's back in those days. It's just so blatantly obvious.


Title: Re: The Three Godfathers (1948)
Post by: dave jenkins on January 22, 2008, 04:18:25 PM
I hated the obvious fake ghosts at the end. ;D


Title: Re: The Three Godfathers (1948)
Post by: cigar joe on January 22, 2008, 04:48:18 PM
 O0


Title: Re: The Three Godfathers (1948)
Post by: T.H. on September 15, 2009, 03:17:41 PM
I have put off watching this for a long time (had I seen this thread, I would have given this a chance), and what a pleasant surpise. You guys did a great job summing this one up, especially CJ, but I have few things to add:

The three men finding the baby in the stagecoach is eerily similar to Tuco and Blondie meeting Bill Carson (or did Joe cover this?). Great cat and mouse match until the men find the baby, but by that point, I'm completely hooked. While Ford does lighten the mood a bit, the Pedro character does commit suicide off screen. I wasn't expecting to see that in a '48 Ford film; I assumed it would be assumed.

Yeah, CJ, the landscapes are beautiful.

I was expecting 3 men and a little baby set in the west with the mostly unfunny Ford brand of humor. Again, big surprise. 8-9/10.


Title: Re: The Three Godfathers (1948)
Post by: Groggy on December 12, 2009, 05:45:36 PM
I caught this film on TCM today along with The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. I thought it was great - it's a pretty conventional (although very good) Ford Western for the first forty minutes, then when they find the baby it turns into something else entirely. The humor was mostly dialed down to tolerable levels, and I didn't even mind the parts with the ghosts (perhaps visions would be a better way of putting it) towards the end. It's a very sweet and sentimental film without being overly so. I too liked the visuals, particularly the alkali flats Duke trudges through in the final sequences. CJ and others' comments about the Leone connections are very interesting and I'm not sure I'd discount them given Leone's encyclopedic knowledge of Ford's oeuvre. Wayne was at his best, great performance by Armendariz, Carrey's okay (never rated him much of an actor but he's fine here), Bond and the other Ford characters do good supprting work. Ford's overt use of Catholic symbolism was certainly an influence on Leone, though not limited to this film by any means. I agree with the 8-9/10 rating bandied about.


Title: Re: The Three Godfathers (1948)
Post by: Groggy on December 12, 2009, 05:50:17 PM
The one thing I hate about this film is the obvious fake baby that was used during many scenes. It wasn't just this movie, but that happened during a lot of film's back in those days. It's just so blatantly obvious.

I don't notice any fake baby. I did notice that the baby was quite obviously a girl (especially during the scene where they rub it with grease) when it's supposed to be a boy.


Title: Re: The Three Godfathers (1948)
Post by: cigar joe on December 12, 2009, 07:13:12 PM
Check out Hells Heroes (1930) of what I've seen of it, its great too.


Title: Re: The Three Godfathers (1948)
Post by: Groggy on December 12, 2009, 08:53:07 PM
Check out Hells Heroes (1930) of what I've seen of it, its great too.

Is that the Wyler version?


Title: Re: The Three Godfathers (1948)
Post by: Groggy on December 12, 2009, 09:00:20 PM
Full review, as not-quite-promised...

Quote
John Ford's Three Godfathers (1948), a remake of his own silent Western Marked Men (itself a remake), is a delightful little gem. A loose Western restaging of the Nativity and birth of Christ, it avoids the expected (or feared) "three men and a baby" cliches and comic pitfalls, and remains a poignant, emotional and mostly serious film. The religious symbolism is a bit heavy-handed, particularly towards the end, but it's in-keeping with the nature of the material. A combination of Western parable and sweet-natured pseudo-comedy, it's a fine piece of entertainment.

A trio of good-hearted outlaws - Bob (John Wayne), Pedro (Pedro Armendariz) and William (Harry Carey Jr.) - rob a bank in the small Arizona town of Welcome. Pursued by local Sheriff Sweet (Ward Bond), they ride into the desert, where they find themselves worn down by the elements, losing their horses in sand storm, and are outfoxed by the Sheriff at every turn. At a ruined waterhole, they find a dying woman (Mildred Natwick) in a wagon, who gives birth to a baby boy. The three outlaws promise the dying woman to take care of her baby, and they do so, trying to deliver him to New Jerusalem even as the posse bears down on them.

Three Godfathers shouldn't be more than light fluff, but under Ford's steady direction, it becomes something almost grand. The film's characters are all basically good people, even our trio of outlaws, all of whom redeem themselves for their sins as they care for the infant. The film's sentimentality is mostly low-key and quietly amusing, a pleasant surprise from Ford, who even in his best works has a tendency for broad, bawdy slapstick humor. Fortunately, we don't get any broad comedy of rough cowpokes raising an infant. The closest we get is a lengthy scene where the outlaws argue over whether or not to bathe the baby, leading to an amusing sequence where he's smeared in axel grease. These scenes come off as tender, quietly funny and touching rather than broadly humorous, and the film is all the better for it.

