Wednesday, December 22, 2010

3 Godfathers (1948)

3 Godfathers (1948). Directed by John Ford and filmed primarily in Death Valley. Cast: John Wayne, Harry Carey Jr., Pedro Armendáriz, Mildred Natwick, Ward Bond, Mae Marsh, Jane Darwell, Guy Kibbee and Hank Worden. The screenplay, written by Frank S. Nugent and Laurence Stallings, is based on the novel of the same name written by Peter Kyne. Ford had already adapted the film once before in 1919 as Marked Men. The original silent adaptation by Ford is thought to be lost today. The story is something of a re-telling of the story of The Three Wise Men in an American western context.

Cattle rustlers Robert Hightower, Pedro 'Pete' Rocafuerte, and William Kearney rob a bank in the town of Welcome, Arizona, but Kearney is shot and they have to run into the desert for cover, with the the posse hot on their heels.

They lose their horses in a desert storm and end up walking searching for water, they come across a water hole, which has been destroyed. Near by, they find in a covered wagon a dying woman, who is about to give birth. With the help of the 3 men, she has a boy, whom she names Robert William Pedro after them. She makes the men promise that they will take care of her baby boy. The three desperado's do everything they can to keep their promise.

This is a wonderful Christmas Movie where the bible plays a major role. Excellent performances by john Wayne, Armendariz and Carey, Jr.. Ward Bond is excellent as the relentless Marshal.

Fun Fact:
This film was dedicated to John Ford's friend and early star, Harry Carey, whose son Harry Carey Jr. played one of the title roles. Tokyo Godfathers is partly based on this film.

John Ford had a greensman water a cactus overnight to allow it to be squeezed for water.

John Wayne's character, Robert Marmaduke Hightower, was named by director John Ford after his favorite stuntman, Bryan 'Slim' Hightower, who also worked on this picture.

John Wayne was badly sun burnt while filming 3 Godfathers (1948) and was briefly hospitalized.

Mae Marsh (born Mary Wayne Marsh, November 9, 1894– February 13, 1968) , her career spanned over 50 years. Marsh worked as a salesgirl and waited around the sets and locations while her older sister worked on a films. She first started as an extra and played her first starring role in the film, Ramona (1910) at the age of 15.

Marsh worked with D.W. Griffith in small roles when they were filming in California and in New York. Her big break came when Mary Pickford, refused to play the bare-legged, grass-skirted role of Lily-White in Man's Genesis.

Working with Mack Sennett and D.W. Griffith, she appeared in eight movies a year and often paired with Robert Harron in romantic roles. In The Birth of a Nation (1915) and In Intolerance (1916).

Marsh's last notable starring role was as a flapper for Griffith in, The White Rose(1923) with Ivor Novello and Carol Dempster. She re-teamed with Novello in 1925 for the film version of his hit stage play, The Rat.

Marsh returned from retirement to appear in "talkies" and played a role in Henry King’s remake of Over the Hill (1931). She began to perform in character roles. Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (1932) and Little Man, What Now? (1934). She also became a favorite of director John Ford, appearing in The Grapes of Wrath (1940), How Green Was My Valley (1941), 3 Godfathers (1948), and The Searchers (1956).


Ron Scheer said...

Kyne's story is on my reading list. I've never seen the movie, but was planning to do both of them together. The FictionMags index says the story is only "recognizable" as the source for the John Wayne version. That is often the case.

Yes, Mae Marsh had a huge career and seems to have been as bankable as Lillian Gish, but you hardly ever hear of her. In fact, I'd totally missed that she was in these later John Ford films.

Great vid clip, too. Thanks for finding it. The film has several plot elements in common with FOUR FACES WEST, based on the novel PASO POR AQUI, by Eugene Manlove Rhodes.

Dawn said...

Thank you Ron, I hope you get a chance to see 3 Godfathers, soon. I don't think you will be disappointed. The only thing I will say is.. it was odd for me, seeing John Wayne playing a bad guy.

I also thought it was interesting to learn that Mae Marsh, was a favorite actress of John Ford.

Thank you for the movie recommendation, FOUR FACES WEST. I have not seen it yet.