Festivities, drugs, sex … Death to 49 years, Steve McQueen, former engineer and sailor, has burned his life and terrorized Hollywood sets. A documentary, “Steve McQueen: The Man and Le Mans”, talks about what made him vibrate first: motor racing.
Thirty-five years after the death of Steve McQueen, the saga is expanding, people start to speak and everyone can rewrite his role at will. Take Alan Trustman, that film had quite forgotten in the limelight of a new documentary – Steve McQueen: The Man and Le Mans – the ex-writer, which is converted in the trading of precious metals, inflates importance. In dark suit and bow tie, as the sages of the bar aristocratic airs (which it was), precious octogenarian tells how he became a mentor to a star who lived on the reserve: “I l ‘I believe that as soon as he arrived on a tray, and whatever the director says he had to recite this mantra: “I decide myself what is good or bad, and I do not have explain to me! I love women, but I am a little afraid, I do not commit myself in a relationship because there is always the risk of suffering! I do not fight, but if you seek me mess, I demolished you! ” “
” That son of a bitch knows me as a person! “Steve McQueen, about the writer Alan Trustman
According Trustman Steve McQueen invariably recited these lines before each film. And played well with this character skinned monster. The lawyer knows about it. To write the scenarios The Thomas Crown Affair and Bullitt, McQueen who made a deity in the late 1960s, Trustman studied the actor in every seams ( “That son of a bitch knows me as a person! “ said it). He then accompanied him in a crucial period of his life. That in which the actor wanted to take power in Hollywood and produced the film “ultimate” about car racing. To crashing in beauty.
The man and the Man s, Gabriel Clarke and John McKenna, two English documentary, detailing, with a beautiful profusion of intimate testimonies and archival footage, obsessions and foolish challenges of a comedian whose heart never beat so fast that in fever of a race. They have the continuity of ideas. Their previous film, dedicated to motorcyclist Barry Sheene and James Hunt, star of F1, is titled When playboys ruled the world . It depicts the early 1970s, when the pilot made the wedding with the stars and the speed was the most glamorous conquests. “The time was to release all-out , said Gabriel Clarke. Hollywood, rock, sport, sex and drugs go together, and the creed was the same: always push the limits. “
Declaration of Independence
Steve McQueen is not a gambler, but the speed is his drug. And away from his character for the beautiful prolo evolve in a three piece suits medley, gentleman burglar senior business sphere, the Thomas Crown Alan Trustman gave him ideas. The actor will become his own boss and sign its declaration of independence. He has a reputation for never letting filmmakers in peace, asking every day to see the rushes and discussing each scene to exhaustion ( “A mixture of Socrates and Stanislavski,” writing biographer) he took the leap, becoming his own producer and launched his mini-production studio – named Solar – in the landscape of the new Hollywood of the late sixties. He dreams of moving to the realization and according to him, the cinema has become “a business without thank you” where you have to shoot down his own cards. He sees the big picture: “After Thomas Crown says Neile Adams, his first wife, whom he met when she was a queen of Broadway, he told me “I will build us an empire, my doll!” “
Steve McQueen is a leader in the soul, coupled with an upset star. His relationship with Hollywood has always been complicated. Since its Broadway debut in 1950, he refused to fit the mold and follows his instinct, which is not always the best counselor. The list of films he squandered almost more impressive than his own filmography: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Dirty Harry, French Connection, Heaven’s Gate, Flight over a nest cuckoo, Apocalypse now … ‘ He was honest, scrupulous and wary. Sometimes too, “ confided Michael Cimino, companion of the great motorcycle trips in the desert of California. “I’m a street kid , said McQueen. I’m not ready to make any compromise. “
When it comes to the Actor’s Studio in New York, in 1953, to take acting classes, he did little more than 20 years but character sturdy, sculpted by an already long and rugged biography. Abandoned by his father, neglected by his mother, he took to his heels in adolescence, is engaged in the merchant navy, crisscrossed America with a traveling circus or on platforms of freight trains, made a detour to a correction home … It was known lumberjack, a taxi driver, mechanic. Beau tormented kid, hard leather and deep cracks. The Man and Le Mans , a relative reported that McQueen said he had read only one book, a biography of Alexander the Great who was deeply affected because she tale the story of a man that ‘ has conquered the world without ever managing to tame himself. “
Brutale ironically, his destiny owes much the speed madness took another rebel whimsical and chagrineux, James Dean, actor king of their generation. The death of The prodigy Rebel , driving his Porsche Spyder, opens perspectives to his comrades, Paul Newman and Steve McQueen. It leaves vacant leading roles (beginning with that of Marked by hatred, who returned to Paul Newman, with McQueen in a small role), but also an idol instead “cool” and virile Elvis in America Presley, open to the winds of youth.
Paul Newman and Steve McQueen ardently argue. At that point the star of The Great Escape has missed Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid for failing to share top billing with his rival: “It was a real star, commented Richard Zanuck, head of Fox. I l was no way for him to be the second, he preferred to erase. “ McQueen and Newman also share with James Dean, a taste for fast cars, but on this land the star of The Great Escape and Bullitt champion motorcycle in his spare time, is sure to have to have a good head start.
