|John Wayne had recently recovered|
from lung cancer.
|Michael Anderson, Jr. replaced|
Tommy Kirk after a scandal involving
Instead of going their separate ways again after the funeral, the brothers decide to look into their father's murder. Though they can't find any witnesses nor evidence, they become suspicious of Morgan Hastings, a gun-maker who now owns the old Elder ranch. The town's mortician confides to John: "Hastings' bent on taking over the whole county." As the audience, we already know Hastings is bad--he has hired a gunfighter (George Kennedy) to dispose of John. It quickly becomes apparent that The Sons of Katie Elder is heading steadily toward a major showdown.
|John Elder watches the funeral.|
Anthony Mann explored the importance of family masterfully in his adult Westerns of the 1950s. One wonders how Mann would have handled this material with a different cast (e.g., imagine an embittered James Stewart as John!). But The Sons of Katie Elder has no intentions of being a "serious Western." Yes, there are killings, but the bickering brothers also brawl playfully whether carousing in Mom's cabin or throwing each other in a river. And when it turns somewhat serious toward the end, the film jettisons its "importance of family" theme in favor of two lengthy shootout scenes.
|Dean co-starred with the Duke twice.|