In this series of reviews, Killarney tries to watch every John Wayne movie since Stagecoach and shares her finds with you.
Synopsis: The four sons of Katie Elder return to their hometown of Clearwater for their mother's funeral, only to find that things have drastically changed. Their father died under mysterious circumstances, the family ranch is now owned by a man named Morgan Hastings, and their mother, a saintly woman beloved by all, died in suspicious poverty after sending her youngest son to college. The Elder boys want some answers, but Clearwater wants nothing to do with them and Hastings has a vested interest in getting rid of Katie's sons.
The Sons of Katie Elder is western mystery that asks the question: once your reputation is established, can you ever recover? John Elder is a gunslinger, Tom a card shark, and Matt an unsuccessful hardware dealer, all of whom neglected their mother and youngest brother, Bud. While trying to uncover the truth about their father's death, they learn a few hard ones about themselves - and when Hastings sets them up for murder, their reputations might just be their undoing.
Sons is a wicked good movie about bad men learning how to be good ones - and wondering whether its possible to do so in a society that already knows you. Wayne already touched the subject in Angel and the Badman, but Sons carries it to a darker, more realistic place. Wayne's character is determined that his younger brother won't go the same route he took, while wondering if it's too late for him to lead another kind of life. It's serious subject is lightened by the brothers' rapport with each other, but the final act of the movie is intense. When the brothers are falsely accused of murdering the popular town sheriff and a lynch mob forms, Martin's character decides to kill the guard to escape, only to be stopped by Wayne's. "I ain't facing no lynch mob," Martin says. "You ran in New Orleans and that's why we're here," Wayne replies. "This time we face it. Katie's going to win this one." It's this test of character that will prove whether or not the brothers are worthy of Katie's faith in them. This isn't just a good John Wayne movie. It's a great movie period. Highly recommended.
Best JW Quote:
Bud Elder: I'm going with you. I can draw pretty fast. We can be famous -- like the Dalton Brothers!
John Elder: They're famous -- but they're just a little bit dead. They were hung!
Best Swagger Moment: John Wayne comes in to find a hired gun harassing a local and takes the man out with one well-placed two-by-four.
JW Wisdom: "This time we face it. Katie's going to win this one."
Surprising Guest Star: James Gregory (General Ursus from Beneath the Planet of the Apes) plays Morgan Hastings. A very young Dennis Hopper plays his son.