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The Sons of Katie Elder (1965) Poster

Trivia

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Dean Martin later said of John Wayne, "Someone else would have laid around, feeling sorry for himself, for a year. But Duke, he just doesn't know how to be sick. He's recuperating the hard way. He's two loud speaking guys in one. Me, when people see me, they sometimes say, 'Oh, there goes Perry Como.' But there's only one John Wayne, and nobody makes any mistakes about that".
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When John Wayne is dragged into the river, a child calls out, "Come on Dad!" This was his three-year-old son Ethan Wayne, who was watching off camera and knew how ill his father was. Wayne contracted a serious cold due to filming this scene, and narrowly avoided the cold worsening into full blown pneumonia.
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The gun battle was loosely based on the real-life story of the five Marlow brothers. These were five brothers whose parents had established a homestead in Oklahoma territory, The father was a doctor and the sons raised horses that they sold to the army. Four of the brothers were falsely accused of horse theft, were arrested and brought to Graham, Texas. The remaining brother arrived in hope of proving their innocence, but he was arrested too. After several attempts by a mob to lynch them, they were chained together and were being transported to Weatherford, Texas for trial. At Dry Creek, at the edge of the town of Graham, the mob attacked them. The brothers took the deputies' guns and a battle ensued, much as was portrayed in this film. Two of the brothers were killed. The others escaped. One was later poisoned and then shot in an attempt to make it seem he was shot avoiding capture. The killer was himself charged with murder. In 1891, during the trial of members of the mob, the judge had high praise for the Marlows for their courage and boldness, saying that it would be remembered in story and song. The remaining two brothers moved to Colorado and became well-respected lawmen.
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After being cast in the role of youngest son Bud Elder, Tommy Kirk was fired from the film after being arrested for possession of marijuana at a party on Christmas Eve 1964. Photographs of him wearing police handcuffs made the front pages of newspapers, and consequently he found it increasingly difficult to get film roles. The role of Bud was recast with Michael Anderson Jr..
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This movie marked the return of John Wayne to work after having a cancerous lung and two ribs removed just four months earlier. He insisted on doing some of his own stunts to show the public that the illness hadn't slowed him down.
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Before John Wayne signed on for the film in June 1964, Charlton Heston had been sought to play John Elder.
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Filming was due to begin in October 1964, but had to be delayed until January 1965 after John Wayne was diagnosed with lung cancer.
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Earl Holliman later said, "When you look at it and think of John Wayne who was 65 or so at the time [Wayne was nearly 58 during filming] and Dean Martin and me and Michael Anderson Jr. looked about 16 [Anderson was aged 21 during filming], all playing brothers, you said to yourself, 'What kind of woman was this Katie Elder?'."
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The film was originally to have been made in 1955 with Burt Lancaster and directed by John Sturges. However, Lancaster felt the story was routine.
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While John Wayne was recovering in the hospital from lung cancer surgery he learned that his younger brother Robert E. Morrison had also been diagnosed with lung cancer.
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Beginning with this movie, Chuck Roberson would double for John Wayne in long shots on horseback.
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George Kennedy recalled he was surprised to find that John Wayne still smoked cigars during filming despite having undergone major surgery, although he had stopped smoking cigarettes.
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John Wayne's own stunt double Chuck Roberson stood in for George Kennedy in the scene where Wayne's John Elder character hit George Kennedy's character Curley with an axe handle.
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The hearse featured at the funeral of Katie Elder currently resides in front of the Haunted Mansion at Walt Disney World.
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After John Wayne was diagnosed with lung cancer on September 13, 1964, he suggested Kirk Douglas should take his part in the movie. Henry Hathaway was determined not to re-cast, insisting that only Wayne should play John Elder. The producers suggested Robert Mitchum or William Holden in case Wayne did not survive surgery, or recover in time.
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According to the tombstone, Bass Elder was born in 1834 and died in 1898, making him sixty-three or sixty-four at the time of his death. The film is set in 1898 or early 1899, and his eldest son was played by fifty-seven-year-old John Wayne, who was playing a character much younger than himself.
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Curley estimates John Elder's weight at around 200 lbs. In fact John Wayne's weight had exceeded 260 lbs by the summer of 1964, although he lost weight after undergoing surgery for lung cancer in September.
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When Bud (portrayed by Michael Anderson Jr.) tells John (portrayed by John Wayne) that they could be famous like the Dalton gang, John reminds him the Daltons "were hung". Actually, three members of the Dalton gang were shot to pieces by the outraged citizens of Coffeyville, Kansas, when the gang tried to rob both town banks simultaneously in 1892. Survivor Emmett Dalton was shot twenty-three times, and spent fourteen years in prison.
