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Westerns - John Ford - 3 Godfathers

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John Wayne, Pedro Armend?riz, Harry Carey Jr., Ward Bond
Director: John Ford
Warner Home Video

3 Godfathers is one of those rare western movies which manages to be religious without being boring. John Wayne heads a cast of western journeymen actors as the cattle rustling/bank robbing Robert Hightower in this John Ford movie. The principle cast is filled out by the always reliable Harry Carey Jr. and the solid Pedro Armendáriz who manages to play a trite role with honesty and character.

3 Godfathers is far from Ford’s best film but it is still a very strong effort. The weaknesses are not with the storyline nor with the characters or acting – surprisingly the real weakness is in the camera work. At some point in time someone should have mentioned that watching minute after minute of blowing sand with a relatively lackluster sound track is going to be boring to the viewer. Yes we get it – they are in the desert, it is hot, they have no water and yes it gets worse when a sand storm hits but give it a rest already. As a narrative technique to prepare you for the mental toughness and resilience of the three bandits it can be excused but it could have been shorter.

The balance of the cinematography and direction are of course excellent and lead one to wonder why it took so long for this gem to find its way to DVD so the world could enjoy it once again. The storyline in which the wily Sherriff (Ward Bond) pursues the outlaws across the desert and the outlaws themselves finding themselves suddenly in possession of a newborn baby boy without the knowledge or experience to deal with being Godfathers is moving without being overly sentimental. You never mistake these men for being good men who do bad things – they are bad me who are within the reach of redemption and that difference makes the story work. Ford’s knack for using stock character types and turning them on their head to deliver an above average story – and an excellent western for Xmas viewing. This movie is a must see for every western cinema fan.

Denis Bernicky

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The Searchers: Simply one of the finest old style western movies John Wayne ever appeared in.

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