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Nevada Smith (1966)

Steve McQueen , Karl Malden , Henry Hathaway  |  PG-13 |  DVD
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (180 customer reviews)

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Nevada Smith Nevada Smith 4.3 out of 5 stars (180)
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Product Details

  • Actors: Steve McQueen, Karl Malden, Brian Keith, Arthur Kennedy, Suzanne Pleshette
  • Directors: Henry Hathaway
  • Writers: Harold Robbins, John Michael Hayes
  • Producers: Steve McQueen, Henry Hathaway, Joseph E. Levine
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Paramount
  • DVD Release Date: April 22, 2003
  • Run Time: 128 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (180 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00008CMR3
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #146,885 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Nevada Smith" on IMDb

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Henry Hathaway's film is based on a character from Harold Robbins' The Carpetbaggers, who, in turn, based it on cowboy actor Ken Maynard. Set in the West of the 1890s, the film opens with the torture and murder of the parents of Max Sand (Steve McQueen) by a trio of gunslingers seemingly motivated by their hostility toward the mixed nature of the marriage, since the wife is a Native American. Swearing revenge, the young cowhand enlists the help of itinerant gunsmith Jonas Cord Brian Keith, who teaches him how to shoot while counseling against revenge. Nonetheless, Sand doggedly scours one town after the other before finally running up against one of the murderers, Jesse Coe (Martin Landau). He finally kills Coe in a vicious knife fight, but is severely wounded himself and has to be nursed back to health by Neesa (Janet Margolin), a young Kiowa woman. He next heads for Louisiana where another of the murderous trio, Bill Bowdre (Arthur Kennedy), is serving a prison sentence in a remote swamp. In order to get close to the man, Sand stages a robbery, and is soon among the prison inmates. This was the only film on which McQueen worked with Landau, the only other person admitted to the Actor's Studio out of thousands of applicants in 1957.

The Max Sand backstory in Harold Robbins's trashy The Carpetbaggers (an enjoyable wallow onscreen in 1964) made for a solid Western vehicle for Steve McQueen at his peak. Nevada Smith is a revenge movie, but closer in spirit to The Bravados than a Death Wish-style exercise in nihilism. Young Max, offspring of a white father and Indian mother, sets out to avenge their slaughter by three villains. His odyssey includes spiritual re-parenting at several stages, most notably by canny gun dealer Jonas Cord (a swell character part for Brian Keith). The supporting cast will have you saying, "He's in it, too!" at regular intervals (from costars Karl Malden and Arthur Kennedy down to such incidental interlopers as L.Q. Jones and Strother Martin). Since director Henry Hathaway and cameraman Lucien Ballard couldn't frame a bad shot if their lives depended on it, it's a relief that this movie is finally available in a widescreen format. --Richard T. Jameson

