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The Rare Breed is a 1966 American western film starring James Stewart, Maureen O'Hara, Brian Keith, Juliet Mills and Ben Johnson and directed by Andrew V. McLaglen. Loosely based on the life of rancher William Burgess, the film follows Martha Price's (O'Hara) quest to fulfill her deceased husband's dream of introducing Hereford cattle to the Americanmarker West. The film was one of the early major productions to be scored by John Williams, who was billed as "Johnny Williams" in the opening credits.


An expensive prize bull is bought at an auction by Charles Ellsworth (David Brian), who has come to purchase stock for the wealthy Texas rancher Alexander Bowen (Brian Keith). Sam Burnett (James Stewart) is hired to transport the bull to Bowen's ranch. Martha Price (Maureen O'Hara), the original owner of the bull, is told by her daughter Hilary (Juliet Mills) about a conversation she overheard between Burnett and two men who are working for a competing rancher John Taylor (Caillou). Burnett has made a deal with Taylor to kidnap the bull. One of Taylor's men, Deke Simons (Jack Elam), gets into a fight with Burnett in the saloon. Price, witnessing the brawl, dismisses the idea. Burnett, Price and her daughter travel cross country for many miles to transport the bull.

One night while Price and Burnett are brewing coffee over the campfire, a shot knocks over the coffee pot. Burnett knows it was a signal from Taylor's men. Just before dawn, Hilary catches Burnett as he is about to hand over the bull. He denies her accusations, waking her mother to prove he was innocent. Once again, Price gives Burnett the benefit of the doubt, although she is becoming uncertain of his honesty.

The next day, Taylor's men find a fence which has been hacked through to make way for Price's wagon. They conclude that Burnett must have double-crossed them. Deke Simons is determined to catch up with Burnett due to the money at stake. Simons shoots his companion, and rides on after the wagon. While driving through a canyon, Burnett runs into Jamie Bowen (Don Galloway), Alexander's son, who has stolen a herd of his father's longhorn cattle and is running away to start his own ranch. Simons catches up to the parties and shoots a cowhand, setting off a stampede. Jamie tries to escape from the charging cattle, but falls into the path of the stampede.

As the dust clears, Burnett assists Jamie, who is battered and is unconscious. He carries him back to the wagon and finds Simons holding Price and her daughter hostage. Simons demands the money that Burnett was paid by Taylor for the bull. Simons eventually takes all the money Price has, but while distracted, Burnett is able to take his rifle. Simons sees an opportunity to escape, and quickly mounts his horse and gallops away. Burnett follows him, coming to a dead end in the canyon. Burnett confronts Simons and as their horses collide, Simons falls onto a sharp rock and is killed instantly. When Burnett returns with the money, Price berates him for his dishonesty and the trouble he has caused. After a few days of travelling with Bowens' son in tow, they reach his father's ranch.


DVD cover for the film

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