The Sons of Katie Elder “Mr. Hastings, you know everybody around here: Can you tell us who is the dirty stinkin’ lowdown rat that shot our pa?” –John Elder When they get word their mother has had a stroke and died, four brothers who’ve been away for years return to their Texas hometown to pay their respects. The three older men are of dubious reputation. Only the youngest has maintained a life on the straight and narrow—so far. John, the eldest, is a notorious gunslinger, so fast on the draw his opponents barely have time to twitch a finger in the direction of their guns before they’re cut down. His reputation is such that wherever he goes, trouble soon follows. It’s not surprising he’s not welcome in many towns—including his own. Tom makes his living at the gambling tables, fully embracing all the “luxuries” associated with his chosen path. Matt is known as the quiet brother, but he, too, has his faults. The owner of a failing hardware store, he would show up on his mother’s doorstep every few years begging for money to keep his business afloat. Though Katie was proud of all her boys, Bud, the youngest, was her shining light. In him she saw hope for the future. She was determined he would stay on the right side of the law, become a success in life by going to college, and he followed her wishes, but now that she’s died, he has other pursuits in mind. Now, the four Elder boys receive a frosty welcome home by law enforcement, especially John. The Sheriff Billy Wilson and Deputy Ben Latta advise him to move on, and he’s happy to comply saying he intends to see to his mother’s affairs, reunite with his brothers for a bit, and take off as soon as possible. But when he finds out the 1,200 acre family ranch is no longer in his mother’s name, he starts asking questions, curious as to why she would sell off prime real estate. Morgan Hastings is particularly unhappy about John’s inquiries, as he now owns the Elder property. But he suspected trouble was coming. Anticipating John’s return, Morgan has hired Curly, a gunfighter whose reputation as a killer rivals John’s. Sheriff Billy tells John his father, Bass Elder, was killed six months earlier, but he has no idea who murdered him. Billy tells him no more. As the brothers go around town, settling their mother’s debts, they learn how loved she was. At the undertaker’s, John learns his father was shot in the back, killed in cold blood. The final stop is at the bank, where the brothers expect to withdraw the money from the sale of the ranch and split it, but when they get there, they’re greeted by an unfriendly banker who informs them their mother died a pauper, with a mere dollar in her account. He refuses to talk about the sale of the ranch, claiming the paperwork was destroyed in a fire, and he knows nothing. Now, the brothers are determined to get to the truth, and Hastings and Curly are determined to stop them at all costs, even resorting to murder. The Elder brothers are heading for a shootout, and much to the dismay of the older men, young, inexperienced Bud wants to be in the thick of it—his mother’s biggest fear.