While most Christmas films are sure to feature iconic seasonal imagery like snow and evergreen trees, this one’s a bit different. It’s a Christmas western set in the arid deserts of Arizona.
After robbing a bank, Bob Hightower (John Wayne) and his two outlaw friends are on the run. They hightail it out of town, where they quickly work up a thirst, only to find that the clever local sheriff already has men watching the closest water tank. Searching for another source of water, Bob is surprised to discover an abandoned covered wagon with a woman inside, close to death and about to give birth. After helping her give birth, the outlaws’ plans of escaping the law are put on hold as they promise the dying woman to care for her newborn child.
With their priorities challenged, the three men rededicate their time and effort to saving the child. The dry desert weather and the scarcity of water continue to plague their journey, and they know next to nothing about how to care for an infant. Their only source of aid is a small sack of baby supplies left behind by the child’s mother, which includes another unexpected source of help: a copy of the Holy Bible.
While certainly not your typical sort of Christmas film, 3 Godfathers provides an obvious allegory to the story of the Three Wise Man, with outlaws spiritually redeeming themselves through their dedication to the helpless child. The film is unrated, but would likely be PG. Some gun violence, though very tame, may be inappropriate for very young viewers.
Runtime: 1 hour, 46 minutes
USCCB — A-II
85% on Rotten Tomatoes
IMDb Parents Guide