Nevada Smith is a rugged innocent boy born in the 1890's during California's gold rush days to a Native American mother and white father. When he finds his parents have been murdered by vicious killers, he sets out to track them down. While the film is a Western, and has plenty of action, it is also a powerful and revealing study of the regeneration of a man, in this case a lone gunslinger who is so blinded by his compulsion that it obscures any other motive for living. Steve McQueen's dynamic presence as Nevada Smith is memorable.
Excellent photography but a poor vehicle for a too-old McQueen. Very average stuff.
- Nevada Smith review by RP
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You rated this film: 3
Hmmm.... I've been catching up on a few Westerns recently and thought I'd try this one. Directed by the lately neglected Henry Hathaway who made 'Niagara' with Marilyn Monroe, but seemed to specialise in Westerns, including several John Wayne films and went on to make the original version of 'True Grit'.
It's based on a mini-story within Harold Robbin's over-long potboiler of a novel 'The Carpetbaggers' and tells the story of Max Sands (aka Nevada Smith) who seeks revenge on the three men who tortured and murdered his parents. Three men, three distinct episodes of revenge, essentially three mini-stories within the film. And of course, he succeeds and then rides off into the sunset (well, almost).
The film stars Steve McQueen, then approaching the height of his fame ('Bullitt' was made 2 years later) and regarded as the king of cool, together with a number of other well known 1960s actors. But unfortunately Steve McQueen is a problem - he appears in virtually every frame, and the film appears to be conceived as a personal vehicle for him. And perhaps because of this it is very average - it really could have been so much better.
The film only works at all because of his boyish good looks - but the story spans many years and McQueen is clearly just too old to be referred to at the beginning as 'kid' and 'boy'. The film was made when he was 36 and certainly no 'boy', although a man in his 30s is probably appropriate for the final scenes. Also the story has been sanitised - if I remember from reading the book many years ago, part of the horror is that the last baddie's tobacco pouch is made from Nevada Smith's mother's breast.
The photography is excellent but the storyline and dialogue are weak, so I'll give it 3/5 stars - and that's stretching it a bit. Not one of Mr McQueen's best :(