Nevada Smith

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Nevada Smith
Nevada Smith DVD cover.jpg
DVD Cover
Directed by Henry Hathaway
Produced by Henry Hathaway
Joseph E. Levine (executive producer)
Written by John Michael Hayes
Based on The Carpetbaggers
1961 novel 
by Harold Robbins
Starring Steve McQueen
Karl Malden
Brian Keith
Arthur Kennedy
Music by Alfred Newman
Cinematography Lucien Ballard
Edited by Frank Bracht
Embassy Pictures
Solar Productions
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release dates
  • June 10, 1966 (1966-06-10)
Running time
128 minutes
Language English
Box office $6.5 million (est. US/ Canada rentals)[1]

Nevada Smith is a 1966 American Western film directed by Henry Hathaway and starring Steve McQueen. The film was made by Embassy Pictures and Solar Productions, in association with and released by Paramount Pictures. The movie was a prequel to the novel by Harold Robbins, The Carpetbaggers, which had been made into a highly successful film two years earlier, with Alan Ladd playing McQueen's part as an older man. The stories are otherwise unrelated.

The supporting cast of Nevada Smith includes Karl Malden, Brian Keith, Martin Landau, Arthur Kennedy, Suzanne Pleshette, Janet Margolin, Pat Hingle and Paul Fix.


In the West of the 1890s, a trio of outlaws, Bill Bowdre (Arthur Kennedy), Jesse Coe (Martin Landau) and Tom Fitch (Karl Malden), robs, tortures and brutally kills the white father and Indian mother of young Max Sand (Steve McQueen). Max sets out to avenge their deaths. Fitch keeps a tobacco pouch made from the Indian dress of Max's mother, that contains a piece of beaded deerskin from her shirt. Max uses this clue to help him find the men.

Max cannot read or write and is not skilled with a gun. He fails to rob Jonas Cord, Sr. (Brian Keith), a traveling gunsmith. Cord recognizes that Max's revolver is not loaded and is too old and rusty to be useful. Cord takes pity on Max, feeds him and teaches him how to shoot. Max hunts the killers, who have separated. With the help of saloon girl Neesa (Janet Margolin), a woman from the same tribe as his mother, he tracks down Jesse Coe in an Abilene, Texas saloon and kills him in a knife fight. Max is wounded, and Neesa takes him to her tribe's camp, where she cares for his wounds and becomes his lover.

After recovering, Max leaves Neesa to continue his pursuit. He commits a robbery and deliberately gets caught so that he will be sent to the prison where Bowdre is serving time. Pilar (Suzanne Pleshette), a Cajun girl working in the rice fields near the convicts’ camp, gives Max comfort and finds a boat to help him escape through the swamps. Max lets Bowdre join them and executes Bowdre along the way. The boat capsizes and Pilar dies from a snake bite.

Still blinded by revenge, Max pursues Fitch, the last of the murderers. He infiltrates Fitch's gang, calling himself "Nevada Smith". Fitch is aware that Max Sand is out there somewhere, waiting to ambush him. Though he accepts "Nevada" into the gang, Fitch is wary of him. When the gang sets out to commit a robbery, Max is spotted by Cord, who calls him by name. Max ignores him and the gang rides on.

Fitch suspects that one of his men is Max. He vows to kill any man who makes a mistake. As the rest of the gang greedily scoops up the money from the robbery, Max observes them from a hill. Fitch realizes that "Smith" is Sand, grabs his share of the loot and flees. Max pursues him and corners Fitch at a creek. The men exchange fire and Fitch surrenders but Max continues to fire non-fatal shots into Fitch. The outlaw begs to be finished off, but Max decides that Fitch is not worth killing and rides away.



The movie was produced and directed by Henry Hathaway with Joseph E. Levine as executive producer, from a story and screenplay by John Michael Hayes, based on a character from Harold Robbins' 1961 novel The Carpetbaggers. The music score was by Alfred Newman and the cinematography, shot in Eastmancolor and Panavision by Lucien Ballard. The film is a prequel to The Carpetbaggers (1964), in which Alan Ladd played a much older Nevada Smith.

Nevada Smith was shot by Lucien Ballard on approximately 46 different locations in the Inyo National Forest (in parts of southern California and south-western Nevada) and the Owens Valley (of southern California) in the Eastern Sierra mountains.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Big Rental Pictures of 1966". Variety. 4 January 1967. p. 8. 

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