Old Movie Teams

Weren’t they also in that other movie?

Maureen O’Hara & James Stewart

Uneasy partners in The Rare Breed

Uneasy partners in The Rare Breed

Although both Maureen O’Hara and James Stewart began acting in movies in the 1930s, it was not until the 1960s that they finally stood together on the big screen, appearing together at this stage of their careers in, alas, only two films: Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation (1962) and The Rare Breed (1966).

For Mr. Hobbs, a comedy, they play husband and wife and parents of a typically dysfunctional modern family (as modern and dysfunctional, that is, as any pre-counterculture era family of the 1960s and ’50s could be). Fabian, among other notables of that perhaps mythical time, appears in a supporting role. In The Rare Breed, we find Mr. Stewart and Ms. O’Hara in the 1880s at first seriously at odds with one another, but increasingly and predictably in alliance, over the introduction of Hereford to the American West, a heretofore untried breed of cattle in that part of the world.

Marital Bliss in Mr. Hobbs Takes A Vacation

Marital Bliss in Mr. Hobbs Takes A Vacation

Ancillary to the team James Stewart and Maureen O’Hara made in these two movies, it is perhaps interesting that John Ford, the director, though not associated in any professional capacity with either movie, was in a rather peripheral way connected. Andrew McLaglen (son of the actor Victor McLaglen who was a regular in many of John Ford’s movies) directed The Rare Breed and, in keeping with this familial John Ford connection, employed some of the same society of actors frequently found in many of John Ford’s films (e.g. Harry Carey, Jr., and Ben Johnson). Neither John Ford nor Andrew McLaglen directed Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation (that was Henry Koster), but the John Ford connection, if only anecdotal and perhaps apocryphal, nonetheless presented itself as an impediment to the teaming of Maureen O’Hara and James Stewart. Both actors had appeared in John Ford movies. And when Ms. O’Hara had heard through the proverbial grapevine that Mr. Stewart had declared that he did not want her as his leading lady because he feared she would “steal” the show, she immediately suspected Mr. Ford had had a hand in spreading that rumor, since Mr. Ford was known for similar pranks when his favorite actors worked in movies of which he was not a part. To confirm her suspicions, Ms. O’Hara called on Mr. Stewart and confronted him with the rumor. James Stewart reacted with surprise, claiming that, on the contrary, he had asked for Maureen O’Hara to play Mrs. Hobbs to his Mr. Hobbs. Four years later, matching his sincerity for teaming up with Ms. O’Hara, Mr. Stewart again asked for her for the role she ultimately played in The Rare Breed (John Ford’s interest in the choice notwithstanding).

2 Comments»

  davedesperado@aol.com wrote @

looking for the movie i saw adverised.it had james stewart/maureen ohara.beautiful country.it looked like he was in the business of cutting trees.his son was played by one of the origials on the old hawaii five o..there was a sscene he was showing his son how to cut a huge pine tree.and it fell on jimmy stewart.maureen ohara was his wife.plese tell me the name of this movie.

  pkingwp wrote @

The movie you are looking for is perhaps the 1963 theatrical release “Spencer’s Mountain.” Henry Fonda plays opposite Ms. O’Hara in this movie. They play the parents of a large family living in rural Wyoming (Snake River Valley near the Tetons). James MacArthur plays the oldest son. Donald Crisp plays the grandfather, the father of the character Mr. Fonda portrays. A falling tree injures Henry Fonda’s character and kills the grandfather (i.e. Donald Crisp’s character). James Stewart, however, does not appear in this movie. Ms. O’Hara and Mr. Fonda appear together in only one other theatrical release from 20 years earlier: “Immortal Sergeant” (1943). You’ll find that the writer, who’s story “Spencer’s Mountain” comes from is Earl Hamner, Jr. Nearly 10 years after the release of “Spencer’s Mountain” these same characters resurfaced in Mr. Hamner’s TV show “The Waltons.”


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