A Remake Chronicles Extra by Adam-Troy Castro
Last night’s jaw-dropping old movie: THE RARE BREED (1966), Jimmy Stewart western also starring Maureen O’Hara, Brian Keith, Jack Elam and Juliet Mills, which is all about the deep, abiding love a whole lot of people have for a bull.
Not a herd of cattle, mind you. A bull.
I am not kidding.
It’s a Hereford O’Hara and daughter have brought over from England, which gets a lot of scorn from all the… traditional western types who are certain that the only proper cow is a Texas longhorn; they sell the bull, named Vindicator, to Keith’s mighty scotchman of a rancher, then insist on traveling along with Stewart so they can teach the new owner how to care for it.
People are willing to rob, kill, hire thugs, and ride hundreds of miles through dangerous country, to obtain this bull which has been trained to come whenever anybody whistles “God Save The Queen.”
I am still not kidding.
This makes little sense, as many of the same people ALSO go on at considerable length about how the animal cannot possibly survive harsh Texas winters.
But they are certainly willing to twist their lives out of shape to get the damn thing.
Juliet Mills, who raised the bull from a calf, actually says to it, “Vindicator, you’ve got to stand on your own four feet. I mean it! You’re a British bull with uncommon good sense and fine ancestors. We’ve had some fine times together. Now you’ve got to prove yourself and prove that Father was right. Go on.”
I am still not kidding.
In any event, the initially dubious Jimmy Stewart character comes around to the premise that this bull is really something special, not just genetically but to hear him say it morally, and nearly kills himself riding out into subzero blizzards to save it from the elements; all to naught, as it doesn’t survive the winter, but that’s okay — there are now a whole bunch of hybrid calves in rancher Brian Keith’s herd, so it looks like Vindicator got up to some fucking before the cold put him down.
At the end, Brian Keith and Maureen O’Hara are about to set a date for the wedding when Stewart shows up with one of the calves, inducing her to ditch the rich guy who is clearly out of his mind with love for her, and go off instead with the penniless Stewart.
The last shot is a triumphant closeup of one of the calves, looking stupidly at the camera in a visual clearly meant to stir our hearts to bursting.
This was not, to put it mildly, one of James Stewart’s great westerns. The odd thing is that it’s pretty damn entertaining anyway. I really — sniff — worried about that cow.