Less that four months after the operation to have his left lung removed, still having considerable trouble breathing, John Wayne embarked on one of his most strenuous roles ever, gunfighter John Elder in The Sons of Katie Elder (1965). It was a part that required Wayne to ride hard, fall off horses and repeatedly dive into frigid mountain waters.
“On location in Durango, Mexico, he amazed me,” the film’s producer Hal Wallis stated in his autobiography. “Even though he was functioning on one lung and had a terrible scar running down his back, he showed no sign of illness or weakness. He did this own riding, roped in steers, rounded up cattle, and handled the fight scenes without a double. Only occasionally, in high country, was he short of breath.” John Wayne shows up again here as the nod for the Best Movie Stunt for 1965, exactly 20 years after his first appearance on the list with the Best Movie Stunt for 1945 for Back To Bataan.
It’s interesting to note the name “Kate Elder”, was one of several names used by Mary Katherine Horony Cummings, better known as “Big Nose Kate”, a western icon and sometime companion of Doc Holliday. It’s also interesting that not only did Henry Hathaway direct this film as well as our Best Movie Stunt for 1964, Circus World, but also four years later, Hathaway also directed John Wayne in his Academy Award-winning role of Rooster Cogburn in the original screen version of True Grit.Things to look up (click on item to go to IMDB page):