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A follow-up to The Carpetbaggers (1964), Nevada Smith (1966) findsMcQueen in the Alan Ladd role, but traces his background in a mannerthat we'd today call a "prequel." Young Nevada finds his parentsbrutally slain by a gang of thugs (led by Martin Landau), then teams upwith an aging gunfighter (Brian Keith) to learn the skills of gunplayand find the men who murdered his family. A fairly routine story isgiven life by McQueen's flinty screen presence, with Suzanne Pleshettecast improbably as a Cajun farm worker and character actors like PatHingle, Howard Da Silva, Gene Evans and Lyle Bettger rounding things out.
Hathaway was faced with staggering logistical problems, with the movieset amidst 42 locations (in the California mountain ranges of the LongPine, Bishop and Mammoth mountains) and with 68 speaking parts tocontend with. Cinematographer Lucien Ballard used the spectacularscenery to full advantage; Hathaway had used the mountains so many timesbefore that Ballard's camera never catches the same place twice.
Interestingly, McQueen's role is quite similar to his character on thethen-popular TV series Wanted: Dead Or Alive, with the exceptionbeing that bounty hunter Josh Randall stalked men for money while NevadaSmith hunted them for vengeance. Still, it's intriguing to think ofMcQueen's volatile nature running up against Henry Hathaway'sauthoritarian direction in this film.
Producer/Director: Henry Hathaway
Screenplay: John Michael Hayes
Cinematography: Lucien Ballard
Editor: Frank Bracht
Art direction: Hal Pereira, Tambi Larsen, Al Roelofs
Music: Alfred Newman
Cast: Steve McQueen (Nevada Smith/Max Sand), Karl Malden (Tom Fitch), Brian Keith (Jonas Cord), Arthur Kennedy (Bill Bowdre), Suzanne Pleshette (Pilar), Pat Hingle (Big Foot Work Camp Trustee), Raf Vallone (Father Zaccardi), Martin Landau (Jesse Coe), Howard De Silva (Warden of Work Camp), Paul Fix (Sheriff Bonnell), Gene Evans (Sam Sand).
C-131m. Closed captioning.
by Jerry Renshaw