John Wayne in a Christmas movie? Yep, The Three Godfathers in 1948! Another fruitful John Ford and John Wayne collaboration, the film was released in December 1948. Three bank robbers, John Wayne, Pedro Armedariz and Harry Carey, Jr., stumble across a dying woman and her newborn son in a desert in the American Southwest. The three outlaws, although they are attempting to elude a posse, promise the dying woman to look after her son.
Told with the usual Ford mix of spectacle, humor, action scenes and quiet, skillfully crafted scenes, the three Godfathers keep their promise although it costs two of them their lives. All three achieve redemption by their selfless efforts to save their newborn Godson. The film is suffused with religious themes. Wayne also shows a deft hand for comedy when the three clueless bachelors attempt to care for their Godson. The usual slate of Ford regulars are present in the film: Ward Bond, Ben Johnson and Hank Worden, and they do their usual professional job. A fine western film for Christmas!