The Sons of Katie Elder is a 1965 Paramount movie starring John Wayne, Dean Martin, and Earl Holliman. The original release date was moved out a year due to John Wayne's cancer treatment and the removal of some of his ribs and one lung.

Despite the surgeries Wayne went through, he insisted on doing most of his own stunts. He nearly dies of pneumonia contracted by inhalation of river water in one of the scenes.

The plot is based on a true story that screenwriter William Wright picked up for $1,000. The book was titled Life of the Marlows. After twelve years of rewrites, director Henry Hathaway was picked to direct the western, which was filmed in Mexico.


Four brothers return to a small town after their mother passed away. The mom was sweet, caring, and honest. Unfortunately, her sons did not turn out as well as she had hoped. John (played by Wayne) was the eldest, and a notorious gunslinger. Tom (played by Dean Martin) was the professional gambler. Matt (played by Holliman) was the former owner of a failed hardware store. Bud, the youngest, was a college student (played by Michael Anderson, Jr).

A local bully claims ownership of the ranch, saying he had won it in a blackjack game from their murdered father. There's lots of fighting and trechery, and it includes a rather funny performance by Dennis Hopper. Even George Kennedy makes an appearance as a hired gunslinger sent to clear off those pesky sons of Katie Elder.

Personally, I prefer Wayne's next film, the Oscar-winning True Grit. There's plenty of action in this one, and the star-studded cast means you're going to enjoy the show. Overall, I give this movie four and a half stars out of five. If you're looking for another John Wayne and Dean Martin film, the earlier Rio Bravo is a five-star example.

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