HTF REVIEW: "Nevada Smith" (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED) (with screenshots)

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Ronald Epstein, Apr 10, 2003.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    [​IMG]

    Nevada Smith





    Studio: Paramount
    Year: 1966
    Rated: NR
    Film Length: 130 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (2.35:1)
    Subtitles: English




    He Loved... Hated... Killed.


    I am having a great week with some of the upcoming
    classic westerns being released by Paramount Home
    Video. Over the next few weeks you'll be seeing
    titles that include Gunfight at the O.K. Corrall
    and Little Big Man (one of my all-time favorites).
    Thanks to the recommendation of my friend Robert
    Crawford, I asked Paramount to send me a copy of
    Nevada Smith, a film I had never previously
    known about. Once again I find myself in complete
    awe of this newly discovered western that certainly
    ranks up with the best efforts of its star, Steve
    McQueen.

    [​IMG][​IMG]

    Based on Harold Robbins's book The Carpetbaggers,
    this is the story of Max Sand (Steve McQueen), an
    offspring of a white father and Indian mother who
    finds his parents brutally killed by Tom Fitch
    (Karl Malden), Jesse Coe(Martin Landau), and Bill
    Bowdre (Arthur Kennedy). Bent on revenge, Max sets
    out to find these men, though it certainly isn't
    going to be as easy as he initially thinks.

    [​IMG][​IMG]

    Along the way he happens upon Jonas Cord (Brian
    Keith), who becomes a mentor to Max, teaching him
    how to shoot, drink, play cards and most of all, read
    and write. It is these initial teachings that give
    Max the confidence he needs to become an expert marksman.

    [​IMG]&nbsp[​IMG]

    Sand doggedly scours one town after the other in
    search of the killers. How successful will he be?
    I won't ruin the film for you, other to say that
    along the way he gets himself thrown into a
    Louisiana State prison where he finds himself
    at the mercy of the Warden (Howard Da Siva of "1776")
    who warns that escape from the swamp camp will
    be impossible.

    There are several aspects about Nevada Smith
    that made this film a worthy watch. First, just
    the mere fact that this film sports an outstanding
    cast with the likes McQueen, Keith, Landau and
    Malden (and don't miss the cameo of Struther
    Martin
    ) should be reason enough to love this film.
    Next, Lucite Ballad's cinematography is outstanding --
    especially the footage shot around Mammoth, Banner
    Peak, and Mount Ritter in northern California.
    Finally, you can't help but be entertained by an
    all-around great western with great characters and
    an excellent storyline.


    How is the transfer?


    I would rate Nevada Smith only as an average
    to good-looking transfer, but realize I have never
    seen what this film has looked like on any other
    medium. I didn't find this transfer to look at crisp
    as some of the other classic film efforts by Paramount.
    Then again, this isn't the sort of film that would
    make a good candidate for extensive restoration.

    The print seems to have a noticeable share of
    blemish scattered throughout. Some scenes are
    downright littered with white speckling. There
    also seems to be a pronounced amount of film grain
    and/or noise present in the background, particularly
    noticeable in skyline shots. Though colors are
    are reasonably bright and accurate, there are
    seconds to minutes worth of footage that look
    discolored, such as a scene in the beginning of
    the film where Sands crosses the desert. Night
    scenes tend to be a bit too dark, losing surrounding
    detail.

    Once again, I must state that I am being careful
    with my criticisms. I know how films have been
    neglected over the years, and I would give Paramount
    the benefit of doubt by saying this transfer most
    likely looks far better than it probably did when
    taken out of the vault.

    [​IMG]

    The film's original mono soundtrack is adequate.
    Frequency response is not very wide here, with
    everything sounding a bit on the bright side.
    As you turn up the volume towards reference
    listening level you hear a good amount of background
    hiss introduced. Not really anything more than
    I expected.


    Special Features

    [​IMG]

    There is none....nada...zero....zilch!

    I don't understand how Paramount could have at
    least provided a trailer for this film. I try to
    make the point to the studios that collectors look
    at these classic DVD titles as historical value.
    A title like this should at least be comprised of
    the original promotional materials of its day.


    Final Thoughts

    [​IMG]

    For some of you, Nevada Smith may be the
    Steve McQueen film you know most little about.
    This is truly a great "classic" western that ranks
    right up there with other McQueen greats like The
    Great Escape, The Magnificent Seven
    and Papillon.

    Nevada Smith gets my Highly Recommended
    status based on the film alone. With a mostly
    acceptable transfer, it's a shame that Paramount
    made this release as bare-boned as they could.


    Release Date: April 22, 2003


    All screen captures have been further compressed.
    They are for illustrative purposes only and do not
    represent actual picture quality
     
  2. Randy Korstick

    Randy Korstick Producer

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    Great Review Ron
    This is one of my favorite westerns. Can't wait to finally see it in Widescreen.
     
  3. Gordon McMurphy

    Gordon McMurphy Producer

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    This is one of only a few McQueen films I have never seen. It sounds pretty good. I might give it whirl.

    Ron, will you be reviewing LITTLE BIG MAN next week? Awesome, outrageously entertaining film. I hope that the transfer blows my mind! 5.1 also, isn't it?

    Cheers! [​IMG]


    Gordy
     
  4. Richard Gilmore

    Richard Gilmore Stunt Coordinator

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    Also one of my all time favorites. I have only seen it on television years ago. I have never seen it in OAR. I just watched part of Bullitt on the action channel and had forgotten just how much of a McQueen fan I was. I will put this on my buy list.

