Based on the actual intro of white-faced Hereford cattle from England to the US western ranges, The Rare Breed is a generally successful fictionalized blend of violence, romance, comedy, inspiration and oater Americana.
Ric Hardman’s good – if overly wide-ranging – script takes as a point of departure the phasing out of the longhorn by the ‘rare’ (circa 1884) Hereford stock from England. As the drama unfolds, rugged animal survival problems dissolve into human conflicts.
For almost half of the running time the plot concerns the stubborn determination of widowed Maureen O’Hara and daughter Juliet Mills to deliver a bull for breeding purposes. Opposing factors include James Stewart, intially a drifter who agrees, although reluctantly, to swindle the gals via Alan Caillou’s bribe, with two conspirators, Jack Elam and Harry Carey Jr.
Second half is virtually another pic, with quietly-stubborn O’Hara pitted against Brian Keith in a sort of Anna-and-the-King-of-Siam byplay.