Three Faces West

Overview

The Refugee was the original release title for the offbeat John Wayne vehicle Three Faces West. Wayne, Sigrid Gurie and Charles Coburn are starred as John Philips, Leni Braun and Leni's father Dr. Braun, who like so many other victims of the Depression are forced to move bag and baggage from the Dust Bowl to the West Coast. A fugitive from fascist oppression in Austria, Dr. Braun hopes to carve out a new existence for himself and his daughter Leni by tilling the soil, but she is more interested in being reunited ...
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Overview

The Refugee was the original release title for the offbeat John Wayne vehicle Three Faces West. Wayne, Sigrid Gurie and Charles Coburn are starred as John Philips, Leni Braun and Leni's father Dr. Braun, who like so many other victims of the Depression are forced to move bag and baggage from the Dust Bowl to the West Coast. A fugitive from fascist oppression in Austria, Dr. Braun hopes to carve out a new existence for himself and his daughter Leni by tilling the soil, but she is more interested in being reunited with her Austrian boyfriend Eric von Scherer Varno once she arrives in Oregon. In charge of the migration westward is John Phillips who loves Leni but keeps his feelings to himself. But when Leni discovers that her sweetheart has thoroughly embraced the Nazi cause, she finds solace in the arms of the faithful Phillips. Among the screenwriters of The Refugee was Samuel Ornitz, later one of the blacklisted Hollywood Ten.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
An interesting combination of anti-Nazi propaganda and celebration of the pioneer spirit, Three Faces West is an easily digestible time-filler that is better than it should have been. John Wayne stars as the young farmer who brings the Brauns to town, Spencer Charters is his sidekick and housemate -- which makes for a fun team -- and Charles Coburn is especially good as the refugee doctor who makes the best of his situation. Sigrid Gurie, however, ranks among Wayne's most curious leading ladies. She does what she can with a poorly written part, but she and Wayne have little chemistry. Three Faces West is basically broken into two parts. The first half deals both with the Brauns' adjustment to their new life in Asheville Forks -- Leni, of course, hates the town and hates Wayne, but falls in love with both -- and a depiction of the town's desperate plight. The relentless dust storms and drought take a physical and psychological toll on the town, and director Bernard Vorhaus does a solid job of showing the man-against-nature battle and how, in this case, nature wins. The second half concerns the journey to Oregon in the hope of a better life. This is a little more predictable, as the inevitable breakdown in morale occurs and some members of the caravan try to challenge Wayne's authority. There are some worthwhile scenes in this portion, but the clich├ęs are also more apparent. The screenplay, at least, avoids wasting time, and there is a nice scene at the end where Leni confronts her old boyfriend, who turns out to be a Nazi convert. Vorhaus knows enough to keep things moving and if the film doesn't have much of a personal style to it, it also has enough flair to keep it interesting.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 1/12/1999
  • UPC: 017153418903
  • Original Release: 1940
  • Rating:

  • Source: Republic Pictures
  • Format: VHS

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
John Wayne John Phillips
Sigrid Gurie Leni Braun
Charles Coburn Dr. Braun
Spencer Charters Dr. "Nunk" Atterbury, Veterinarian
Helen MacKellar Mrs. Welles
Wade Boteler Harris
Trevor Bardette Clem Higgins
Russell Simpson Minister
Wendell Niles Radio announcer
Sonny Bupp Billy Welles
Roland Varno Dr. Eric Von Schemer
Dewey Robinson Bartender
Technical Credits
Bernard Vorhaus Director
John Alton Cinematographer
Doris Anderson Screenwriter
Frederick Hugh Herbert Screenwriter
John Victor Mackay Art Director
Joseph Moncure March Screenwriter
William Morgan Editor
Samuel Ornitz Screenwriter
Adele Palmer Costumes/Costume Designer
Sol C. Siegel Associate Producer
Victor Young Score Composer
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