Review: ‘Nevada Smith’

A good story idea - boy avenging his murdered parents and maturing in the process - is stifled by uneven acting, often lethargic direction, and awkward sensation-shock values. Overlength serves to dull the often spectacular production values.

A good story idea – boy avenging his murdered parents and maturing in the process – is stifled by uneven acting, often lethargic direction, and awkward sensation-shock values. Overlength serves to dull the often spectacular production values.

John Michael Hayes scripted in routine fashion a story and screenplay based on a character from Harold Robbins’ The Carpetbaggers. Hayes’ yarn is not a sequel, but a precedessor work, in that it is centered on the Nevada Smith character who acted as guardian to Jonas Cord Jr, the youthful antihero of Carpetbaggers.

Steve McQueen is the young half-Indian boy whose parents are brutally murdered by Karl Malden, Arthur Kennedy and Martin Landau. Vowing revenge, McQueen sets off to kill them all. Brian Keith plays the elder Jonas Cord, then an itinerant gunsmith, who befriends the greenhorn and teaches him armed self-defense.

Henry Hathaway’s uneven direction alternates jarring, overbearing fisticuffs with exterior footage as spectacular in some cases as it is dull in others.

Nevada Smith

Production

Paramount/Embassy/Solar. Director Henry Hathaway; Producer Henry Hathaway; Screenplay John Michael Hayes; Camera Lucien Ballard; Editor Frank Bracht; Music Alfred Newman; Art Director Hal Pereira, Tambi Larsen, Al Roelofs

Crew

(Color) Widescreen. Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1966. Running time: 131 MIN.

With

Steve McQueen Karl Malden Brian Keith Arthur Kennedy Suzanne Pleshette Raf Vallone
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