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The Sons of Katie Elder (1965)

Approved | | Western | 1 July 1965 (USA)
3:13 | Trailer

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Ranch owner Katie Elder's four sons determine to avenge the murder of their father and the swindling of their mother.



(screenplay), (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
1 win. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Sheldon Allman ...
Harry Evers
Mr. Vennar
Charlie Striker


The Elder boys return to Clearwater, Texas for their Mother's funeral. John the eldest is a well known gunfighter and trouble follows him wherever he goes. The boys try to get back their ranch from the towns gunsmith who won it from their father in a card game with which he was shortly murdered there after but not before getting through the troubles that come with the Elders name. Written by Christopher D. Ryan <cryan@direct.ca>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


They came from nobody knows where, to do God only knows what... See more »




Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

1 July 1965 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Die vier Söhne der Katie Elder  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$6,000,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


At 1:21:32, 1:21:39, 1:22:04 into the film and at the far left side of the screen, a swastika is clearly visible, scratched into the wall of the jail cell and at 1:22:05. John Wayne places his right hand over it. See more »


The shackle chains are about 5-6 feet long, yet when Tom and Bud go after the guns in the wagon at the bridge, they crawl along one after the other with their feet at least 10-12 feet apart and no chain sounds are heard dragging. See more »


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


Referenced in John Wayne: On Board with the Duke (1997) See more »

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User Reviews

From the four winds four brothers came… Their eyes smoking and their fingers itching…

Katie Elder bore four sons… The day she was buried they all return to the Texas town of Clearwater to pay their last respects…

John (John Wayne) is the oldest, the toughest, the gunfighter… Texas, its bigness and its violence echoes in his empty soul… Tom (Dean Martin) is a different breed of hombre… He is good with a deck of cards and good with a gun—when he has to be… Matt (Earl Holliman) is the quiet one… Nobody ever called him yellow—twice… Bud (Michael Anderson, Jr.) is the youngest, but he is the rebel one...

At the funeral are Sheriff Billy Wilson (Paul Fix) and his grim young deputy, Ben Latta (Jeremy Slate) who's real conscientious about his job… Also at the burial, in addition to many townspeople, is the young Mary Gordon (Martha Hyer), the woman who tries the impossible…

Mary visits the four brothers, brings them food, and is sardonic about their desertion of their mother… Only Bud, who has been going to college, shows a possibility of becoming a fine, respecting young man…

As the brothers investigate into the past and present circumstances of their mother's life, they find the old place is no longer hers and that she was penniless…

John discovers that his father supposedly gambled away the ranch when he was pretty drunk and that on the same night he was shot in the back…The only witnesses are Morgan Hastings (James Gregory) and his son Dave (Dennis Hopper)… The sheriff warns the Elders to stop digging around and to stay out of trouble…

Realizing that the only tribute to Ma Elder would be for Bud to finish college, the brothers pledge themselves to that cause… Yet they feel the loss of the ranch was under peculiar circumstances, they decide to find out the truth…

Henry Hathaway was one of the great versatile directors whose Westerns have been as variable in quality as his other films…

Hathaway's strong points were atmosphere, character and authentic locations… In "The Sons of Katie Elder" he took particular care with locations, proud of the fact that he is one of the few directors who handle their own second-unit work, and when this element combines successfully with the other two the result can be impressive indeed…

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