The Sons of Katie Elder


2h 2m 1965
The Sons of Katie Elder

Brief Synopsis

A ranch-owner's four sons vow to avenge their father's death.

Film Details

Genre
Drama
Western
Release Date
Jan 1965
Premiere Information
Chicago opening: 23 Jun 1965
Production Company
Hal Wallis Productions
Distribution Company
Paramount Pictures
Country
United States
Location
Sierra Madre Occidental, Mexico; Northern Plateau, Mexico

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 2m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Synopsis

Katie Elder's four sons return to Clearwater, Texas, for her funeral. John, the eldest, is a notorious gunslinger, and of the four, only Bud, who has been going to college, shows signs of being responsible. The brothers learn that Pa Elder supposedly got drunk and gambled away the family ranch and was killed on the same night. They decide to investigate the peculiar circumstances and unearth the truth, despite warnings from the sheriff to stay out of trouble. Morgan Hastings and his son Dave had been the only witnesses to the events. In order to protect themselves, the Hastings kill the sheriff, and the Elder brothers, whose reputations were poor to begin with, are blamed. The deputy sheriff swears in a group of Hastings' men to take the Elders to Laredo, unaware that they have been ordered to slaughter the Elders. In the gunfight that ensues, Matt Elder and the deputy sheriff are killed; and those of Hastings' men who escape return to tell that they were ambushed by John Elder's gang. The Elders return to town to get medical attention for Bud; John tells the judge what really happened; and the judge consents to his request that the brothers surrender to a U. S. marshal. Meanwhile, Tom sneaks away and captures Dave Hastings to force from him a confession. When Morgan Hastings goes to rescue Dave, he shoots his son by mistake. Before he dies, Dave reveals that his father shot Pa Elder. Tom, who is mortally wounded, makes John responsible for Bud's upbringing. John engages Morgan Hastings in a gun duel and kills him. Mary, who was a friend of Katie Elder and a close observer of the recent events, assures John that Bud will survive.

Film Details

Genre
Drama
Western
Release Date
Jan 1965
Premiere Information
Chicago opening: 23 Jun 1965
Production Company
Hal Wallis Productions
Distribution Company
Paramount Pictures
Country
United States
Location
Sierra Madre Occidental, Mexico; Northern Plateau, Mexico

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 2m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Articles

The Sons of Katie Elder


When Katie Elder died in Clearwater, Texas, her four sons, John (John Wayne), Tom (Dean Martin), Matt (Earl Holliman), and Bud (Michael Anderson, Jr.) came home to pay their respects. They learn that their father was a drunk who gambled away the family ranch on the night he was killed; however, the only witnesses were Morgan Hastings (James Gregory) and his son, Dave (Dennis Hopper). The two decide to cover their tracks by murdering Sheriff Billy Wilson (Paul Fix) and pinning the blame on John Elder and his brothers. Soon they are railroaded by the local townspeople, but John convinces the local judge of the facts and he agrees to bring in a U.S. Marshal. Meanwhile, Tom Elder kidnaps Dave to extract a confession from him; both are mortally wounded by Morgan, but Dave's deathbed confession is overheard by the judge, clearing the brothers.

A scant four months before production for The Sons of Katie Elder (1965) began, the 57-year-old Wayne had faced the first round of his battle with cancer. His left lung had been rejected, and against the advice of doctors and family he went ahead with the picture, insisting on doing his own stunts and action segments. The Duke was in excruciating pain through much of the filming, relying on oxygen in the thin air of the Durango, Mexico location, but audiences would have been none the wiser had he not come clean about his operation. Shocked by the lung cancer death of Nat King Cole in early l965, he decided to be completely open about his condition (director Hathaway also confessed to a cancer operation several years before). Rather than ruining his career as some feared, Wayne was applauded for his honesty; cancer victims desperately asked for "John Wayne's operation" after his revelation was made public.

In 1965, things were changing in Hollywood. The studio system had undergone a drastic revamp, and the old guard of directors, producers and stars were aging and being replaced by younger personalities. The Sons of Katie Elder, though, was a traditional Western by sixties standards. Helmed by veteran director Henry Hathaway, it brought together Dean Martin, Paul Fix, Strother Martin, James Gregory and several other stars and character actors who had worked with the Duke several times before. Far from being a simple John Wayne vehicle, the stock company, under the direction of Hathaway, worked together like a well-oiled machine to make a straightforward, unpretentious genre film that delivers the goods. Elmer Bernstein's music score is a wonderful throwback to the glory days of the Hollywood Western and the title song is performed by Johnny Cash.

