3 Godfathers (1948) - Plot Summary Poster



Showing all 4 items
Jump to:


  • Three outlaws on the run find a dying woman in the desert who gives birth to a baby. The mother entrusts the care of the child to the three men.

  • Three outlaws on the run discover a dying woman and her baby. They swear to bring the infant to safety across the desert, even at the risk of their own lives.

  • After robbing the local bank, three men - Robert Hightower, William Kearney and Pedro Roca Fuerte - do their best to evade the local Marshall and his posse. In the wilderness, they find an abandoned wagon and a woman who has just given birth. She is is dying and asks the men to take care of her child. The three then decide to do their best by the newborn and set off across the desert to deliver it to safety. Not all will survive and for those who do, jail likely awaits them.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • Outlaws Robert Hightower (John Wayne), Pedro "Pete" and William "The Abilene Kid" (Harry Carey Jr) prepare to rob a bank.They fill up their canteens and a water bag at a spring and enter an Arizona town called Welcome.They stop off at a man's home called Perly "Buck" Sweet (Ward Bond) where his wife (Mae Marsh) makes them coffee. The woman asks them if they have seen a wagon on their journey,as her and Buck's niece and husband are on their way from New Jerusalem.They say they haven't seen them.Buck tells them where the town's bank is and they prepare to go and rob it.As Buck puts on his vest they see that he's wearing a badge.They cautiously ride off and still go through with pulling off the robbery.They get away with the money but as the are about to ride off out of town,the lawmen come running out of their office and shoot William off of his horse.Robert pulls him up onto the back of his and they get away.Buck and his men pursue them across the desert and Buck shoots their water bag without them realizing.With only water left in their canteens, they head for a water tower called Mojave Tanks but Buck has devised a plan.He's taken the train with his men and is dropping a few of his deputies off at each water tower in the area to try and capture the outlaws.

    Predicting Buck's next tactic,Robert decides that they should double back to Terrapin Tanks in the North. As they head off,they are caught up in a major sandstorm and lose their horses.Despite this,they make it to the tanks but Robert discovers an abandoned wagon there.He returns to Pedro and William and tells them that there's a pregnant woman inside it who is on the verge of giving birth. Her husband has disappeared for days after pursuing their thirsty horses. The water tanks are empty because he had blown them up with dynamite rather than digging after finding that the water level was too low.Robert asks Pedro to go and help the woman deliver the baby because he was once married with kids.He agrees.As he helps her,Robert and William try to collect as much water as they can from barrel cactus heads.The woman gives birth and asks to see all three of them in the wagon as she lay exhausted and drained.She thanks them for what they've done and asks them to be the godfathers to her son that she names after them.Robert William Pedro Hightower. As she slowly passes away,they promise her that they'll look after her son.They bury her and try to figure out how to look after a baby.They come across a book in the wagon that explains how to look after a baby as well as some baby clothes,some canned condensed milk and a bible.A couple of days later,with the baby's milk running low,and all the water from the cactus heads gone,they decide it's best to trek across the desert with the baby and head for New Jerusalem.

    Sick of waiting for them at Apache Wells, Buck Sweet realizes that the outlaws have predicted his next move and gone to Terrapin Tanks. So he decides to set off with some men on their trail.He finds the empty wagon and finds some clothes that belonged to his niece.Jumping to the wrong conclusion,he believes that the outlaws have killed his niece and her husband and blown up the water tanks.

    Robert, William and Pedro struggle to try and make it across the desert.Becoming weaker because of his gunshot wound,Willliam dies of exhaustion.With just two of them left,Pedro later falls and breaks his leg. Pedro asks Robert to leave his pistol for him so he can allegedly warn off the coyotes. He wishes Robert Filez Navidad for the next day and as Robert wanders off with the baby,he hears a gunshot. after climbing the last mountain, Robert feels like he can't go any further and he reads a bible passage about finding a donkey and it's foal. He starts to hallucinate and imagines his two friends walking along with him,encouraging him to not give up.He does finds stray donkey (just like the Bible passage said) and makes it to New Jerusalem.He walks into the saloon with the baby as everyone is celebrating Christmas.Buck enters after him and tells him to put his hands up.But Robert collapses on the floor.

    Sometime later,Robert is back in the town of Welcome,where Buck is holding him in his cell while he awaits his trial.Buck,his wife and the rest of the town have taken kindly to Robert after saving the baby.The judge sentences him to 20 years unless he hands over the custody of the baby to the uncle and aunt (Buck and his wife) and never return to Welcome Arizona. But Robert is adamant that he's not going to break his promise to the dying woman and accepts the 20 year sentence.Proving his worth to the judge and everyone else,Robert is sentenced to a year and one day and is given a cordial farewell from the townsfolk as he goes off to prison.

See also

Taglines | Synopsis | Plot Keywords | Parents Guide

Contribute to This Page

Recently Viewed