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Three Faces West

USA 1940
produced by
directed by Bernard Vorhaus
starring John Wayne, Sigrid Gurie, Charles Coburn, Spencer Charters, Helen MacKellar, Roland Varno, Sonny Bupp, Wade Boteler, Trevor Bardette, Russell Simpson, Charles Waldron, Wendell Niles, Frank Brownlee, Douglas Evans, Mary Field, Francis Ford, Byron Foulger, Si Jenks, Manuel París, Hank Patterson, Frederick Vogeding, Wolfgang Zilzer
written by F. Hugh Herbert, Joseph Moncure March, Samuel Ornitz, music by Victor Young

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Dr Karl Braun (Charles Coburn) and his daughter Leni (Sigrid Gurie) come to the US as refugees from the Nazi regime - but especially the doctor, despite being in his 60's, is adamant to continue working as a physician/surgeon as he did in Vienna, even if it's under harsher condition ... and eventually, he and Leni are shipped of to the Dust Bowl to a village hit by the worst dust storms in years. Leni insists on leaving right away, but the doctor, seeing all the sickness going on in the community, really can't just abandon ship - and interestingly, the vet (Spencer Charters), who has so far doubled as a physician out of necessity and who has feared the competition, becomes his first friend. As for Leni, she somehow falls for John (John Wayne), who's the leading figure among the local farmers, and who after the latest dust storm urges them to make the country work, to make irrogation work, to fight for their land ... so it's no big surprise that she falls for him and the two are already engaged to get married when Leni receives news that Erich (Roland Varno), her fiancé from back in Germany who has helped them free the country and was believed to have given his own life, has actually survived and is coming to the USA - a big blow for John.

Eventually, even John has to realize there's no surviving in the Dust Bowl, but the gouvernment has promised him and his people land in Oregon, so the whole community forms a treck going westwards - but he's strained as he knows Leni will leave him at some point, and there are some among his flock who want to go to California instead (where they would be nothing more than migrant harvest workers instead of farmers), and at some point he just wants to bail and elope with Leni - but ultimately he learns he has his duty with his people and she has got hers, so he takes them to Oregon alright ... while Leni reunites with Erich ... to find out he has become a Nazi - so their meeting is brief before she returns to John to finally get married.


While certainly not free of clichées, Three Faces West is nevertheless a rather ambitious film for little Republic, an actual drama that touches some very sensitive subjects, attacks the Nazis before this was en vogue. Plus while the film might lack the actual scale the majors routinely afforded back in the day, the movie really does try to make the best of its grand scenes (including a car treck through the desert). And since narrative and direction are tight and the cast is nothing short of competent, this is a pretty decent movie. No classic perhaps, but well worth a watch.


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD