Spotlight On: Steve McQueen

In the Stacks: A Blog Straight from the Mind of Steve

Well hello, dear readers! Long time, no chat. It’s sad to think that it’s been about one year since my last blog. I just figured I’d give you all a small break from my “awesome” content to get your minds prepared to read my latest rant. I surely hope that you enjoy. 🙂

Now I really did want to start my first blog in a LONG time with an important subject. To me, there is no greater one than Steve McQueen. You will find his name on any list of classic Hollywood actors. This man I feel will forever hold the title “King of Cool”.  Whenever Steve McQueen was on the screen, your eyes locked directly on him. He subconsciously demanded your attention no matter what he may have been doing on camera. Numerous friends of his in the acting business always described him as having such “piercing blue eyes” and that he had the “X factor” as a man, though I’m sure we all know what that translates to.

steve blog

The above photo is the cover of the most current documentary made about him. Aptly titled “I Am Steve McQueen”, this stunning documentary is something anyone who ever watched him on the screen, heard about him, maybe even remembers him while he was still living would enjoy. It’s the full package so to speak. The narratives of this documentary are provided by some current legends of the screen such as Pierce Brosnan and Gary Oldman, ex-wife Ali McGraw, as well as relatives such as son Chad McQueen and grandson Steven R McQueen of Vampire Diaries fame. This documentary really gives you a strong insight behind those blue eyes; from his love of exotic sports cars, to many a beautiful woman. Hearing the details from old loved ones will surely make you blush at times.

Now on a personal note, I do feel it rather ironic that a man of this magnitude (while he was acting), who commanded such attention while performing in movies, was only ever once nominated for an Academy Award. I think as well that many a film major could look at Steve’s long imdb list and say that maybe, just maybe, Steve McQueen wasn’t necessarily a “great” actor. What I do know is this: As every person who ever worked with him on the set of a movie or TV show can agree Steve had the most natural ability to replace long dialogues in his scripts with facial gestures. Seriously, the man once told a crewmember on the set of The Sand Pebbles (the one movie he was nominated for the Oscar for) as he was crossing out line after line in the script, “I’ll just do it with my face”. Clearly I’m no film expert, but I won’t contradict the decisions of the Academy.

Steve started out small, came from a very broken home, or rather, set of homes. He was raised on the streets of New York, and eventually earned himself the title “El Bandito” as he was a very cunning back alley hood. Eventually, he got sent away to the Boys Republic juvenile detention center. There he really had time to see what the future held for him if he continued his hooligan ways. When he got out, he joined the Marine Corps and became a tank operator. I know, troubled boys needing to toy around with big destructive things-crazy! Once out the Marines, he took his GI Bill grant money back to New York and joined his neighborhood theatre playhouse, for the girls as he admitted frequently. There, in order to stay active and out of trouble, he began working day and night to perfect improvisations and monologue readings. He really sought to do all that he could to draw the audience’s attention in order to stay relevant on stage. Of course, he would take that methodology to the silver screen not too much later. Soon enough, Steve was accepted into the Actor’s Studio and started working with some of the greatest actors of his time. From there, he landed some small spots in movies and TV. His first big role was playing bounty hunter Josh Randall in the show Wanted: Dead or Alive. Once he started making movies with MGM and legendary director John Sturgess, Steve became the new Hollywood bad boy leading or costarring in timeless classics like The Magnificent Seven, The Great Escape and The Cincinnati Kid. Now I think from here, history just tells the rest. The list of his great accomplishments goes on and on. There’s Bullet, The Thomas Crown Affair, Papillon, The Sand Pebbles and so on.

In his personal life, Steve was by no means a monogamous man. Also, with his ever growing dependency to alcohol and drugs, his temper would constantly get the better of him. Though he did very much love his first wife Neile Adams, his next wife Ali McGraw, and last wife Barbara Minty, Steve was a party man by nature. A swinger and go-go dancer like many socialites out of the 60s. And between a hip lifestyle and his acting gigs, Steve always took plenty of time to perfect his one true love, racing. Steve lived in the fast lane, both for his business and pleasure. He always worked to compete and win in desert motorcycle races, or racing sports cars on the Sebring raceway. His love of racing led him to eventually make the most intense racing movie of his time, Le Mans. It was a brutal movie to make for many a reason, and most people believe that that movie, which bombed in the box office, started Steve’s descent out of Hollywood royalty. Over time, his body gave way to his own mortality and after wrapping up his final motion picture The Hunter in 1980, Steve McQueen was pronounced dead on his hospital bed due to complications from his lung cancer.  But as many will say; his movies and overall legacy stays strong, even today.

So, to wrap up this latest blog, I would once again like to make my same shameless plug that if you ever are interested in checking out any of the many many MANY movies, biographies, and documentaries both in DVD or book form that chronicle the great works of this tremendous former film God, you can find whatever you need at any LVCCLD branch. I strongly advise you to try looking sometime. I can assure you, you will not be disappointed. So… thanks as always for your time dear readers. And until my next blog (which I promise won’t take another year) stay classy… stay reading… stay cool!

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