Producer: Joseph H. Hazen (executive producer), Hal B. Wallis
Director: Henry Hathaway
Screenplay: Harry Essex, Talbot Jennings (story), Allan Weiss, William H. Wright
Production Design: Hal Pereira, Walter H. Tyler
Cinematography: Lucien Ballard
Costume Design: Edith Head
Film Editing: Warren Low
Original Music: Elmer Bernstein
Principal Cast: John Wayne (John Elder), Dean Martin (Tom Elder), Martha Hyer (Mary Gordon), Michael Anderson Jr. (Bud Elder), Earl Holliman (Matt Elder).
C-122m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning.

By Jerry Renshaw

The Sons Of Katie Elder

The Sons of Katie Elder

When Katie Elder died in Clearwater, Texas, her four sons, John (John Wayne), Tom (Dean Martin), Matt (Earl Holliman), and Bud (Michael Anderson, Jr.) came home to pay their respects. They learn that their father was a drunk who gambled away the family ranch on the night he was killed; however, the only witnesses were Morgan Hastings (James Gregory) and his son, Dave (Dennis Hopper). The two decide to cover their tracks by murdering Sheriff Billy Wilson (Paul Fix) and pinning the blame on John Elder and his brothers. Soon they are railroaded by the local townspeople, but John convinces the local judge of the facts and he agrees to bring in a U.S. Marshal. Meanwhile, Tom Elder kidnaps Dave to extract a confession from him; both are mortally wounded by Morgan, but Dave's deathbed confession is overheard by the judge, clearing the brothers. A scant four months before production for The Sons of Katie Elder (1965) began, the 57-year-old Wayne had faced the first round of his battle with cancer. His left lung had been rejected, and against the advice of doctors and family he went ahead with the picture, insisting on doing his own stunts and action segments. The Duke was in excruciating pain through much of the filming, relying on oxygen in the thin air of the Durango, Mexico location, but audiences would have been none the wiser had he not come clean about his operation. Shocked by the lung cancer death of Nat King Cole in early l965, he decided to be completely open about his condition (director Hathaway also confessed to a cancer operation several years before). Rather than ruining his career as some feared, Wayne was applauded for his honesty; cancer victims desperately asked for "John Wayne's operation" after his revelation was made public. In 1965, things were changing in Hollywood. The studio system had undergone a drastic revamp, and the old guard of directors, producers and stars were aging and being replaced by younger personalities. The Sons of Katie Elder, though, was a traditional Western by sixties standards. Helmed by veteran director Henry Hathaway, it brought together Dean Martin, Paul Fix, Strother Martin, James Gregory and several other stars and character actors who had worked with the Duke several times before. Far from being a simple John Wayne vehicle, the stock company, under the direction of Hathaway, worked together like a well-oiled machine to make a straightforward, unpretentious genre film that delivers the goods. Elmer Bernstein's music score is a wonderful throwback to the glory days of the Hollywood Western and the title song is performed by Johnny Cash. Producer: Joseph H. Hazen (executive producer), Hal B. Wallis Director: Henry Hathaway Screenplay: Harry Essex, Talbot Jennings (story), Allan Weiss, William H. Wright Production Design: Hal Pereira, Walter H. Tyler Cinematography: Lucien Ballard Costume Design: Edith Head Film Editing: Warren Low Original Music: Elmer Bernstein Principal Cast: John Wayne (John Elder), Dean Martin (Tom Elder), Martha Hyer (Mary Gordon), Michael Anderson Jr. (Bud Elder), Earl Holliman (Matt Elder). C-122m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning. By Jerry Renshaw

Quotes

I'm going with you. I can draw pretty fast. We can be famous -- like the Dalton Brothers!
- Bud Elder
They're famous -- but they're just a little bit dead. They were hung!
- John Elder

Trivia

This picture marked the return of 'Wayne, John' to work after having a cancerous lung removed nearly 18 months before. He insisted on doing all his own stunts to show the moviegoing public that the illness hadn't slowed him down.

Notes

According to a February 10, 1955 Hollywood Reporter news item, Samuel J. Briskin was initially assigned to be the producer of the film, but was later replaced by Hal B. Wallis. Partly filmed in Mexico on the northern plateau and in the Sierra Madre Occidental.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Summer June 23, 1965

Released in USA on video.

Released in United States Summer June 23, 1965