Each Monday, I continue to share Western movie reviews. I have now launched a podcast about the making of Westerns and the overall filmmaking process. Click here to listen.


Week 145: Nevada

This “Bob” Mitchum Western could not be more different than the other Zane Grey adaptation he starred in around the same time. West of the Pecos, a film I watched and disliked weeks ago, is a silly adventure with characters that don’t make any sense. Nevada, on the other hand, is a sharply written and directed piece that clocks in a little over an hour (my favorite runtime for feature films).

The difference between these two films is pretty clear from the start as we’re treated to a more serious set up for Mitchum to deal with. Combining a plot that includes mining fraud, double-crossing partners, and dirty gambling houses, screenwriter Norman Houston nails it. How could he have written both of these films? Furthermore, both films were directed by Edward Killy! Is the source material the issue? Only a more entailed study of Killy’s directing work may answer that question.

Nevada features no silliness in its romantic subplots and especially no pretty women crossdressing as cowboys. In fact, its triangular romance is underplayed and effective. The comedy too is more understated. The town drunk Pancake is a memorable character. I loved when he finished everyone’s drink at the bar when they stormed out into the street for a hanging. Guinn ‘Big Boy’ Williams and Richard Martin, Mitchum’s comic sidekicks, have their hokey moments but they also have clever ones.

Overall, this picture worked so much better for me. For this viewer and filmmaker, it is crucial that characters be believable within the context of each film world. And here they are.

Watched on Tubi.