The Rare Breed


1h 37m 1966
The Rare Breed

Brief Synopsis

A brave woman tries to breed her English bull with western cattle.

Film Details

Genre
Romance
Drama
Adventure
Western
Release Date
Jan 1966
Premiere Information
Fort Worth, Texas, opening: 2 Feb 1966
Production Company
Universal Pictures
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 37m
Sound
Mono (Westrex Recording System)
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Synopsis

Martha Price, an English widow, arrives in Saint Louis in 1884 with her daughter Hilary, 4 milking cows, and Vindicator, a hornless Hereford bull. She hopes to sell the bull for breeding purposes, believing that the crossbreeding process will improve upon the lean longhorn cattle prevalent in the West. Vindicator is sold to cattle baron Alexander Bowen, a widower originally from Scotland, and saddle tramp Sam Burnett is hired to deliver the bull to Bowen's Texas ranch. Burnett is skeptical of Martha's theories and is at first party to a scheme to swindle her, but he soon changes sides. En route to Texas, James, Bowen's son, is injured in an unsuccessful attempt by roughnecks to steal Vindicator. Martha and Hilary also go to Bowen's ranch, and Bowen falls in love with Martha. Hilary and James fall in love while she is nursing him back to health, and they plan to marry. That winter, Vindicator and some of the other cattle are lost on the range. When the bull is found dead and it is not known whether he mated successfully, Martha resigns herself to marrying Bowen. But Sam, converted to Martha's theories and a new man because he has something to believe in, goes on a long search of the range and returns with a Hereford calf. Martha then decides to stay in Texas, marry Sam, and raise Herefords.

Film Details

Genre
Romance
Drama
Adventure
Western
Release Date
Jan 1966
Premiere Information
Fort Worth, Texas, opening: 2 Feb 1966
Production Company
Universal Pictures
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 37m
Sound
Mono (Westrex Recording System)
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Articles

The Rare Breed


The Rare Breed (1966) is that rare Western that is actually about cattle and the cattle business. Specifically, its plot deals with the introduction of Hereford cattle into the United States in 1884. The Herefords were a stocky, white-faced breed from Britain which produced better beef than the American longhorn. The idea of crossing these two breeds was widely scorned in the 1880s, with American cattlemen deriding the hornless Herefords as not tough enough to survive the long American winters. In the end, however, the cross breeding worked out fine.

So fine, in fact, that most of the cattle American moviegoers have seen since cameras first started rolling are in fact Herefords - regardless of whether a movie's story takes place before or after 1884. This is because Herefords are much more impressive visually than the scrawny Texas longhorns, and most Hollywood Westerns (given a choice) go with appearance over authenticity. As historian Jenni Calder has written, "John Wayne's herd in Red River [1948], years before a Hereford ever crossed the Mississippi, was suspiciously tainted with the familiar white blotched faces of that attractive breed of cattle."

In any event, The Rare Breed uses the actual debates over the Herefords as a framework for its story of British cattle breeder Martha Evans's determined effort to deliver her Hereford bull (named "Vindicator") to Alexander Bowen's Texas ranch. Helping her with the trek is Sam Burnett (James Stewart), a somewhat skeptical cowpoke. Burnett, in fact, has accepted a bribe to swindle Martha (Maureen O'Hara) along the way. But as he guides her through the country, protecting her from rustlers and stampedes, he starts to admire Martha and her ideals and eventually becomes her biggest supporter. In Texas, the plot shifts to whether the bull can in fact survive the winter and cross-breed with a longhorn.

Of course the outcome is never really in doubt and one of the film's great pleasures is its top notch veteran cast, which also includes such venerable supporting players as Harry Carey, Jr., Ben Johnson and Jack Elam. Elam, who here plays a colorful cattle rustler, was a constant delight in a career that spanned 50 years before his death last October at age 84.

It's a genial Western, much like Shenandoah the year before, which also starred Stewart and which also was directed by Andrew McLaglen. Though McLaglen never brought much of a personal visual style to his films (and certainly nothing to compare with that of his mentor John Ford), his pictures were often robust, with strong action scenes. Further, he knew how to effectively exploit Stewart's iconic image as a Western hero even though the actor's popularity was beginning to wane at this point of his career. Stewart's kind of Western was simply on the way out, and the few Western roles that allowed him to play multi-dimensional characters, such as The Rare Breed, were rare indeed.

The critics were kind to The Rare Breed. Time admired "the green-eyed beauty of Maureen O'Hara, who makes Technicolor seem a necessity." The New York Times called the film "tasty, a little overcooked with sentiment perhaps, but amusingly salted at the edges. The kind of frontier opus that Mr. Stewart personifies with his laconic expertise year in year out."