“The only race worth living. During the rest of his life, it is just waiting. “
When it starts to flood his production company, located in the former offices of Republic Pictures studios, which produce films John Ford and Nicholas Ray, Steve McQueen picks setting immediately. Bullitt and legendary car chase through the streets of San Francisco (McQueen could not take the risk of holding the steering wheel itself), is a huge commercial and critical success. “Steve McQueen is accused of not playing on the screen, nothing but himself, writes Roger Ebert. This is completely off the plate. Like him, Humphrey Bogart and John Wayne are, first, the actors, but attendance … They built a myth and false when they appear to deviate. “
Mastering his image and career, the actor is riding the tops of radiant era. A “summer of love” that stretches over several years is offered to him. Free love, cocaine and marijuana. He gives in his California mansion, sumptuous and sweetly decadent parties where play Neil Young and Johnny Rivers. Although the sweet madness sometimes turns to paranoia and if he does not walk without a Magnum revolver (it does to a tryst to have escaped the massacre Charles Manson he was a target) he can finally devote to the project of a lifetime: the “definitive” film about motor racing, the total trip that will immerse viewers in the vertigo of speed and will understand what the actor feels him: “ Only the race is worth living. During the rest of his life, it is just waiting. “
The champion is overtaken
” His project for Le Mans was a visionary adventure says documentary filmmaker John McKenna. He wanted to explore lands that no one had visited before him. Being at the same time, producer, actor and driver. Use all technologies to give a sense of immersion, much like Gravity did recently with space. He placed cameras on cars – a revolution at the time – to reach the heart of this maelstrom. “ Since the mid-1960s, Steve McQueen is working on a script – Day of the Champion – but, during the filming of The Sand Pebbles It has the unpleasant surprise to learn that it has doubled. John Frankenheimer turned GP in 1966 on major European circuits, with James Garner and Yves Montand. McQueen wants even more to his friend that he has a time Garner was approached for the role. The two men are neighbors, they cater more to the floor and the small Legend has it that night, Steve McQueen go pee on the lawn of his rival, “as you did on my film” . To complicate matters, Paul Newman fate in turn, in 1969, a feature film in which he endorses the combination of the driver, Turns on the Indianapolis circuit.
If it is not the first, Steve McQueen is the best. He does not see things differently. And not just to convince financiers. At the turn of the 1970s, nothing can resist him and his association with the biggest race in the world can only make a killing at the box office. To place the bar above, it undertakes, the first day of spring 1970 (with a broken foot), in one of the most famous races in the American continent, the 12 Hours of Sebring. The middle of the race the professional look arrive with a bit of fun, but on the evening of the race, the actor commands respect: the crew finished in second place and took the champion Mario Andretti pulls to take with a ridiculous lead of twelve seconds.
Apart from the glorious uncertainty of sport, the film was not the beginning of the beginning of a plot and McQueen did not want it.
At Le Mans, McQueen would do it again, but the insurance does not allow it to engage. In those years, car racing is deadly, pilots disappearing one after the other, and the $ 60 million budget rest on the shoulders of the star. McQueen and his associates still line up cars in the Le Mans 24 Hours in June 1970 for filming the race from the inside. Then they will restore for fiction needs and install their “Solar Village” on the circuit for several months. For the realization of this extraordinary movie, Steve McQueen seeks the gem. He received some promising candidates, Steven Spielberg ( “too young” ) and George Lucas (“ too small” ), before turning to a solid fellow, John Sturges, with whom he toured The Magnificent Seven and The Great Escape.
Le Mans must mark off and propel him into another dimension, but for Steve McQueen, the beginning of the end. The adventure quickly bogged down. The actor-producer pays tribute to his passion and only the sensations of the race of interest. He does not want any compromise with the Hollywood orthodoxy has little interest in amour and wishes to play a character loser. John Sturges and associated producers are tearing their hair. Apart from the glorious uncertainty of sport, the film was not the beginning of the beginning of a plot, and McQueen did not want it. Writers succeed on the circuit but failed to have the last word. Alan Trustman, the author of Bullitt and Thomas Crown , which has all the keys of the character, is invited to turn. Fiasco. “When I came to this meeting he says, I was the highest-paid writer in America. After I left this movie, my phone has never come! “
” Too much pressure “
Each day of work where cars turn engulfs considerable sums. The drivers are not sure what to do or why they do it, and one of them, David Piper, lost a leg in an accident. In the castle he rented in Le Mans campaign, parties, under persistent influence of the “summer of love” also turn sour. Plagued by multiple conquests of the actor-getter, which no one resists, the torque Neile and Steve McQueen dissolves epic and brutal scenes. John Sturges throws in the towel and financial sends a filmmaker in France without major, Lee H. Katzin, to fit the case. Steve McQueen crouches, his dream is damaged and he distances. It does not see the premiere of Le Mans, which will be a resounding flop.
The continuous career. Steve McQueen rotates with Sam Peckinpah ( Ambush and Junior Bonner), triumphs in The Towering Inferno , with Paul Newman, his enemy preferred (that will make him the supreme affront to finish second of the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1979), but the actor and director will never seem to have lost the sacred fire. It still has a few years to live. At the beginning of the documentary Clarke and McKenna, one hears her voice, shortly before his death in Mexico in 1980. He tries to explain the lung cancer who picked the approaching fifty. Asbestos, does it advance. He approached during his years in the Navy. But we also found in the driver combinations. And tension with its partners. The weight of the adventures they dream of every spare gravity. “Too much pressure” he said.
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