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Author Topic: The Three Godfathers (1948)  (Read 9175 times)
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« Reply #15 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.

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« Reply #16 on: January 22, 2008, 04:18:25 PM »

I hated the obvious fake ghosts at the end. Grin

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« Reply #17 on: January 22, 2008, 04:48:18 PM »

 Afro

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« Reply #18 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.

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« Reply #19 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.

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« Reply #20 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.

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« Reply #21 on: December 12, 2009, 07:13:12 PM »

Check out Hells Heroes (1930) of what I've seen of it, its great too.

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« Reply #22 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?

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« Reply #23 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

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« Reply #24 on: December 12, 2009, 09:45:20 PM »

Is that the Wyler version?

yes

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« Reply #25 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.

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« Reply #26 on: December 13, 2009, 03:20:59 PM »

Also the trial at the saloon was pretty funny, too.

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« Reply #27 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.

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« Reply #28 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

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« Reply #29 on: December 26, 2009, 12:01:46 AM »

Saw this last night in honor of Christmas.

How did he take it?

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