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The Sons of Katie Elder

Talbot Jennings' story tells of four brothers - John Wayne a notorious gunslinger, Dean Martin a gambler - who return to their Texas home to attend their mother's funeral and remain to fight the town.

Talbot Jennings’ story tells of four brothers – John Wayne a notorious gunslinger, Dean Martin a gambler – who return to their Texas home to attend their mother’s funeral and remain to fight the town.

Two stars are joined by Earl Holliman and Michael Anderson Jr, latter the kid brother, in family setup. The three older brothers are prodigals who left home years before. The mother is never shown, but her influence is felt throughout the film as the three seniors decide that the best monument they can erect for their mother is to send her last-born back to college.

Drama takes form as the brothers decide to stay long enough to learn who murdered their father six months previously, look into the situation of their mother losing her ranch to a townsman, and a grim young deputy sheriff learning Martin is wanted for murder and deciding to bring the brothers in.

Wayne delivers one of his customary rugged portrayals, a little old, perhaps, to have such a young brother as Anderson but not so old that he lacks the attributes of a gunman. Martin, who plays his part with a little more humor than the others, is equally effective in a hardboiled characterization.

The Sons of Katie Elder

  • Production: Paramount. Director Henry Hathaway; Producer Hal Wallis; Screenplay William H. Wright, Allan Weiss, Harry Essex; Camera Lucien Ballard; Editor Warren Low; Music Elmer Bernstein; Art Director Hal Pereira, Walter Tyler
  • Crew: (Color) Widescreen. Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1965. Running time: 120 MIN.
  • With: John Wayne Dean Martin Martha Hyer Michael Anderson Jr Earl Holliman Dennis Hopper