    I do wish they had some, any supplementary material for this one. Supplements are actually more important to me on the older stuff as it is harder to find information on the older films.
     
  5. Douglas R

    Douglas R Cinematographer

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    Great film and worth seeing for Howard da Silva alone! What a great character actor. Remember him as Nat the bartender in The Lost Weekend along with so many other films over a 50 year career? Great shame that he didn't work for 10 years after 1951, being a victim of McCarthyism.
     
  6. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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  7. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    UPDATE


    I have received some further information from
    Martin Blythe of Paramount concerning the original
    quality of this print.

    Apparently, the print was in awful condition when
    it was pulled from the vault. There was quite an
    extensive amount of work done on the film before
    its DVD release.

    With this in mind, I think that the transfer takes
    on an entirely new meaning for me. Though I stand
    by my original review, I am give a lot more credit
    to the restorationists over at Paramount.
     
  8. Henry Gale

    Henry Gale Producer

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    This film was released the year I turned 20 and the idea of an Adult Western was still fairly new. An attractive 29 year old Suzanne Pleshette, 6 years before the Bob Newhart Show, Strother Martin playing "Strother", and a very smarmy Martin Landeau.
    Many key points in this revenge movie are burned into memory, can't wait to see it again.

    Jim
     
  9. Greg Krewet

    Greg Krewet Stunt Coordinator

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    Ron

    You might be interested in the fact that Nevada Smith
    is kind of a prequel/companion feature to the film of
    The Carpetbaggers. The Jonas Cord(Brian Keith)character is one of the central characters in the Carpetbaggers which serves as an unauthorized very loose biography of Howard Hughes.
    In the Carpetbaggers, he is portrayed by Alan Ladd. I believe The Carpetbaggers is released the same day as
    Nevada Smith and hopefully you might consider reviewing
    it.
    Best
    Greg
     
  10. Garrett Adams

    Garrett Adams Supporting Actor

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    A must buy for me. Ron, I'd add Bullit to the list of great McQueen films.
     
  11. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    For clarification purposes, the film "The Carpetbaggers" was released two years before "Nevada Smith" in 1964. Also, the character Jonas Cord was played by Brian Keith in "Nevada Smith" while in "The Carpetbaggers" the actor playing Jonas Cord Sr. was Leif Erickson. Furthermore, "The Carpetbaggers" is a story loosely based on Howard Hughes with Jonas Cord Jr. being the character based on Hughes with George Peppard in that role. In "The Carpetbaggers" Alan Ladd plays an older Max Sand/Nevada Smith who was a friend of Cord Sr. In "The Carpetbaggers" Nevada Smith was a mentor to Cord Jr. and helped raise him similar to Cord/Keith relationship to a young Smith/McQueen in "Nevada Smith". Both films are very interesting in how the main male characters are portrayed in each respective film.






    Crawdaddy
     
  12. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Garrett,

    Haven't seen Bullitt.

    I take it that the film is worth a watch?
     
  13. Dave Simpson

    Dave Simpson Second Unit

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    quote:

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    You might be interested in the fact that Nevada Smith
    is kind of a prequel/companion feature to the film of
    The Carpetbaggers. The Jonas Cord(Brian Keith)character is one of the central characters in the Carpetbaggers which serves as an unauthorized very loose biography of Howard Hughes.
    In the Carpetbaggers, he is portrayed by Alan Ladd. I believe The Carpetbaggers is released the same day as
    Nevada Smith and hopefully you might consider reviewing
    it.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    For clarification purposes, the film "The Carpetbaggers" was released two years before "Nevada Smith" in 1964. Also, the character Jonas Cord was played by Brian Keith in "Nevada Smith" while in "The Carpetbaggers" the actor playing Jonas Cord Sr. was Leif Erickson. Furthermore, "The Carpetbaggers" is a story loosely based on Howard Hughes with Jonas Cord Jr. being the character based on Hughes with George Peppard in that role. In "The Carpetbaggers" Alan Ladd plays an older Max Sand/Nevada Smith who was a friend of Cord Sr. In "The Carpetbaggers" Nevada Smith was a mentor to Cord Jr. and helped raise him similar to Cord/Keith relationship to a young Smith/McQueen in "Nevada Smith". Both films are very interesting in how the main male characters are portrayed in each respective film.






    Crawdaddy


    Thanks for clearing that up. [​IMG] Cheers.

    DS.
     
  14. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    Ronbo,
    To suggest that you take some time and watch "Bullitt" is an understatement.[​IMG]







    Crawdaddy
     
  15. oscar_merkx

    oscar_merkx Lead Actor

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    another who has not seen this before, so will get this one as well

    [​IMG]
     
  16. Garrett Adams

    Garrett Adams Supporting Actor

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    Ron, the definitive cool SFPD detective is Frank Bullitt, not Eastwood's Harry Callahan (as much as I like him).

    Also Bullitt is the standard that 'car chases' can be compared to. That's including 'The French Connection'.
     
  17. Leon Liew

    Leon Liew Stunt Coordinator

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    While Nevada Smith was an interesting movie it did inspired
    an adaptation by Shaw Bros with the same storyline for a
    swordfighting movie in the 1960s- Bells of Death.

    Watched both back in the 60s and was certainly impressed.
    It's worth another round of viewing though.
     
  18. Marty M

    Marty M Cinematographer

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    I remember seeing this movie in the theaters in 1966. I really enjoyed this movie when I first saw it, but have not seen it shown on cable very much.
     

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