With the exception of The Flight of the Phoenix, James Stewart didn't get a lot of worthy roles in the 1960s. He was in his mid-fifties when the decade began, so instead of his typical romantic leads and loner heroes, he played a lot of patriarchs in lukewarm fare like Dear Brigitte, Shenandoah, and Take Her, She's Mine (I admit having a soft spot for Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation). Stewart also continued to appear frequently in Westerns, where his now-graying hair only added to his tough exterior. One of his better horse operas of the period was The Rare Breed, a modest effort bolstered by a strong cast and an offbeat premise.
|Yes, that's Brian Keith!|
The three veteran leads are solid, with Keith having a grand time with his Scottish brogue. Yet, Juliet Mills (Nanny and the Professor) comes off best as a young woman with true grit. (It's fun to see O'Hara, Keith, and Mills together, since the first two starred with Juliet's sister, Hayley, in The Parent Trap.)
From a production standpoint, the film's scenic landscapes are undermined by poor-looking rear screen shots and stunt doubles that barely resemble the stars.
That night, Steve, who is staying at the inn, inadvertently calls forth Blackbeard's ghost when he recites a spell from a witch's book. Blackbeard (Ustinov) explains that he's been caught in "limbo," destined never to join his ghostly crew until--as Steve later discovers--the pirate performs a good deed. This will obviously be a challenge for the whiny, surprisingly sensitive, rum-drinking buccaneer.
|Peter Ustinov and Dean Jones.|