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Three Faces West

(1940 b 79')

En: 5 Ed: 6

A farmer gets a Viennese doctor to help people in the dust bowl, and then they move to Oregon.

Refugee doctors go on radio asking to serve rural areas. Dr. Karl Braun (Charles Coburn) and his daughter Leni (Sigrid Gurie) from Vienna go west to John Phillips (John Wayne), who greets them in a dust storm. Dr. Braun finds an influenza epidemic and helps several people until exhausted Leni complains to John. After one more stop John takes them to his house, and Leni objects to the dust. Veterinarian Dr. Atterbury (Spencer Charters) predicts they will leave; but they go to church with John. A woman pleads with Dr. Braun to operate on her son's leg. Leni wants to leave, and John tries to persuade her to stay by mentioning his pioneering grandparents. Dr. Braun tells Dr. Atterbury what he needs for the surgery. Dr. Braun operates with Leni's help.

John tells farmers what they need to do to stop soil erosion based on experts' advice. In town an official tells John that their land is doomed, and they should go to Oregon. John gets drunk and advises Leni to leave. They go out in the needed rain and kiss. Dr. Braun sees them and tells Leni that a clinic wants him. Dr. Braun gives the locals a lesson in pool playing. Dr. Braun and Leni learn that Eric is alive and coming to San Francisco. Leni cries, and John comforts her. She says Eric is her fiancé. A dust storm causes the farmers to go to Oregon. John leads, and Dr. Braun and Leni go too. As they drive, Dr. Atterbury tells John that Higgins (Trevor Bardette) wants to go to California. Higgins asks for part of the money collected, and John socks him. After going through the desert, John hands over the money. Higgins socks Atterbury and takes it. John tells Leni he is leaving, and they kiss. Dr. Braun urges John to be responsible to the 200 people. John and Dr. Atterbury drive after Higgins, and they collide several times on the road before the car of Higgins overturns.

In San Francisco Leni and Dr. Braun call on Eric (Roland Varno) and learn he serves the German Reich. Dr. Braun says Eric has a disease, and he leaves with Leni. In Oregon the farmers build houses and plow the fields. Under a tree the Minister (Russell Simpson) thanks God and weds John and Leni.

Aside from occasional fists to the jaw and the bumbling conflict resolution on the road, this drama rises above most westerns with significant themes of refugees, concern for others, and a warning about the Nazi menace. The Viennese father and daughter learn about American culture and find it has some good qualities, especially as compared to the tyranny they fled.

Copyright © 2002 by Sanderson Beck

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