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The Sons of Katie Elder

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Editorial Reviews

Four sons attend their mother's Texas funeral and avenge their slain father. Directed by Henry Hathaway.

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: John Wayne, Dean Martin, Martha Hyer, Michael Anderson Jr., Earl Holliman
  • Directors: Henry Hathaway
  • Writers: Allan Weiss, Harry Essex, Talbot Jennings, William H. Wright
  • Producers: Hal B. Wallis, Joseph H. Hazen, Paul Nathan
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Paramount
  • DVD Release Date: June 5, 2001
  • Run Time: 122 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (298 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005ASGH
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #47,475 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Sons of Katie Elder" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Jan Peczkis on September 15, 2007
Format: DVD
The setting of this western is the town of Clearwater, TX (near Laredo), probably in the 1870's. The four sons of Katie Elder, who had not seen each other, or her, in years, come to her funeral. The eldest brother, John Elder (John Wayne), watches the funeral from a distance.

Why are some of the townspeople anxious for John Elder, a gunslinger, to leave the town as soon as possible after the funeral? The brothers do not get straight answers as to how it was that their mother had recently lost her property, and begin to smell a rat. They also learn that their father had been murdered, but no one will say who was responsible.

A woman who was a close friend of Katie Elder describes Mrs. Elder as a devout woman of character, and how disappointed she was in her four sons. At least some of Katie Elder's sons mailed her letters and money, but had otherwise gone down the wrong paths in life. Mrs. Elder at least wanted one of them to go to college, but he balked. The woman did not want to discuss the murder of Mr. Elder because Katie Elder didn't want vengeance and further violence.

Three of the brothers wanted to fulfill their mother's wishes that the remaining one go to college, but he continues to balk. John Elder keeps the pressure on.

Sibling rivalry exists even in adulthood. At one time, all four brothers are involved in a brawl. At another time, they drag each other into a body of water.

The conspiracy of silence about Mrs. Elder's property and her murdered husband begins to unravel despite the current owners' persistent efforts to have it stifled. In time, the current owners of Mrs. Elder's property frame the four sons for murder. The local law enforcement officials seem ready to believe the charge with no evidence, and a lynch mob surrounds the prison. There is a massive shootout, and three of the four brothers are wounded. Will any of these three survive? Will they be able to clear the Elder name of the murder charge?
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By T O'Brien on January 7, 2003
Format: DVD
In the 1960s, John Wayne went through his first fight with cancer and won, and coming back to the big screen the Duke didn't disappoint with The Sons of Katie Elder his first movie back. Following their mother's death, the four Elder boys, John, the gunslinger, Tom, the gambler, Matt, the businessman, and Bud, the youngest, return home to Clearwater, Texas for her funeral. In hopes of setting things right, the Elders try to leave a memorial for their mother by clearing their name, but right away things go awry. Their father Bass was killed under suspicious circumstances and lost the family ranch in a card game so can the Elders figure out what happened all while leaving something to make their deceased mother proud? When it comes to John Wayne westerns, this one is a notch above the others. It's a good old-fashioned western with the good guys vs. the bad guys. There's some great locations in Durango, including the Mexican village from Major Dundee, and Elmer Bernstein turns in a lively western score that you'll be humming for days afterward. John Wayne fans and western fans alike will not be disappointed with this one.

Playing the oldest of the Elder brothers, John Wayne stars as John Elder, the gunslinger who sees his brothers for the first time in years at his mother's funeral. It's John who leads the effort to make a name for the family in honor of their much-beloved mother. Dean Martin plays Tom, the second oldest brother who's quick with cards and a gun. Wayne and Martin are great here together, just like in Rio Bravo. Earl Holliman and Michael Anderson JR are the other two brothers, Matt and Bud, who doesn't want to go back to college even at his brothers' encouragement.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 14, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
This is a vastly underrated western that deserves greater exposure. Its a wonderful morality play about a good woman's sons gone bad and the last chance they have to redeem themselves. John Wayne and Dean Martin are superb and the rousing musical score by Elmer Bernstien is itself worth the price of the video.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Forrest Wildwood VINE VOICE on September 7, 2005
Format: VHS Tape
"Texas is a women, she used to say, a big wild beautiful women. You get a kid raised up to where he's got some size and there's Texas whispering in his ear smiling saying..come out with me and have some fun. Hard enough to raise children any place, when ya gotta fight Texas a mother hasn't a chance. That's why she pushed Bud so hard. She let Texas beat her with the rest of you. She was going to see Bud through college or die....well..she died."

Those quiet reflecting words were spoken by Martha Hyer, to the four brothers, to help try and get them to understand who their mother was and what her desires were. This is a very much under-rated movie. From the opening credits as the train pulls through the river gorge into town, with Elmer Bernstein's great musical score playing in the back, this is a good movie. It is about four brothers coming back to town from being away from their home for years. They are back to attend the funeral of their mother, Katie Elder, whom they really never knew.

We learn about Katie from the towns people who attend the funeral. From the mother who named her baby 'Katie' after their mother,the preacher, the rancher she traded the blind horse, the banker, the merchant and the undertaker. All these knew Katie better than her sons. She seems to have confided alot with Mary, Martha Hyer, and had her look in on her sons.

We learn about her sons, John the gunfigher..who attended the funeral from a distance, Tom the gambler..who always wants to bet, Matt the hardware man..who is really only there out of duty, and Bud the man but doesn't want to stay or go to college...he wants to follow his exciting brothers.

We also learn that the ranch they thought they would inherit wasn't Katie's anymore..
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