The Sons of Katie Elder

Theatrical Release: July 1, 1965
DVD Release: June 5, 2001
The Sons of Katie Elder


Henry Hathaway directs the 1965 psychological western THE SONS OF KATIE ELDER. Four sons reunite in their Texas hometown to attend their mother’s funeral. John (John Wayne) is the gunfighter, Tom (Dean Martin) is the gambler, Matt (Earl Holliman) is the quiet one, and Bud (Michael Anderson Jr.) is the youngest. They soon learn that their father gambled away the family ranch, leading to his own murder. The brothers decide to find their father’s killer and get back the ranch, even though they are discouraged to do so by local Sheriff Billy Wilson (Paul Fix). When the sheriff turns up dead, the Elder boys are blamed for the murder. Deputy Sheriff Ben Latta (Jeremy Slate) joins forces with the only witnesses of the murder: Morgan Hastings (James Gregory) and his son Dave (Dennis Hopper). A gunfight breaks out between the Hastings gang and the Elder gang. After his brother Matt is killed, John decides to settle the ranch dispute in a court of law with a judge (Sheldon Allman). However, Tom decides to take matters into his own hands by kidnapping Dave. After the final climactic gunfight, John and the wounded Bud retreat to a rooming house owned by Mary Gordon (Martha Hyer)

Dove Review

Here is another of John Wayne’s classic westerns. Although this one was made in the 1940s, it contains all the elements needed. There are the good guys, the bad guys, and at least one woman to add to the story. Of course in a western you can’t forget to add in the gun fights and explosions. To top it all out, good versus evil.

They do not make westerns like this one anymore. The gun fights show blood but not like they do in today’s movies where blood and guts have to fly. When using a gun in the old west it was for hunting and protection. Things were different then. “The Sons of Katie Elder” is an entertaining movie that will be enjoyed for years. Dove awards this movie the Dove “Family-Approved” Seal for 12+ due to content that may frighten young children.

Content Description

Faith: None
Violence: Fist fight, gun Fights; explosions; scenes of men shot with blood; a building is blown up.
Sex: None
Language: OL and OG in a funeral service.
Violence: Fist fight, gun Fights; explosions; scenes of men shot with blood; a building is blown up.
Drugs: Smoking; men drinking whiskey in saloon.
Nudity: None
Other: Gambling; cheating people out of property, revenge.


Company: Paramount Home Entertainment
Director: Henry Hathaway
Genre: Western
Runtime: 121 min.
Reviewer: Donna Rolfe