A Christmas Movie Diamond in the Rough

Our family is always on the lookout for films that are entertaining and suitable for adults and children.

Recently, a generous friend loaned us his John Wayne Epic Collection. This magnificent set includes many classics, but we’ve also discovered a few gems previously unknown to us.

Perhaps our favorite so far has been 3 Godfathers. Billed as a retelling of the three wise men in a Wild West setting, it is an unlikely but compelling Christmas tale.

As befits the genre, the film’s spiritual themes are definite in nature without disrupting the gritty realism demanded by the characters and their circumstances.

Any film dealing with serious matters will require parental discretion and guidance. In this case, the protagonists are bank robbers who never formally repent of their sins, although they do change their ways.

While desperately fleeing a shrewd and determined sheriff, the outlaws discover a pregnant woman stranded in the desert. Compelled in good conscience to care for her, they are commissioned by the dying mother as godfathers to her newborn babe.

As Christmas and the sheriff approach, the criminals realize that saving their godson is more important than evading the law or even securing their personal survival.

Virtually helpless to achieve their goal, they turn perforce to heavenly guidance. Though hardly what we would call practicing Christians, they learn by experience that Holy Scripture and the rudiments of Christianity suffusing even this frontier civilization are essential guides.

In the end, ensuring their godson’s wellbeing involves these rough but generous souls in a sacrificial quest that secures their own redemption.

A spoiler alert and parental advisory: One of the godfathers, stranded in the desert with a broken leg, is heard to shoot himself offscreen. Parents may want to explain to their children why suicide is not consistent with natural law or the virtue of charity.

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