Three Faces West (1940)





Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

The Refugee was the original release title for the offbeat John Wayne vehicle Three Faces West. Wayne, Sigrid Gurie and Charles Coburn are starred as John Philips, Leni Braun and Leni's father Dr. Braun, who like so many other victims of the Depression are forced to move bag and baggage from the Dust Bowl to the West Coast. A fugitive from fascist oppression in Austria, Dr. Braun hopes to carve out a new existence for himself and his daughter Leni by tilling the soil, but she is more interested in being reunited with her Austrian boyfriend Eric von Scherer (Varno) once she arrives in Oregon. In charge of the migration westward is John Phillips who loves Leni but keeps his feelings to himself. But when Leni discovers that her sweetheart has thoroughly embraced the Nazi cause, she finds solace in the arms of the faithful Phillips. Among the screenwriters of The Refugee was Samuel Ornitz, later one of the blacklisted Hollywood Ten.
Action & Adventure , Classics , Drama , Western
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:


John Wayne
as John Phillips
Sigrid Gurie
as Leni 'Lenchen' Braun
Charles Coburn
as Dr. Karl Braun
Sonny Bupp
as Billy Welles
Spencer Charters
as Dr. `Nunk' Atterbury, Veterinarian
Roland Varno
as Dr. Eric Von Scherer
Trevor Bardette
as Clem Higgins
Helen MacKellar
as Mrs. Welles
Wade Boteler
as Harris
Russell Simpson
as Minister
Charles Waldron
as Dr. Thorpe
Wendell Niles
as Radio announcer
Dewey Robinson
as Bartender
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for Three Faces West

All Critics (2)

No excerpt available.

Full Review… | November 21, 2011

This mediocre John Wayne vehicle is a message film about refugees escaping Nazi-dominated Austria; the original title (I Married a Nazi) was changed for political reasons.

Full Review… | January 8, 2007

An unusual contemporary Western featuring a compelling theme about refugees making a go of it in their new country among pioneers.

Full Review… | September 4, 2005
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Audience Reviews for Three Faces West


"An unusual contemporary Western featuring a compelling theme about refugees making a go of it in their new country among pioneers."

Greg Wood
Greg Wood

Hmmm... there is an interesting amalgam of themes in THREE FACES WEST, which is part anti-nazi propaganda set within the Dust Bowl but plays out like a modern western. During a radio program called WE THE PEOPLE a group of doctors are introduced to the american public. The doctors are all refugees from Europe and hope to gain employment in the United States but do not want to compete for jobs with existing american doctors. A message is broadcast. Any place looking for a doctor can contact the show. Soon after the broadcast, a telegram is received from a small town in North Dakota seeking the services of one of the doctors - specifically Dr. Karl Braun (Charles Coburn) who had fled Vienna along with his daughter Leni (Sigrid Gurie). The townsfolk had even pooled their money for train fare for the two. During their journey from New York City, Dr. Braun and Leni enjoy the view out of the train window. Dr. Braun reflects, "2,000 miles we've soldiers to be frontiers to be custom guards...America." But their high optimism for a bright future is tempered when they arrive at their destination of Ashevile Fork in the middle of the night during a raging dust storm. There to greet them at the train station is the defacto head of the town, John Phillips (John Wayne) along with his grumpy side-kick, "Nunk" Atterbury (Spencer Charters), the acting doc of the town (though he really is the veterinarian). "Cow Doc" as Phillips calls him. Before Phillips can even drive Dr. Braun and Leni to their new home, they make 3 emergency house calls along the way. A mother suffering from pneumonia, an old farmer with a dislocated shoulder, and someone whose illness was just too far along for the doctor to do any good. The dedicated doctor is exhaused but willing to stay - unlike the disillusioned daughter - who wants to leave the very next morning. The last straw being when Phillips shows her the dilapidated home where she and the doctor is to live. This movie has a good premise IMO. It's interesting to see the change in Leni's personality as she becomes used to living in the town which shows sign of recovery when the townsfolk start helping each other out. Leni soon finds herself falling in love with Phillips. The problem arises during the last third of the flick when the writers IMO just appeared to run out of ideas on how to resolve the story in any likely satisfactory matter. The town is hit by another dust storm and the townsfolk decide to up and move. They all pack up their belongs into their cars and trucks - and the caravan heads for Oregon. There is a malcontent among them who rebels against Phillips because he wants the caravan to move to California instead. There is also a most unlikely subplot involving Leni's former fiancé which just ruins this further...oh well. 5.5 - mostly for the first half of the film

bernard anselmo
bernard anselmo

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