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The name "Kate Elder", was one of several names used by Mary Katherine Horony Cummings, better known as "Big Nose Kate", a western icon and sometime companion of Doc Holliday.
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Because he had his lung removed, John Wayne relied on an oxygen tank on-location for the film. In fact, he required the use of the tank a lot, because the movie was shot primarily on-location in Durango, Mexico, which is six thousand feet above sea level.
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Dennis Hopper was a decade older than his character. Hopper was 28 years old at the time of filming, while the age of his character is mentioned to be age 18.
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In a December 1994 interview with Charlie Rose, Dennis Hopper credited John Wayne with saving his career, as Hopper acknowledged that because of his insolent behavior, he could not find work in Hollywood. Hopper stated that because he was the son-in-law of Margaret Sullavan, Wayne hired Hopper for a role in the film, although Wayne was not a producer for the film and his production company was not involved.
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John Wayne, Dean Martin, and Dennis Hopper would often go out drinking together.
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John Wayne caught a heavy cold towards the end of filming, after being dragged into the river for the water shootout/ambush scene.
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With John Wayne and Michael Anderson Jr., though they play brothers in this film, in real-life, Anderson Jr.'s father, film director Michael Anderson is 13 years-younger than Wayne, and four of Wayne's real-life children (including actor Patrick Wayne) are older than Anderson Jr.
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Despite this being a big-budget movie with a large cast, Karl Swenson was utilized to play two parts. He played "Doc Isdell" and also the bartender in the scene where Tom Elder (Dean Martin) auctioned his eye. The bartender part had more lines of dialogue.
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When Robert Mitchum was being considered for the role of John Elder, Stephen Boyd was being courted for the role of Tom Elder.
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The youngest brother Bud says he is almost eighteen, was portrayed by 21 year old Michael Anderson Jr., yet his elder brother John was supposed to be in his late 30s or early 40s, portrayed by John Wayne, who was nearly 58 years old when filming ended.
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John Wayne's paycheck was six hundred thousand dollars, plus ten percent of the profits, far in excess of any of the other actors in the film.
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John Wayne, aged fifty-seven, was thirty-six years older than Michael Anderson Jr., who played his youngest brother Bud. It is estimated that John Elder (Wayne) was supposed to be in his late 30s or early 40s.
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Despite having undergone major surgery to remove his left lung, John Wayne still managed to film a television special on behalf of Barry Goldwater in the 1964 Presidential election.
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John Wayne and George Kennedy also starred together in In Harm's Way (1965) and Cahill U.S. Marshal (1973). They were allies in "In Harm's Way" and enemies in the other two films.
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Michael Anderson, Jr. replaced Tommy Kirk at very short notice, due to Kirk being arrested for possession of marijuana.
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In addition to Karl Swenson playing two separate roles (the doctor and the bartender), two other uncredited actors play dual roles: The actor playing the train guard at the beginning of the movie, is also seen later (this time with a mustache) as one of Hastings gang. The same actor is seen as yet another character, passed by Dean Martin near the stables towards the climax. Boyd 'Red' Morgan was the uncredited actor who portrays the blacksmith, and is also seen (again disguised by a mustache) as a member of the posse.
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Henry Hathaway had previously directed Dennis Hopper in From Hell to Texas (1958), where they had personality clashes. Here, there were no such clashes. Hathaway even told Hopper that he had become a better, smarter actor since then.
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When the film rights were picked up by producer Hal B. Wallis, who had a deal with Paramount, in 1959 it was announced that Dean Martin would star as John Elder. Ultimately Martin portrayed Tom Elder.
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Johnny Cash sang a song in 1965 also called "The Sons of Katie Elder." Elmer Bernstein (who did the music for the film) and Ernie Sheldon wrote the song, but the song was not part of the film's song track.
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John Wayne's belt buckle bears the brand from another Wayne movie, Red River (1948).
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John Wayne was often spotted between takes swallowing vitamin pills, washed down with a heavy swig of mescal. He'd then shake himself before thundering, "Goddamn, I'm the stuff men are made of."
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The second western to feature John Wayne and Dean Martin. The first was Rio Bravo (1959). Both films were directed by men with the same initials, H.H., for Howard Hawks on "Rio Bravo," and Henry Hathaway on this film.
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Earl Holliman enjoyed working with John Wayne, although he did not like some of the reactionary things Wayne said. Both Wayne and Holliman were lifetime Republicans.
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This film premiered on ABC television on November 17, 1968, the same night as the infamous Heidi (1968) incident on rival network NBC.
