The story is already beloved by film buffs thanks to the many adaptations for the big screen, including the 1948 John Ford/John Wayne collaboration and the 2003 Japanese anime Tokyo Godfathers. But here is the original 1913 novelette in all its warm humanity and humor. Three bank robbers on the run in the frontier American West happen upon a birthing mother who begs the men to watch over her baby as the delivery takes her life just as another is brought into the world. Naturally, they do, and find that their new charge brings them a new outlook on their wicked ways. American novelist PETER B. KYNE (1880-1957) was born in San Francisco, California. From early on it was clear that he had a gift for writing, and his time in the army during the Spanish-American War and World War I gave him plenty to write about. Kyne's novels include The Go-Getter (1921) and Cappy Ricks (1916).
Is the story of The Three Bad Men—-not The Three Wise Men "What's a godfather, Bill?" The Youngest Bad Man inquired. "What job does he hold down?"
"You're an awful ignorant young man, Bob," replied The Wounded Bad Man reproachfully. "A godfather is a sort of reserve parent who promises to renounce the devil with all his works an' pomps."
The Youngest Bad Man smiled wanly. "Well, Bill, all I got to say is that us three're a lovely bunch o' godfathers."
Release Date: December 1, 1948
Release Time: 106 minutes
John Wayne as Robert Marmaduke Hightower
Harry Carey Jr. as William Kearney "The Abilene Kid"
Pedro Armendáriz as Pedro "Pete" Rocafuerte
Mildred Natwick as Dying Mother
Ward Bond as Sheriff Buck Sweet
Mae Marsh as Mrs. Sweet
Jane Darwell as Miss Florie
Guy Kibbee as Judge
Hank Worden as Deputy Curley
Dorothy Ford as Ruby Latham
Ben Johnson as Posse Man
Charles Halton as Oliver Latham
Jack Pennick as Luke
Fred Libby as Deputy
Michael Dugan as Posse Man #2
Francis Ford as Drunken Old-Timer at Bar
Richard Hageman as Saloon Pianist
Gertrude Astor as Townswoman
Ruth Clifford as Woman in Bar
Jack Curtis as Bartender
Harry Tenbrook as Bartender #2
Eva Novak as Townswoman
Amelia Yelda as Robert William Pedro Hightower
Peter Bernard Kyne was an American novelist who wrote between 1904 and 1940. Many of his works were adapted into screenplays starting in the silent era, particularly his first novel, The Three Godfathers, which was published in 1913 and proved to be a huge success. He is credited in 110 films between 1914 and 1952.
When still under 18, he lied about his age and enlisted in Company L, 14th U.S. Infantry, which served in the Philippines from 1898-1899. The Spanish-American War and the following insurrection of General Emilio Aguinaldo provided background for many of Kyne's later stories. During World War I, he served as a captain in Battery A of the 144th field Artillery, known as the California Grizzlies.