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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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
When he is seen watching the funeral, the position of John Elder's hands change between the long shot (hanging by his side) and the close shot (his left on his hip, his right on his gun). A rock visible behind him in the long shot disappears as well. See more »
Mr. Hastings, you know everybody around here: Can you tell us who is the dirty stinkin' lowdown rat that shot our pa?
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John Wayne as the weathered, weary gunslinger determined to give his mother a better legacy; Dean Martin as the lovable, harmless con artist; Earl Holliman as the wild west version of the middle child; Michael Anderson, Jr. as the baby whose full of p**s, vinegar and gunfighter worship and tired of living by everyone's rules. Watching these four "express their opinions" is enough to make anyone want front row seats to the next reunion.
James Gregory as Hastings, the new man determined to have the town in his pocket; Dennis Hopper as his son; George Kennedy as the hired gun who really, really enjoys his work. Martha Hyer as the mother's friend who's tired of the violence. All wonderfully written characters and fleshed out believably.
While I do agree that this movie has a varied pace that drags at times and the music is distractingly close to "The Magnificent Seven" I still see the story of four sons who never realized the value of their own mother until her death.
The opening scene at the railroad depot sets the underlying tension and up until the cattle drive, all the supporting characters are walking on eggshells. Whether the townsfolk refuse to speak of the father's death or they berate the sons for their treatment of, or lack of, their mother, the sons receive no breaks throughout the film.
Regardless of the music, the direction and writing are at times both sufficient and excellent. With the town's protection of the deceased mother and scornfull arguments to the sons, as well as the relationships of the brothers themselves, this entire story is fleshed out no better than our own actual lives. Since when do brothers need an excuse to wrestle? Also, who would you rather spend ten years away from if not your family?
All told, the movie and story reflects the family dynamic and its affect on its surrounding, how the family extends to include neighbors as well. Basically, I'm glad I bought it.
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