Steve McQueen the icon

Steve McQueen

Left early. Please come with the money… or, you keep the car. All my love, Tommy.

It was difficult to find riders as skilled as McQueen.At one point, using editing, McQueen is seen in a German uniform chasing himself on another bike.

In 1971 McQueen starred in the poorly received auto-racing drama Le Mans. Then came The Getaway where he met future wife Ali MacGraw. He worked for director Sam Peckinpah again with the leading role in Junior Bonner in 1972, a story of an aging rodeo rider.

By the time of The Getaway, McQueen was the world’s highest paid actor. But after 1974’s The Towering Inferno, co-starring with his long-time professional rival Paul Newman and reuniting him with Dunaway, became a tremendous box-office success, McQueen all but disappeared from the public eye.

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Steve McQueen

My influences come from real life. I'm not interested in cinema for cinema's sake. I'm interested in life—what one does and how one interacts.

McQueen was widely known as a tremendous motorcyclist and racecar driver.
When insurance companies for the films allowed, he would perform many of his own stunts.

In 1973 McQueen flew to England to meet Oliver Reed and discuss a possible film collaboration. “Reed showed me his country mansion and we got on well,” recalled McQueen.
“He then suggested he take me to his favorite London nightclub.” The drinking, which started at Reed’s home, Broome Hall, continued into the night until Reed could hardly stand.

Suddenly, and with no apparent warning, he vomited over McQueen’s shirt and trousers. “The staff rushed around and found me some new clothes, but they couldn’t get me any shoes,” said McQueen.
“I had to spend the rest of the night smelling of Oliver Reed’s sick.”.

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Steve McQueen

I have to be careful because I'm a limited actor. I mean, my range isn't very great. There's a whole lot of stuff I can't do, so I have to find characters and situations that feel right.

I’m not a great actor – let’s face it. I don’t have a great deal of scope. There are certain things I can do, but when I’m bad, I stink. There’s something about my shaggy dog eyes that makes people think I’m good. I’m not all that good.

McQueen and John Sturges planned to make Day of the Champion, a movie about Formula One racing, but McQueen was busy with the delayed The Sand Pebbles. They had a contract with the German Nürburgring, and
after John Frankenheimer shot scenes there for Grand Prix, the reels were turned over to Sturges.

McQueen was an avid motorcycle and racecar enthusiast. When he had the opportunity to drive in a movie, he performed many stunts. Perhaps the most memorable were the car chases in Bullitt and motorcycle
chases in The Great Escape.

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Steve McQueen

I'm certainly not who people think I am. I always do whatever I want to do, and my films are personal to me.

Throughout the film, McQueen and Dunaway play a cat and mouse game, both on the professional level and also on the sexual level.
The sexual tension during the chess game for example is so palpable, you can’t help but be drawn in, dwelling on every stroke of Dunaway’s fingers and every twitch on McQueen’s face.

The car driven by Dunaway, referred to as “one of those red Italian things,” is the first of only ten Ferrari 275 GTB/4 NART Spyders built.
Today, this model is one of the most valuable Ferrari road cars of all time. McQueen liked the car very much, and eventually managed to acquire one for himself.

The film also features the chess scene with McQueen and Dunaway play a game of chess, silently flirting with each other.
The photography is unusual for a mainstream Hollywood film, using a split-screen mode.

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Steve McQueen



Steve McQueen the icon