Three Godfathers (1948) - Rotten Tomatoes

Three Godfathers (1948)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Three Godfathers Trailers & Photos

Movie Info

John Ford had already directed one of the three previous film versions of Peter Kyne's novel under the title Marked Men (1919) with his mentor Harry Carey, a great cowboy star of the silent era who had recently died. It's not difficult to see how the story's sentimentality and Christian symbolism might have appealed to the director's sensibility. John Wayne stars as Bob Hightower, the leader of a trio of thieves who rob a bank in Arizona and take off with the posse of Sheriff Buck Sweet (Ward Bond) in close pursuit. Although they need to stop to water their horses and care for the wounds of Abilene (Harry Carey Jr.), their accurate suspicion that the sheriff is laying an ambush for them at the Mohave water tank leads the gang toward the more distant Terrapin tanks. However, en route, they're waylaid by a terrible sandstorm which scatters their horses. Forced to go on foot, they come upon a lone woman (Mildred Natwick) in a covered wagon who is about to give birth. She dies in childbirth, but not before extracting a promise from the three to take care of her child. Under a blistering sun, they head for New Jerusalem.more
Rating: Unrated
Genre: Western, Drama, Classics
Directed By:
Written By: Laurence Stallings, Frank S. Nugent
In Theaters:
On DVD: Jun 6, 2006


John Wayne
as Robert Marmaduke Hig...
Pedro Armendáriz
as Pedro 'Pete' Roca Fu...
Harry Carey Jr.
as William Kearney, "T...
Ward Bond
as Perley 'Buck' Sweet
Charles Halton
as Mr. Latham
Jane Darwell
as Miss Florie
Mildred Natwick
as The Mother
Mae Marsh
as Mrs. Perley Sweet
Dorothy Ford
as Ruby Latham
Ben Johnson
as Members of Posse
Ruth Clifford
as Woman in Bar
Michael Dugan
as Members of Posse
Don Summers
as Members of Posse
Fred Libby
as Deputy Sheriff `Curl...
Hank Worden
as Deputy Sheriff
Francis Ford
as Drunken Old-Timer at...
Richard Hageman
as Saloon Pianist
Cliff Lyons
as Guard at Mojave Tank...
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Three Godfathers

Critic Reviews for Three Godfathers

All Critics (11) | Top Critics (2)

he last reel, with Wayne explicitly identified as the Prodigal Son and a general collapse into mawkishness, might almost have strayed in from another movie.

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

There are humor and honest tear-jerking in this visually beautiful film.

Full Review… | March 25, 2006
New York Times
Top Critic

John Ford, who had shot this popular tale as a silent, remade it with John Wayne, emphasizing even more the religious symbolism.

Full Review… | January 7, 2013

A wonderful, sentimental western.

Full Review… | November 27, 2007
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Reworking of the 3 wise men story out west is very good Ford.

October 16, 2004
Kansas City Kansan

Wayne as the Prodigal Son delivering the Christ child seemed a bit of a stretch.

Full Review… | June 25, 2004
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Audience Reviews for Three Godfathers


yeah it's a little corny but it's one of ford's most beautifully shot and that's saying something

Stella Dallas

Super Reviewer

Number 3 in the quest of 30 by Christmas. This one talks about Christmas but doesn't have a overall theme of Christmas till its end. The Duke John Wayne plays a bad guy in this film, something that was rare, after robbing a bank The Duke and his partners go across the desert to avoid the law, when they happen upon a women having a baby, before she dies she makes them the boys godfathers and promise to keep her baby alive, so sets the theme for this Mild Western. Found it on a list of Christmas movies, have never seen it on TV, again has a Christian theme and gospel singing, a rarity on TV these days. Today's Hollywood is based on the more smut the better even this time of the year. Its worth your time and 4 stars

Bruce Bruce

Super Reviewer

This is just a great movie that's both fun and well made. It must be the first John Wayne/John Ford movie in color and it's truly beautiful to look at. While it's a premise that certainly could have become corny, it doesn't and manages to have a great message. The chemistry between the three bank robbers is one of the many qualities it has, friendship is such a powerful theme in this. While it draws parallels with the three wisemen, it definitely doesn't steal and is extremely original and fresh.

Conner Rainwater

Super Reviewer

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