And The Hollywood Reporter also lavished Stewart with praise: "The scene where Stewart finds the calf, with the camera entirely on Stewart's face, is one of great poignance and tenderness. It is only one shot, that of Stewart's face, but it is the crux of the picture, and Stewart once again, as he has a hundred times, shows what it means to understand acting and to make it meaningful."

The subject of Hereford cattle had previously been treated in at least two other Westerns: The Untamed Breed (1948) and The Longhorn (1951).

Producer: William Alland
Director: Andrew V. McLaglen
Screenplay: Ric Hardman
Cinematography: William H. Clothier
Film Editing: Russell F. Schoengarth
Art Direction: Alexander Golitzen, Alfred Ybarra
Music: John Williams
Cast: James Stewart (Sam Burnett), Maureen O'Hara (Martha Evans), Brian Keith (Alexander Bowen), Juliet Mills (Hilary Price), Jack Elam (Deke Simons), Don Galloway (Jamie Bowen).
C-97m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning.

by Jeremy Arnold
The Rare Breed

The Rare Breed

The Rare Breed (1966) is that rare Western that is actually about cattle and the cattle business. Specifically, its plot deals with the introduction of Hereford cattle into the United States in 1884. The Herefords were a stocky, white-faced breed from Britain which produced better beef than the American longhorn. The idea of crossing these two breeds was widely scorned in the 1880s, with American cattlemen deriding the hornless Herefords as not tough enough to survive the long American winters. In the end, however, the cross breeding worked out fine. So fine, in fact, that most of the cattle American moviegoers have seen since cameras first started rolling are in fact Herefords - regardless of whether a movie's story takes place before or after 1884. This is because Herefords are much more impressive visually than the scrawny Texas longhorns, and most Hollywood Westerns (given a choice) go with appearance over authenticity. As historian Jenni Calder has written, "John Wayne's herd in Red River [1948], years before a Hereford ever crossed the Mississippi, was suspiciously tainted with the familiar white blotched faces of that attractive breed of cattle." In any event, The Rare Breed uses the actual debates over the Herefords as a framework for its story of British cattle breeder Martha Evans's determined effort to deliver her Hereford bull (named "Vindicator") to Alexander Bowen's Texas ranch. Helping her with the trek is Sam Burnett (James Stewart), a somewhat skeptical cowpoke. Burnett, in fact, has accepted a bribe to swindle Martha (Maureen O'Hara) along the way. But as he guides her through the country, protecting her from rustlers and stampedes, he starts to admire Martha and her ideals and eventually becomes her biggest supporter. In Texas, the plot shifts to whether the bull can in fact survive the winter and cross-breed with a longhorn. Of course the outcome is never really in doubt and one of the film's great pleasures is its top notch veteran cast, which also includes such venerable supporting players as Harry Carey, Jr., Ben Johnson and Jack Elam. Elam, who here plays a colorful cattle rustler, was a constant delight in a career that spanned 50 years before his death last October at age 84. It's a genial Western, much like Shenandoah the year before, which also starred Stewart and which also was directed by Andrew McLaglen. Though McLaglen never brought much of a personal visual style to his films (and certainly nothing to compare with that of his mentor John Ford), his pictures were often robust, with strong action scenes. Further, he knew how to effectively exploit Stewart's iconic image as a Western hero even though the actor's popularity was beginning to wane at this point of his career. Stewart's kind of Western was simply on the way out, and the few Western roles that allowed him to play multi-dimensional characters, such as The Rare Breed, were rare indeed. The critics were kind to The Rare Breed. Time admired "the green-eyed beauty of Maureen O'Hara, who makes Technicolor seem a necessity." The New York Times called the film "tasty, a little overcooked with sentiment perhaps, but amusingly salted at the edges. The kind of frontier opus that Mr. Stewart personifies with his laconic expertise year in year out." And The Hollywood Reporter also lavished Stewart with praise: "The scene where Stewart finds the calf, with the camera entirely on Stewart's face, is one of great poignance and tenderness. It is only one shot, that of Stewart's face, but it is the crux of the picture, and Stewart once again, as he has a hundred times, shows what it means to understand acting and to make it meaningful." The subject of Hereford cattle had previously been treated in at least two other Westerns: The Untamed Breed (1948) and The Longhorn (1951). Producer: William Alland Director: Andrew V. McLaglen Screenplay: Ric Hardman Cinematography: William H. Clothier Film Editing: Russell F. Schoengarth Art Direction: Alexander Golitzen, Alfred Ybarra Music: John Williams Cast: James Stewart (Sam Burnett), Maureen O'Hara (Martha Evans), Brian Keith (Alexander Bowen), Juliet Mills (Hilary Price), Jack Elam (Deke Simons), Don Galloway (Jamie Bowen). C-97m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning. by Jeremy Arnold

Quotes

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Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1966

Released in United States on Video January 31, 1995

Released in United States 1966

Released in United States on Video January 31, 1995