Nevada Smith


This grim-faced Western is powered by the glower of Steve McQueen, irresistible as the titular "half-breed", desperate to avenge his parents' murder. A prequel of sorts, it provides the brutal backstory of the ageing cowboy played by Alan Ladd in The Carpetbaggers.

Not that there's much tonal link between that bawdy Harold Robbins adap and this hate-fuelled 1966 drama. Henry Hathaway directs with the workmanlike eye he brought to True Grit... and turns in a movie that's just as indulgent, a peculiar blend of old-fashioned style with hard-edged evil. That it trots by easily enough is down to a terrific trio of villains - Arthur Kennedy, Martin Landau, Karl Malden - - and McQueen's charisma. The star's appeal is best summed up by a supporting player: "He wasn't a bad guy. A little hard but kind of interesting."

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