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The same wanted poster of a man in a top hat smoking a cigar was used in El Dorado (1966), also starring John Wayne, and was a thinly veiled remake of Rio Bravo (1959), which also starred Wayne and Dean Martin.
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Although Ben Latta is described as a young deputy several times, Jeremy Slate was 38-39 years old at the time of filming.
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Remade in a modern setting as Four Brothers (2005), although this film has a higher IMDb rating, at 7.2, than Brothers does at 6.8.
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Henry Hathaway also directed John Wayne in True Grit (1969). In addition to Wayne, John Doucette, Strother Martin, Dennis Hopper, James Westerfield, and Jeremy Slate were in that film as well.
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Paramount Pictures purchased the story by William H. Wright and Talbot Jennings in 1955. The story concerned five brothers and centered around a cattle drive from Texas to Colorado. Samuel J. Briskin was assigned as producer. Frank Burt was to write the script, John Sturges was going to direct and Alan Ladd was to star, making a return to Paramount after several years' absence. He still owed Paramount one film. Noel Langley signed on to write a version of the script, and filming was to start in April 1956. However, in July 1956 it was announced that Ladd bought himself out of his Paramount commitment by paying one hundred thirty-five thousand dollars, and he would no longer make the film (Henry Hathaway put this figure at two hundred fifty thousand dollars). In the end, Paramount did take part in the production and distribution of the film, but the listed production company was Wallis-Hazen (as a Hal Wallis' Production).
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John Wayne was widely felt to be miscast in this film, due to his age.
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When the film was released there were complaints that the plot was little different than a B-western from the 1930s, some of which Wayne had starred in himself.
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Earl Holliman (who portrays Matt Elder) and Dennis Hopper (who portrays Dave Hastings) also appeared together in Giant (1956). In that movie, they were brothers-in-law. In this movie, they were enemies.
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Martha Hyer says in her autobiography that Henry Hathaway was socially charming but miserable to work with, reducing strong men to tears on every picture he made.
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When John Wayne "punches" Dean Martin in the breakfast ruckus he clearly strikes his hand on the open door and let's out an authentic "ouch" and grabs the hand. They evidently chose to leave this in the film.
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John Wayne (born 1907) was approximately ten years older than Dean Martin (born 1917), who was approximately eleven years older than Earl Holliman, who was approximately fifteen years older than Michael Anderson Jr.. All told, the age spread for the actors, who were portraying brothers, was approximately thirty-six years. All four of the actors were portraying characters who were younger than themselves by considerable margins.
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John Elder (John Wayne) fires a lever-action rifle at his leg chain to break it loose. Each time the lever is opened it must eject the spent shell casing so it can receive and load a new shell into the chamber. John fires and works the lever several times, but no shell casings are ejected.
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This is one of the 4 movies in which Paul Fix and John Qualen appear together. It is, also, one of 3 movies in which they both appear with John Wayne. They would also appear together in the The Streets of San Francisco: Winterkill (1973) episode of The Streets of San Francisco (1972).
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Italian-American Dean Martin was generally felt to look out of place as one of the Elders.
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It is generally regarded as the slowest film John Wayne appeared in, more so than "Rio Bravo".
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Audiences laughed when Bud said he was almost 18, as this meant he was 40 years younger than his screen brother John.
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Dean Martin wore larger lifts than he had in "Rio Bravo".
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When the Elder brothers are being driven out of town in chains, an American flag is flying over a building, and right under it, a Texas flag.
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The film was widely criticized for being overlong and too slow. The review in "The New York Times" stated: "As penned by three scenarists, the picture is far too long. The leisurely opening, the funeral of the unseen mother, and the furtive homecoming of the ne'er-do-well sons, is oblique and pretentious."
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When returning to the blacksmith, the characters "DA43" can be seen burned into a post. There is no apparent reason for this nor a connection to this film but it could represent initials and birthdate from another film shot at this Durango location, since Durango was a popular location for 1950s and 1960s westerns to e filmed.
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Early in the story, John Elder (John Wayne) strongly criticizes young brother Bud (Michael Anderson, Jr.) for using the word "clum" instead of "climbed." Later, however, when Bud expresses his admiration of the Dalton brothers, John says, "They were hung!" The proper past tense of an execution by hanging is "hanged."
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There were suggestions that John Wayne's support for Barry Goldwater increased the box office success of this film, as middle-aged white Americans who opposed the civil rights movement flocked to see it.
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Spoilers 

The trivia item below may give away important plot points.

John Elder (John Wayne) is the only Elder brother to not be shot or killed.
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