review for Nevada Smith on AllMovie

Nevada Smith (1966)
by Michael Costello review

Hathaway's revenge Western, minimal enough in its dialogue to seem like a silent at times, is a perfect setting for McQueen's perennially aggrieved persona. Although often primitive in its technique, the austere beauty of the film's Western locations, its leisurely pace, and the methodical nature of the hero's pursuit imbue its inevitable violence with a strangely meditative cast. Unlike action films of recent decades, where revenge is usually swift and sure, Nevada Smith underlines the exhaustive nature of McQueen's search and the sheer physical toll of killing even one man. As the years pass, the film records the ugly transformation of the vulnerable kid into a stone-cold killer. Except for Arthur Kennedy, who is reliably good in the meatiest of the roles afforded the villains, McQueen so dominates the film that the excellent cast really only needs to use a fraction of their talent. Among its spectacular locations are Mount Ritter and Banner Peak in California, and Atchafalaya Basin in Louisiana.