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The Sons of Katie Elder (1965)

Approved  |   |  Western  |  1 July 1965 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 9,742 users  
Reviews: 52 user | 32 critic

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



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Jeremy Slate ...
Sheldon Allman ...
Harry Evers
James Westerfield ...
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


From the four winds they came, the four brothers, their eyes smoking and their fingers itching... See more »




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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

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


According to the tombstone, Bass Elder was born in 1834 and died in 1898, making him 63 or 64 at the time of his death. The film is set in 1898 or early 1899, and his eldest son is played by 57-year-old John Wayne. See more »


After Matt is killed, John takes a revolver from Matt's holster and pulls the one he has in his holster and begins wildly firing them both until they are empty. Only problem is, the revolver that John had was already empty, and Matt didn't have one to begin with. They only had the revolver that John pulled from the deputy driver's holster when he stood up to tell his boys to start shooting as they were stopped on the bridge, and John pushed him off the wagon. Even if the revolvers and rifles all shot the same bullets, John's revolver was never reloaded and it was the only one they should have had. See more »


John Elder: All we want to do is make you end up rich and respectable. You fight us every step of the way.
Bud Elder: I don't want to be rich and respectable. I want to be just like the rest of you.
See more »


Featured in Edith Head: The Paramount Years (2002) See more »


The Sons Of Katie Elder
Performed by The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra
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User Reviews

Entertaining Wayne Oater!
17 January 2006 | by (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada) – See all my reviews

"The Sons of Katie Elder", though not one of John Wayne's best westerns, is very entertaining nonetheless. Director Henry Hathaway keeps the story moving providing us with breathtaking scenery and a rousing finale. We are also treated to another rousing score from composer Elmer Bernstien.

The story has the four Elder brothers, John (Wayne), Tom (Dean Martin), Matt (Earl Holliman) and Bud (Michael Anderson Jr.) returning home to Clearwater, Texas for their mother's funeral (the "Katie" of the title). It seems that Katie had been held in reverence by the townspeople while eking out a living to enable the youngest, Bud to attend college.

Their father had also died six months earlier and had apparently lost the family ranch in a poker game. Further investigation reveals that he had been murdered by being shot in the back.

Number one suspect is the town gunsmith Morgan Hastings (James Gregory). Hastings it seems, has acquired the Elder ranch and lives there with his spineless son Dave (Dennis Hopper). Hastings has also hired gunfighter Curley (George Kennedy) to help him get rid of the Elders.

When town sheriff Billy Watson (Paul Fix) is murdered Deputy Ben Latta (Jeremy Slate) immediately blames the Elders and arrests them. While transporting his prisoners to another venue they are ambushed and.......

This was the first film for Wayne following his surgery for cancer. You'll notice that he wears a large bandanna over his neck, presumably to hide the scars and/or the jowls. He was now beginning to show his age and the fact that at nearing age 60, he was still playing a character presumably much younger, kind of detracts a little from his credibility in the role. But hey its John Wayne. Who really cared?

As in most of Wayne's films, the cast includes a roster of recognizable faces. Martha Hyer provides window dressing as Wayne's potential love interest. Also in the cast are John Qualen as the jailer, John Litel as the minister, John Doucette as the undertaker, James Westerfield as the banker, Karl Swenson as the bartender, Rhys Williams as Striker the horse rancher, Strother Martin as the guy who "wins" Martin's glass eye, Percy Helton as the storekeeper and Rudolfo Acosta and Chuck Roberson as contends.

The two plus hour running time goes by quickly. Don't miss the scene where Wayne cold cocks Kennedy or the final shootout.

15 of 21 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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