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

Ronald Epstein

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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.



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.



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.

&nbsp

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.



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



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



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
 

Randy Korstick

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

Gordon McMurphy

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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!



Gordy
 

Richard Gilmore

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Messages
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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.
 

Douglas R

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Doug
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.
 

Ronald Epstein

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Ron, will you be reviewing LITTLE BIG MAN next week?
You bet I will.

I'm the guy that pushed for its release! In fact,
I'll take the credit for Paramount putting it on
the release roster


This is my all-time favorite Dustin Hoffman film
and certainly one of my top 25 favorites. An
incredible film!

What has really got me salvating is the fact that
I have not seen Little Big Man in almost 15
years. Can't tell you how much I am looking forward
to watching it again.
 

Ronald Epstein

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Ronald Epstein

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.
 

Henry Gale

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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
 

Greg Krewet

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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
 

Robert Crawford

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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
 

Dave Simpson

Second Unit
Joined
Sep 18, 1999
Messages
445
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.
Cheers.

DS.
 

Garrett Adams

Supporting Actor
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Sep 27, 2000
Messages
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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'.
 

Leon Liew

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Oct 23, 2001
Messages
234
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.
 

Marty M

Effects Supervisor
Senior HTF Member
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Dec 6, 1998
Messages
2,918
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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