‘The Sons of Katie Elder’ Is a Better John Wayne Movie Than It Gets Credit For – Old western – My Blog
John Wayne built his career around Western and war movies, which makes it difficult for his fans to claim a favorite. True Grit, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Rio Bravo, and The Searchers are prominent favorites for good reason. However, Wayne’s The Sons of Katie Elder is a severely underrated project in his filmography.‘The Sons of Katie Elder’ ramped up John Wayne’s collaboration with Henry HathawayWayne and director Henry Hathaway first collaborated in 1941’s The Shepherd of the Hills. Together, they made another five feature films, next working on 1957’s Legend of the Lost alongside Sophia Loren. Wayne and Hathaway followed up with North to Alaska in 1960, Circus World with Rita Hayworth in 1964, and 1969’s True Grit.The second to last film Wayne and Hathaway worked on together was 1965’s The Sons of Katie Elder. John Elder (Wayne) and his three younger brothers come together after their ranch-owner mother, Katie, dies to honor her memory. However, they’re forced to set aside any differences to avenge the murder of their father and the swindling of their mother.The quality between Wayne and Hathaway’s films varies, but they ramped up to some of the actor’s greatest movies. True Grit finally won the actor his long-awaited Oscar after previous nominations for Sands of Iwo Jima and The Alamo. However, they ramped up to The Sons of Katie Elder and True Grit, both of which are extraordinary Westerns.‘The Sons of Katie Elder’ echoed why John Wayne was so successful in ‘Stagecoach’Wayne frequently faced criticism for his performances in The Sons of Katie Elder and beyond for playing strikingly similar characters. John is a gunfighter, but similar to his younger brothers, they’re all outcasts for their failures. Nevertheless, they look to their youngest brother, Bud, to pursue a college degree to save the family’s name. Wayne, Martin, Holliman, and Anderson lead the cast, creating a healthy ensemble.
Looking back to the early days of Wayne’s career, director John Ford brought the actor to new heights with 1939’s Stagecoach. The plot follows a group of unlikely, colorful characters traveling via stagecoach across various dangers, ultimately learning a great deal about one another.The Sons of Katie Elder echoed Stagecoach in how Wayne managed to stand out from the ensemble. Each of the brothers had his shining moments, but the legendary Western actor demonstrated why he was the movie star that he became. He tackled the character with strength, but he also showed moments of vulnerability reminiscing the past with John’s younger brothers.It can be easy to forget Wayne’s commanding presence on the silver screen when the narrative puts him at the center. However, The Sons of Katie Elder provided each of the brothers with emotional weight, putting his talents to the test against other actors with the potential to steal the spotlight.‘The Sons of Katie Elder’ brought John Wayne action scenes to the next levelThe Sons of Katie Elder is one of many Western movies Wayne made over the course of his career, which frequently put the setting at the forefront of storytelling. Hathaway still made that an important piece of his collaboration with Wayne, but he also emphasized character motivations that lead to a monumental action-filled Western.An ambush during a transport turns into a dynamic action sequence that further builds the stakes. It’s an eruptive conclusion filled with explosions and gunfighting. The Sons of Katie Elder emotionally resonates along with some particularly entertaining, memorable action scenes.