Directed by Henry Hathaway
Steve McQueen as Nevada Smith / Max Sand
Karl Malden as Tom Fitch
Brian Keith as Jonas Cord
Martin Landau as Jesse Coe
Arthur Kennedy as Bill Bowdre
Suzanne Pleshette as Pilar
Raf Vallone as Father Zaccardi
Janet Margolin as Neesa
Pat Hingle as Big Foot, prison work camp trustee
Howard Da Silva as Warden of prison work camp
Paul Fix as Sheriff Bonnell
Iron Eyes Cody as Taka-Ta
James Breden as outlaw
Gene Evans as Sam Sand
Josephine Hutchinson as Mrs. Elvira McCandles
John Doucette as Uncle Ben McCandles
Val Avery as Buck Mason the bartender
Bill Bowdre, Jesse Coe, and Tom Fitch are a gang of criminals led by Fitch who steals, persecutes, and maliciously murders young Max Sand’s parents. All Max has in mind after the tragedy is to get revenge on the gang. Max’s mother was an Indian and one of the guys took a piece of deerskin with Indian beads from his mother’s shirt for his tobacco pouch. This big clue helps Max to find them in his search.
Even though Max does not know how to read, write, or handle a gun, he manages to learn how to use a gun from a stranger by the name of Jonas Cord. He met him while he was trying to rob from him. A traveling gunsmith, Cord grows fond of Max and teaches him everything he knows. Max searches for the gang who are no longer working together. Neesa, a woman from the same tribe as his mother, helps him to search for Jesse Coe in Texas. He ends up killing him in a knife fight at a bar. Max ends up injured and Neesa takes him to the reservation to help heal him and become lovers at that point.
Once Max feels better from his wounds, he leaves Neesa to finish his revenge. He intentionally gets caught in a robbery to be sent to the same prison in Louisiana where Bowdre is an inmate. With the help of a Cajun girl by the name of Pilar, he finds Bowdre. She gives Max a boat to flee away from the prison with Bowdre. He kills him right away, but unfortunately Pilar dies from a snake bite when the boat tips over in the swamp. Not done with his revenge yet, Max sets out to search for Fitch. Still blinded by revenge, Max goes after Fitch, the last of the murderers. He insinuates Fitch's gang and starts going by the name of Nevada Smith. He informs them there is a criminal named Max Sand who is after Fitch.
Fitch is already planning a robbery and as they get away with the robbery, Fitch discovers that Nevada Smith is really Max Sand. Immediately Fitch makes a run for it but Max finds him near a creek and starts to afflict him with severe pain by shooting him in the arms and legs. Fitch cannot take the pain anymore and begs Max to kill him right away. Instead Max leaves him there without ending his life.