(director: Andrew V. McLaglen; screenwriter: Ric Hardman; cinematographer: William H. Clothier; editor: Russell F. Schoengarth; music: Johnny Williams; cast: James Stewart (Sam Burnett), Maureen O’Hara (Martha Price), Brian Keith (Alexander Bowen), Juliet Mills (Hilary Price), Don Galloway (Jamie Bowen), David Brian (Charles Ellsworth), Ben Johnson (Jeff Harter), Harry Carey Jr. (Ed Mabry), Jack Elam (Deke Simons), Allan Caillou (John Taylor); Runtime: 97; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: William Alland; Universal Pictures; 1966)

“Banal and lifeless.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Hack director Andrew V. McLaglen (“The Undefeated”/”Something Big”) helms this boring oater, managing to keep it banal and lifeless. It’s more a character study than an actioner; the trouble being the characters are not interesting and the story line is easily forgettable. McLaglen is Victor’s son, and directed some John Wayne reactionary westerns (both evidently sharing the same philosophy). The Rare Breed was as enjoyable as watching cows graze. The title refers to a Hereford bull and it tells the real-life saga about the introduction of the hornless Hereford among the longhorn Texas cattle. It’s all about the cross-breeding of the Hereford over the Texas range.

Maureen O’Hara plays the widow Martha Price, who leaves England to sell a prize bull to Texas cattle breeders at an auction. Juliet Mills is her pretty daughter Hilary. James Stewart is Sam Burnett, a drifter cowhand hired to deliver the bull and someone who takes his job mighty serious (Stewart seems to be only going through the motions). Brian Keith plays Alexander Bowen, the grumpy Scotsman cattle baron who runs his Texas ranch like a feudal manor but is the one Martha convinces to use her new cattle breed.

To spice up the simple tale, writer Ric Hardman adds some complications to the delivery of the Hereford, named Vindicator, such as a bribe, fights and a stampede. Sam at first had his doubts, but is now convinced that the Hereford would breed well with the longhorns. But now old man Bowen has his doubts. During the winter the bull dies, but its calf lives thanks to Sam. When Hilary and Bowen’s son Jamie (Don Galloway) fall in love, Hilary talks the bashful Sam into getting it on with Martha. It concludes with Sam and Martha starting their own cattle ranch. Also starring was Jack Elam as a swindler and Allan Caillou as the one who bribed the Stewart character during the shipment.

REVIEWED ON 11/13/2006 GRADE: C-