Though he could be a grumpy one-eyed bastard and a horrible drunk, John Ford had a sweet side that showed up onscreen now and again. 3 Godfathers (1948) is one of the nicest of his films that, like The Quiet Man (1952), showed Ford to be a closet romantic idealist. John Wayne, Pedro Armendariz, and Harry Carey Jr. star as three bank robbers who get stuck in the middle of the desert without water. Carey's William Kearney (aka The Abilene Kid) was wounded, and Sheriff Perley 'Buck' Sweet (Ward Bond) knows the only locations the boys could run to, so to avoid Buck they find themselves lost in the desert. After losing their horses to a desert storm, things look bad until they stumble upon a wagon with a pregnant woman inside. Thus, Armendariz 's Pedro 'Pete' Roca Fuerte goes to deliver the baby. The mother dies after making the men the child's godparents, and they take quickly to their roles as guardians. And all of them, including Wayne's Robert Hightower, find redemption in their goal to trek back through the desert to return the child (named Robert William Pedro) to regular folk. A slight twist on the nativity of Christ (which the film acknowledges), 3 Godfathers has the visual intensity of a silent picture. Perhaps that's because the film was based on a silent Ford made in 1919 with Carey's father titled Marked Men. But the picture works because Ford's sensibilities keep it from being maudlin even when it's cutsey. The men quickly fall under the spell of parenting while still remaining hard-asses, as they read a book a book about parenting and find they must grease the baby up. Another thing that keeps the movie from getting too pat is that in the trek to get the kid home, the route proves to be fatally dangerous. With a career spanning 112 films over 60 years, John Ford is one of the most important and fascinating directors in cinema history. As such, it was easy for him to make a minor masterpiece or two, only to have it slip under the radar. 3 Godfathers can't compete with such seminal works as The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, or Stagecoach, or The Searchers, but it's nonetheless the product of a master. Warner presents 3 Godfathers in it's original aspect ratio (1.33:1) with DD 1.0 audio. The Technicolor source reveals some wear, but the color is eye-poppingly beautiful. Extras consist of the film's theatrical trailer. Keep-case.
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