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
100 of 104 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't forget the way back July 10, 2004
If you're ever curious why people made such a fuss about Steve McQueen check out NEVADA SMITH, Henry Hathaway's sprawling tale of vengeance and obsession.
McQueen plays young half-Indian/half-white Max Sand, whose parents are murdered by a trio of bandits (Martin Landau, Arthur Kennedy, Karl Malden.) McQueen was 36 years old in 1966, the year NEVADA SMITH was made, and was probably a decade past the time when he could effortlessly portray a naïve young hero. There's a brief, disturbingly violent scene at the beginning of the movie where the three villains are torturing Smith's parents, and the woman portraying McQueen's Kiowa mother doesn't look much older than 35. Still, McQueen brings a wide-eyed innocence to his performance that tremendously helps us suspend disbelief. Besides, I believe I counted exactly zero close-ups in this action western. If you want to check out the crow's feet around McQueen's eyes you'll have to look hard and fast to see them.
McQueen gets a chance to play against some Hollywood professionals at the top of their games. Brian Keith is growlingly good as traveling gunsmith Jonas Cord, who plays Polonius to McQueen's Laertes, and plies the young stranger with instruction and advice. Max Sand won't be argued out of his mission to avenge the death of his parents, and the pragmatic Cord reluctantly agrees to be his mentor. It's through Cord and, later, a priest Sand comes across, that the movie is allowed to question its central theme - vengeance. Cord argues the practical ("You'll turn into one of the rats you're hunting,") the priest the spiritual. It's a tribute to the brilliance of McQueen's performance that by the time we reach the last scene we can see how both arguments have contributed to his maturation.
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41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars McQueen In A Cowboy Hat July 29, 2005
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This was a film that never made it on to my radar although I am a fan of westerns and Steve McQueen. Last month, I watched a special on TMC about McQueen and they had a clip from "Nevada Smith", it looked interesting, so I ordered one from Amazon.The verdict? It is a terrific little film. Henry Hathaway, a skilled director with a long list of impressive credits, did a terrific job telling this Harold Robbins story and McQueen is great. Loads of wonderful character actors and georgeous scenery, artfully recorded adds up to a fun experience. I am glad I have it in on my shelf.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent western, McQueen is superb. June 22, 1999
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
Steve McQueen plays Max Sand ( Nevada Smith ) who sets about finding his parents three killers played by karl Malden , Martin Landau, and Arthur Kenndy. But finding them and killing them is a bit harder then he thought. While on his trail he meet's Brian Keith who teaches him to be an expert marksman.Nevada Smith is a tense violent western which follows Nevada every step on his revenge crazed journey. McQueen is excellent , in this classic western.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Classic McQueen western April 1, 2000
Format:VHS Tape
This movie is one of Steve McQueens finest.Though one might take umbrage at McQueen playing a half white half Indian - he looks pretty white - McQueen gives an excellent performance. You see him evolve from a young hotheaded kid into a bitter and hardened killer. He becomes like the men he's hunting down in other words. this movie was made at the beginning of the "new" Hollywood Western. It's grittier then much of the dreck that was churned out during the fifties and it makes an effort to portray some technical accuracy as well. But it is still a transistional piece so the towns are clean, the clothes are tailored and the saloons are elaborate. But for the time it was made the movie stands head and shoulders above most westerns. In just a few short years Eastwood's Spaghetti Westerns and Sam Peckinpah would chance the face of the western forever so this movie has to be placed in the earlier category and in that case it's excellent.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mcqueen's Best Western Film October 31, 2000
Format:VHS Tape
Steve Mcqueen is excellent in this well done western revenge thriller Nevada Smith, a young half breed man seeks revenge agaisnt a lethal gang who murdered his parents. Along the way Smith learns proper gun handeling technicqes and as he draws closer to his prey he relazies that revenge isn't all what it seems. Very well played story about revenge and the conseqeunces that goes along with it and the lonliness that transpires from being consumed from the hate. A Western that also looks at the rights of indians not often seen in Westerns. Steve Mcqueen pulled off a very belivable, and powerful performence.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why McQueen Was A Star June 26, 2006
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Nevada Smith was made at the heights of McQueen's short, but terrific career. This film, along with Love With The Proper Stranger, The Thomas Crown Affair, The Cincinnati Kid and Bullitt, proves just why McQueen was a star.

Although the film is your average revenge-story, McQueen's performance along with Karl Malden, Martin Landau, Brian Keith and Susanne Pleshette, make it worth watching. McQueen stars as a young man (the script mentions that he's a boy and half-Indian, but so what?)who witnesess his parents' murder at the hands of Karl Malden's blood-thirsty gang. From there he goes on a year's long quest to hunt down each and every one of the killers, until his parents' death is avenged. He even goes so far as to land himself in a Louisianan chain gang to get one of them. What makes this movie stand out from other films in this genre, is McQueen's maturation during this process. He goes from young boy, to seasoned, cool killer by the time he reaches Karl Malden. McQueen, known for extensively underplaying a scene, gives away all kinds of subtlelties that most people missed (indeed this is why some in Hollywood didn't consider him a good actor), but that upon closer inspection one would see that he's "in character" every step of the way. The scene when he's in the swamp with one of his parents' killers and Susann Pleshette is chilling, because you see all of his rage at finally finding this man and exacting his revenge. What is more poignant is when he, at long last, has Karl Malden, and instead of killing him, leaves him there to die. You see in McQueen's eyes all of the pain, and sorrow, at his parents' loss, but you also see the pity that he has for this weak, pathetic man who is nothing without a gun on his belt. McQueen simply looks at the man, shrugs and walks away. In the hands of another actor this scene would've been overplayed to the point of melodrama, but McQueen said everything that needed to be said in a few simple gestures. That's what makes a star.
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