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Nevada Smith (1966)

 -  Western  -  10 June 1966 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.9/10 from 4,527 users  
Reviews: 57 user | 11 critic

A naive half-Indian, half-white man evolves into a hardened killer as he tracks down his parents' murderers.



(novel), (story), 1 more credit »
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Title: Nevada Smith (1966)

Nevada Smith (1966) on IMDb 6.9/10

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Tom Fitch
Bill Bowdre
Father Zaccardi
Howard Da Silva ...
Jesse Coe
Sheriff Bonnell
Gene Evans ...
Sam Sand
Josephine Hutchinson ...
Mrs. Elvira McCanles
Uncle Ben McCanles
Buck Mason


Nevada Smith is the young son of an Indian mother and white father. When his father and mother are killed by three men over gold, Nevada sets out to find them and kill them. The boy is taken in by a gun merchant. The gun merchant shows him how to shoot, to shoot on time, and to shoot straight. Everything that Nevada does goes to killing those three men. He learns to read and write just to learn their location. He pays people to tell him where they're at. He even goes to prison to kill one of them. While the movie is a Western and has plenty of action, it also takes a deep look into vengeance and how one can change after a haunting incident. Written by Chase Ard <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Now a name...soon a legend. See more »




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Parents Guide:





Release Date:

10 June 1966 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Kostaja Nevada Smith  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (original length)

Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


Suzanne Pleshette once said in an interview that her love scenes with Steve McQueen in this movie were horribly awkward for both of them as they had enjoyed a completely platonic friendship since she first came to Hollywood and he had very much taken on the role of big brother to her. See more »


When Martin Landau swings the chair at Steve McQueen as he enters the saloon bedroom, you can plainly see that a piece of plexiglas is in the door frame to protect McQueen. See more »


Jonas Cord: [Max misses a plate Cord throws in the air] Go on home, boy. Take the shortcut.
Nevada Smith: The sun was in my eyes and I wasn't expecting it!
Jonas Cord: Do you expect a man's gonna hold still for you with the sun at your back, and give you warning so you can stand there and shoot at him?
Nevada Smith: I can hit a rabbit at 80 yards with a rifle.
Jonas Cord: A rabbit don't shoot back. And how you think you're gonna swing a rifle in a barroom.
Nevada Smith: I never been *in* a barroom!
Jonas Cord: Look, just to find them, you're gonna have to comb out every saloon, ...
See more »


Spun-off from The Carpetbaggers (1964) See more »


Careless Love
Written by Tradidional
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User Reviews

Revenge...A Dish Served Too Cold
19 June 2009 | by (Greenwich, CT United States) – See all my reviews

Two things stand out in a positive way in this rather grim, overblown revenge western: Cinematographer Lucien Ballard and Brian Keith in a winning, low-key supporting role. Otherwise it's one of those films that leaves you thinking about what might have been.

Steve McQueen stars as Max Sand, teenaged son of a white man and a Kiowa woman who sets out to revenge his parents' murders at the hands of three bad men in search of gold. The killers prove hard to find. On his search for revenge, Max meets up with an assortment of people that testify to the broader possibilities of life, but he can't shake the determination to inflict vengeance - whoever suffers.

It's a good concept for a story, maybe not a new one in 1966, but still worthy of in-depth treatment. But McQueen is all wrong for the main part, too old and unbelievable as a half-breed, and much of the action that takes place is highly contrived. Director Henry Hathaway and writer John Michael Hayes, working from a concept developed around a character featured in the novel and later film "The Carpetbaggers", toy with the question about whether Max's quest to settle scores is a bad thing in itself, but never develop it.

"You're a dirty low animal!" Max is told at one point by a woman who he misled in order to confront one of his parents' killers. But even when he lets innocent people die so he can make a beeline for the worst of the bad guys, Tom Fitch (Karl Malden), the film doesn't bother to suggest Max as anything other than a noble avenger. Perhaps McQueen didn't want to play a Western anti-hero. Too bad he didn't wait a few months - Clint Eastwood would have shown him how it's done.

There are a lot of problems with "Nevada Smith", but the big one I suspect - with no secondary info to back me up - was that it was conceived and largely shot as a roadshow western, then got scaled down as the producers realized they didn't have "Lawrence of Nevada" on their hands. Weird go-nowhere scenes chew time, like Max buying a can of peaches and having an inane conversation with a chuckling storekeeper, but you also get abrupt story shifts. One second Max is sitting helpless in a Louisiana swamp; the next he's leaning on a corral fence hundreds of miles away.

The film is constructed in three parts, one for each killer, but there's no reason any of them should run longer than 20 minutes. Instead, the whole film runs over two hours.

As a McQueen fan, it's distressing seeing him pressing so hard, overemoting when he confronts one of the other killers, played by Martin Landau: "Jesse Coward! Jesse Murderer! Jesse Woman Killer!" McQueen didn't scream well on camera. He also hooks up with two different women, Janet Margolin as a Kiowa maiden and Suzanne Pleshette as a Cajun laborer, neither of whom are remotely believable in underwritten roles and seem sops to McQueen's growing female fanbase.

At least there's some good moments amid the chaff, like a sequence where McQueen beats the stuffing out of a cowhand to win an amused Fitch's respect. Lucien Ballard's full-screen compositions show why he was the lensman for so many classic 1960s westerns, including Hathaway's later "True Grit". And Brian Keith as Jonas Cord, a gun dealer who befriends Sand, steals every scene he's in with gentle digs and sighs that reminds one of how terrifically Hathaway used John Wayne in "Grit": "You don't drink? Where you're going' you better study up!"

But when Keith's not on screen, "Nevada Smith" is no fun to sit through. It's an odd western, overbaked but underdeveloped, lacking the courage of whatever passes for its convictions. "You're yella! Ya haven't got the guts!" is the last line we hear before the credits roll...sadly appropriate.

17 of 26 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Loni Anderson in Nevada Smith rac701
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