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Three Godfathers

(1936 b 81')

En: 6 Ed: 7

Based on Peter B. Kyne's novel as was the 1930 film Hell's Heroes, three bank robbers lose their lives but save a baby in the desert.

Bob (Chester Morris), Doc (Lewis Stone), Gus (Walter Brennan), and Pedro plan to rob the bank in New Jerusalem. Doc and Gus attend the church social; but when Bob comes in, the dancing stops. Bob was run out of town two years before. Frank (Robert Livingston) tells Bob they have $30,000 in his bank. Bob dances with Molly (Irene Hervey), who is engaged to Frank. Bob gives her his mother's watch and says she loves him, trying to kiss her. Molly slaps him and returns the watch, saying he probably stole it. Bob trades his watch for whiskey and dances with Maggie. Bob tells a sad story to get his watch back. At the bank Frank dresses as Santa Claus. Doc, Bob, and Gus hold them up. Bob shoots Frank and says, "There ain't no Santa Claus." As they ride out of town, Pedro is killed, and Doc is wounded in the arm.

At a poisoned well Doc says a person can live an hour on that water. They ride toward the next water-hole and find a man who killed himself. In a wagon they find his dying wife (Helen Brown) and a baby. Bob sees that the water-hole was ruined by dynamite. Bob finds four cans of milk while Doc reads Schopenhauer. Bob divides the money and plans to leave; but the horses are dead. One canteen holds their remaining water, and they save the coffee. Doc buys Bob's can of milk for his $5,000 to feed the baby. They head back toward New Jerusalem, and Doc carries the baby. Doc stops and is given coffee. At the next stop they finish the coffee water. Doc writes a will for Gus. Doc gives his water to the baby and tells Bob and Gus to leave him. Gus takes the baby. Doc quotes Macbeth and shoots himself. The next night Gus prays for the child and walks off, leaving his will. Bob reads the will, which is a note from Doc to help the kid. Bob gathers the money and stops to kill a rattlesnake. He gives the baby water and takes him. Bob walks in the desert and gives the baby the last water. Bob drops his bed-roll, the money, and then his gun. He prays for the baby. Bob finds the poisoned water and drinks it, hurrying the five and a half miles to New Jerusalem. He staggers into the church on Christmas Day and gives the baby to Molly; then he collapses and is dead. Molly says that he didn't steal the watch; but it was his mother's.

This spiritual drama reveals that even men forced by circumstances or their character to rob a bank are human and can sacrifice themselves to save an innocent child.

Copyright © 2000 by Sanderson Beck

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