Saturday, February 11, 2006

 

Three Godfathers

No. Not the films directed by Francis Ford Coppola. I'm referring to the oft-filmed novel written by Peter B. Kyne in 1913 -- the story of three thieves/murderers coming across a dying mother and her infant, and promising to see it safely through a desert. the story was first filmed as The Three Godfathers in 1916, directed by Edward LeSaint. It was filmed again in 1919 as Marked Men, helmed by the great western director John Ford. In 1930, director William Wyler brought his version of the story to the screen as Hell's Heroes. It made it to the screen again in 1936 as Miracle in the Sand. In 1948, it became a John Wayne vehicle, titled 3 Godfathers, once again directed by John Ford. In 1974, director John Badham (Wargames, Saturday Night Fever) made a TV version called The Godchild. Most recently it was reworked as the animated 2002 film Ice Age. So, what is it about this story -- of a dying woman entrusting her child to the care of three men, she doesn't know are outlaws -- that has connected with filmmakers and audiences for almost 100 years now? Is it a story of redemption? Of hope? Or was Kyne simply being ironic?

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