As expected, the film makes heavy use of religious (particularly Catholic, of course) imagery to tell the story; much of this creativly handled, if heavy-handed, until the climax, where things are saved by the advent of a miracle. Still, given how charming and entertaining the film is, it's a forgivable flaw. After all, this is the Ford of My Darling Clementine and The Quiet Man, who believed that the world was essentially a good place, and that progress was inevitable, not the angry Ford of The Searchers, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance and Cheyenne Autumn. Three Godfathers doesn't have the resonance of those films, but as a charming, optimistic bit of light entertainment it's hard to fault.

Disregarding the slight, religiously-tinged story, Ford's direction is inspired; this is one of his most visually-interesting films. He leaves his familiar Monument Valley for a much more hostile and alien environment, filming rolling mountains, forbidding, cacti-strewn sandscapes, and scorching alkali salt flats to emphasize the redemptive plight of our protagonists. The movie has some clear influences on other Westerns, with lengthy desert scenes not out of place in Lawrence of Arabia or The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. The contrast between the harsh (but beautifully filmed) landscapes, the warm, friendly towns of Welcome and New Jerusalem, and the film's sentimental feel is pulled off marvelously. Even if the material is slight, this is clearly the work of a director at the top of his creative game.

John Wayne does a fine job, making Bob a righteous, good-hearted man in tough spot, determined to do the right thing but also wanting to save his neck. He softens his uber-masculine persona with little difficulty and has fun with the contrast. Pedro Armendariz (From Russia With Love) gives an excellent, conflicted performance as Pedro, the most overtly moral character in the film. Harry Carey Jr. (Tombstone), never much of an actor in my opinion, is surprisingly decent but little more. The supporting cast is filled with other members of the Ford stock company, including Ward Bond, Ben Johnson, Jack Pennick and Hank Worden.

Three Godfathers is no masterpiece, but it's a pleasant little gem and well worth checking out for fans of Westerns, John Ford and the Duke. If nothing else, it's a decidedly unique Christmas film.

http://nothingiswrittenfilm.blogspot.com/2009/12/three-godfathers.html (http://nothingiswrittenfilm.blogspot.com/2009/12/three-godfathers.html)


Title: Re: The Three Godfathers (1948)
Post by: cigar joe on December 12, 2009, 09:45:20 PM
Is that the Wyler version?

yes


Title: Re: The Three Godfathers (1948)
Post by: cigar joe on December 13, 2009, 01:59:42 PM
Hell's Heroes is the darker version of the tale reminds me a bit of the darker Spaghetti Westerns. I'll have to reserve judgment until I see the full film but I have the feeling that it may be the definitive version of the tale.  Ford got a bit too feel goody/happy ending with it and did it ham fistedly.  I do like Wayne ending up in the saloon at Christmas over Wyler's church though, that was a nice touch.


Title: Re: The Three Godfathers (1948)
Post by: Groggy on December 13, 2009, 03:20:59 PM
Also the trial at the saloon was pretty funny, too.


Title: Re: The Three Godfathers (1948)
Post by: The Firecracker on December 25, 2009, 11:40:59 PM
Saw this last night in honor of Christmas.
Beautiful to look at and Wayne's performance is very humorous.
Too cutesy in places and, ultimately, I think that's what brings my rating down.

7/10


One big problem I had with the film was when Wayne and co. ride into town.
They sure are awful friendly with everybody!
You'd think that bank robbers would try to keep a low profile in a town they plan to plunder.


Title: Re: The Three Godfathers (1948)
Post by: The Firecracker on December 25, 2009, 11:46:28 PM


I really liked the first 40 minutes of the story. After they find the kid, though, Ford puts on the kid gloves and everything goes soft.


SPOILER

Which is why I found the suicide to be a little unsettling.
But perhaps that was the intention.

SPOILER


Title: Re: The Three Godfathers (1948)
Post by: titoli on December 26, 2009, 12:01:46 AM
Saw this last night in honor of Christmas.

How did he take it?


Title: Re: The Three Godfathers (1948)
Post by: Spikeopath on February 08, 2017, 08:15:09 PM
Sentimental and affecting piece from Ford.

Having already made a version of the story in 1919 as Marked Men with Harry Carey, John Ford clearly had a kink for this delightful redemption parable. Opening with a touching tribute to his friend and mentor Carey, who had sadly passed away the previous year (and who also starred in the 1916 version of The Three Godfathers), it was also the first out and out Ford Western to be made in colour.

The story tells of three outlaws - Robert Hightower (John Wayne), Pedro "Pete" Fuerte (Pedro Armendariz) and The Abilene Kid (Harry Carey Junior) - who after robbing a bank in the town of Welcome, are on the run from the law led posse. After hitting problems in a desert sandstorm, the men struggle on to Terrapin Tanks, where they happen across a woman in labour. Giving birth to her child, but sadly on her death bed, the woman begs the men to take care of her baby. They agree and embark on a perilous journey to get the child safely to "New Jerusalem"...

It's an odd sort of Western, but in a good way. Backed up by the usual high standard of location work from Ford and the irrepressible Winton Hoch. And with customary staunch support work from Ward Bond as the Sheriff, 3 Godfathers is a must see in relation to the careers of John Ford and John Wayne. It has a mixed reputation from fans of the two Johns, which is understandable given the flighty nature of the picture, but one thing that is true about the piece is that once viewed, it's unlikely to be forgotten. 7/10