Nevada Smith

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 Harold Robbins novel 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. Nevada Smith depicts Smith's first meeting with another "Carpetbaggers" character, Jonas Cord Sr., but the two films' stories are otherwise unrelated.

Nevada Smith
DVD Cover
Directed byHenry Hathaway
Produced byHenry Hathaway
Joseph E. Levine (executive producer)
Written byJohn Michael Hayes
Based onThe Carpetbaggers
1961 novel
by Harold Robbins
StarringSteve McQueen
Karl Malden
Brian Keith
Arthur Kennedy
Music byAlfred Newman
CinematographyLucien Ballard
Edited byFrank Bracht
Embassy Pictures
Solar Productions
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • June 10, 1966 (1966-06-10)
Running time
128 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$6.5 million (est. US/ Canada rentals)[1]

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, Jesse Coe, and Tom Fitch, robs, tortures and brutally kills the white father and Indian mother of young Max Sand. The outlaws have stolen the father's grey horse with a double SS brand. Max sets out to avenge their deaths and uses this clue to trail the men.

During his travels in the desert, Max uncovers an old and rusty gun. When he comes upon Jonas Cord, Sr, a traveling gunsmith, he tries to rob him. Cord, recognizing that Max's revolver is not loaded and is useless, convinces Max that his plan has failed. Max tells Cord of his vengeful journey. Cord takes pity on him, takes him in, feeds him and teaches him how to shoot. Max hunts the killers, who have separated. He tracks down Jesse Coe to Abilene, Texas. With the help of dancehall girl Neesa, a woman from the same tribe as his mother, he confronts him in a salon. Coe escapes and a knife fight ensues in a nearby corral. Coe is killed but Max is severely wounded. Neesa takes him to her tribe's camp, where she nurses him back to health. They become lovers.

Once he recovers, Max leaves Neesa to continue his pursuit. He reads that Bowdre is in a prison camp in Louisiana for a failed bank robbery. He commits a bank robbery, deliberately gets caught, and is sent to the same prison where Bowdre is serving time. Bowdre does not recognize Max whose plan is to convince Bowdre to join him in an escape attempt and kill him in the swamp. Pilar, a local Cajun girl working in the rice fields near the convicts’ camp, gives Max comfort. She knows nothing about Max's plan to kill Bowdre but knows her way around the swamp. She finds a boat and joins the escape. The boat capsizes early on and Pilar is bitten by a snake. Max kills Bowdre and Pilar dies of the snakebite.

Fitch, the last of the murderers, keeps a tobacco pouch with beaded deerskin made from the Indian dress of Max's mother. Still blinded by revenge, Max pursues Fitch and manages to infiltrate Fitch's gang, calling himself "Nevada Smith". Fitch is aware that Max Sand has killed Coe and Bowdre and 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. Once cornered, Fitch makes a final attempt to finish off Sand by shooting him while pretending to surrender. Sand shoots Fitch in the hand and Fitch drops his gun.

Fitch finally gives up and tells Max to kill him. Max wounds Fitch by non-fatally shooting him several more times. The fallen Fitch now lies in the creek, bleeding profusely. Max tells Fitch that he wants him to beg for his life just as his family begged for theirs. The outlaw insults Max instead and calls him a coward for refusing to kill him. Max decides that Fitch is not worth killing and rides away. As he does so, the bleeding Fitch cries out for Max and begs him to kill him.



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 who was portrayed in a film version of the novel by Alan Ladd. The music score was by Alfred Newman and the cinematography, shot in Eastmancolor and Panavision, by Lucien Ballard.

Nevada Smith was shot on approximately 46 different locations in the Inyo National Forest (in parts of southern California and southwestern Nevada) and the Owens Valley (of southern California) in the Eastern Sierra mountains.

See also


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