[box cover]

Nevada Smith

After unintentionally giving three killers (Karl Malden, Arthur Kennedy, and Martin Landau) directions to his family's home, Max Sand (Steve McQueen) swears vengeance on them for killing his father and Indian mother. But he's only a kid and doesn't know much about guns or killing; it's lucky he runs into Jonas Cord (Brian Keith), who teaches him marksmanship. Still, it's an arduous trek to find the killers, and each one is more than a little dangerous. Max's quest for vengeance causes him hardship, and eventually he becomes a wanted man himself, which forces him to change his name to Nevada Smith. A prequel to the popular Harold Robbins novel The Carpetbaggers, 1966's Nevada Smith tells a fairly straightforward tale of a young man entering adulthood through the rites of revenge and realizing the cost of such a pursuit — something hammered home in a scene where he meets a priest (Raf Vallone). And at 130 minutes, it's a bit long in the tooth for such a simple tale. Such is likely the fault of director Henry Hathaway; he never was much of a director, and some critics think him little more than a studio hack. Playing a teenager at 36 (eight years after pulling the same stunt in The Blob), McQueen exudes the sultry on-screen presence that made him a star, and he is both iconic and fun to watch. But Nevada Smith also points out that McQueen rarely was attached to great movies, and this is another in a line of moderate films that didn't require the amount of talent he had available. The picture is chock-full of interesting supporting players, and all get their chance to chew the scenery; along with those previously mentioned, the cast includes Howard Da Silva, Pat Hingle, Janet Margolin, Suzanne Pleshette, and Gene Evans, all of whom add something to their small roles. Paramount's DVD edition of Nevada Smith presents the film in anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1) with monaural Dolby Digital 2.0 audio (in both English and French). No extras, keep-case.
—DSH



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