Yesterday “High Sierra Man” took exception to an observation I posted about Steve McQueen‘s Le Mans that I posted in “Roar of Motor Oil, Smell of the Crowd“, to wit: “Le Mans marked the end of McQueen’s superstar phase.”
High Sierra wrote: “Except after Le Mans he famously got his name above Paul Newman (a clever battle of marquee placements) on blockbuster Towering Inferno, starred in breakout hit The Getaway, starred in the epic Papillon and a few years later died. So you’ve got that on your side. Worth noting: ten years after McQueen died he was still a brighter burning screen star than 95% of the wankers clogging up our current cinemas. McQueen Then, Now, Forever.”
“Filmklassik” agreed, calling my statement “frankly silly. McQueen was being offered EVERYTHING in the 1970s. Everything.”
HE to High Sierra Man and others: Agree about ‘then, now and forever.’ Always have, always will. But I was referencing Gabriel Clarke & John McKenna’s 2015 doc Steve McQueen: The Man & Le Mans. Their film stated very plainly that this ‘71 race-track pic was the film that broke McQueen’s spirit as well as his legend to a significant extent, and that things were never quite the same after it.
In my mind McQueen had a great 14-year run from ‘60/‘62 (The Magnificent Seven, Hell Is For Heroes) to his last quality spurt (Junior Bonner, The Getaway and The Towering Inferno) that ended in ‘74. Call it 15 years.
But his Godly McQueen aura, that quietly measured and invincible thing that peaked with Bullitt, that Zen-like, supercool man-of-few-words + awesome motorcycle and Mustang-driving era was shorter — The Great Escape to Le Mans or roughly an eight-year stretch.