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Sons of Katie Elder, The (Paramount 1965, John Wayne, Dean Martin)



John Wayne, nearing the end of his fifth decade and having beaten his first bout with cancer, continued to make at least a film a year (often more than one), many of them Westerns, The Sons of Katie Elder being among the most popular of the period.

He plays the eldest Elder son, John, a Texas gunslinger reunited at his mother’s funeral with brothers Dean Martin, a gambler, Earl Holliman, and college boy Michael Anderson Jr. The brothers begin investigating the death of their father despite being warned off by the local sheriff, and when they discover that James Gregory and his son Dennis Hopper were the only witnesses, trouble ensues. Elmer Bernstein contributed another of his signature Western scores.

Writing about The Sons of Katie Elder, critic Andrew Sarris observed, ‘The virtues of this kind of western are largely negative: that is, anti-pop, anti-camp and anti-pretentious.’

production details
USA | Paramount | 122 minutes | 1965

Director: Henry Hathaway
Script: Harry Essex, Talbot Jennings, Allan Weiss, William H. Wright,

John Wayne as John Elder
Paul Fix as Sheriff Billy Wilson
George Kennedy as Curley
Strother Martin as Jeb Ross
James Westerfield as Mr. Vennar
John Litel as Minister
Percy Helton as Mr. Peevey
Rodolfo Acosta as Bondie Adams
John Qualen as Charlie Biller
Jeremy Slate as Ben Latta
Dean Martin as Tom Elder
Martha Hyer as Mary Gordon
Michael Anderson Jr. as Bud Elder
Earl Holliman as Matt Elder
James Gregory as Morgan Hastings
Dennis Hopper as Dave Hastings
Sheldon Allman as Harry Evers
John Doucette as Hyselman
Rhys Williams as Charlie Striker
Karl Swenson as Doc Isdell