Nevada Smith (1966)
Steve McQueen, Karl Malden
Smith is a rugged innocent boy
born in thei1890s
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. He
becomes a lone gunslinger who is so
blinded by his compulsion that it
obscures any other motive for
Steve McQueen stars in Nevada Smith playing one of his most
challenging characters. He is Max Sand, a boy without an
education but a knack for revenge. It is safe to say McQueen
owns this film. Whether heís believable playing a boy or not, he
takes the character to great lengths and creates the right kind
of sympathy the audience can acknowledge and appreciate. Going
back to believability for a bit, Max canít be older than
eighteen to be considered a boy. McQueen was 36 at the
time the film was released, so why was he cast to play Max? Iím
not sure who thought he could pass for Max without raising other
peoplesí eyebrows. This is only a small concern and doesnít
affect the flow or purpose of the film.
As for the
character, Max is on a journey to find the killers and take
revenge by killing them. While this premise is as small and
one-sided as it sounds, screenwriter John Michael Hayes
constructs some subplots and exciting action in between to add
some drama and sincerity to the story. His journey is exciting
to follow right up until the very last scene, but then the film
just ends. This makes sense, but isnít satisfactory. Questions
remain, such as where is Max going now? How is he going to
continue his life? Any indication or answers to those and other
questions would have created a better ending.
contribution of supporting players Karl Malden, Arthur Kennedy,
Brian Keith, Suzanne Pleshette, and Martin Landau provide
much-needed backup for McQueen even though each of their screen
time is limited. Malden is especially fun to watch as the main
bad guy. Landau is in the film for only ten minutes or so, but
his cameo, if you want to call it that, is a pleasure to watch.
Director Henry Hathaway takes the screenplay to great lengths.
His sense of direction, mood, and action create a great
environment for the western genre Nevada Smith is playing
to. Hathaway and crew supply the film with many great visuals
and locations. The film spans well over several states and
warrants many different locations and sets. Each location is
constructed very well, whether is be either by man or nature. To
sum up the film, Nevada Smith is simple, yet constructed
and executed beautifully.
8 out of 10
first time on DVD, Nevada Smith looks really good.
Paramount presents this film in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen.
Compared to the VHS presentation, which really looks its age,
the DVD presentation holds a really nice upgrade. Gone are most
of the grainy images, dark tones, lack of color detail, and the
meek black level. I wonít say the transfer is anywhere near
excellent, but it is very much impressive. Paramount and Co.
improved on the many grainy images and lines of the print. Even
though the presentation still carries noticeable grain and such,
the overall transfer is still impressive. The color palette is
used very effectively with a nice variety of color detail, but I
noticed some forms of edge enhancement along the way. Overall,
Nevada Smith deserves praise and the improvement from the
crappy VHS presentation is a job very well done.
out of 10
is presented in Dolby Digital English and French Mono
soundtracks. Front speakers get all the attention while the rear
speakers are mostly ignored. The film relies on its audio
presentation in many occasions and sadly there isnít much
quality to support it. Dialogue is very clear and Alfred
Newmanís score comes across very nicely. Despite the lack of
actual surround sound, Nevada Smith offers a mediocre
presentation thatís not as bad as it might seem.
7 out of 10
Donít look for
anything in this section. The inclusion of English subtitles is
a mandatory standard now, but thanks for them anyway, Paramount.
Other than that, this area is as blank as a blank check.
out of 10
is a western with all of the necessary ingredients for very good
entertainment. With the help of Steve McQueen and a strong
supporting cast, the film plays to near to perfection, supplied
also by a strong script and direction by Henry Hathaway. The DVD
includes a neat update of the print, but lacks special features.
All things considered, Nevada Smith makes the western
genre look damn good.
Overall DVD Rating: 6 out of 10
(not an average)
DVD REVIEWS BY DENNIS LANDMANN:
- Citizen Ruth
Crime Scene Investigation - Season 1
Easy Come, Easy Go
The Four Feathers
Fun in Acapulco
Girls, Girls, Girls
Gunfight at the O.K. Corral
Jackass: The Movie
The Legend of Bagger Vance
Martin Lawrence: RunTelDat
Brother, Where Art Thou?
- Paid in Full
Paradise, Hawaiian Style
Lost at Sea
SpongeBob SquarePants: Tales
from the Deep
Star Trek: Deep Space 9 -
Star Trek: Deep Space 9 -
Star Trek IV: The Voyage
Tom Green: Subway Monkey Hour
- Who Framed Roger Rabbit?