Thursday, March 24, 2011

Happy Birthday: Steve McQueen!

Steve McQueen (March 24, 1930 – November 7, 1980), landed his first film depute in a small part in the film, Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956), directed by Robert Wise. A film based on the life of middleweight boxing legend Rocky Graziano. Joseph Ruttenberg, was awarded a 1956 Oscar, in the category of Best Cinematography. The film also won the Oscar for Best Art Direction. The role of Rocky Graziano, was originally to be played by James Dean, but he died before filming began, Paul Newman accepted the part.

The story is about Rocky Graziano, who joins a street gang and gets into trouble and is sent to prison. After his release, he is drafted into the U.S. Army, but runs away. To support himself , he becomes a boxer and wins six fights in a row. Before the Army catches up with him and throws him in a United States Disciplinary Barracks for a year. When he gets out, he falls in love and marries his sister's friend, Norma. He rises to the top, but loses a title fight with Tony Zale. Someone from his past blackmails him into throwing a fight. Rocky fakes an injury and avoids the fight altogether. Will he loose his license and ever be able to fight again?

When McQueen, performed in a two-part television presentation entitled The Defenders, Hollywood manager Hilly Elkins, thought that B-movies, would be a good place for him to start. McQueen was hired to perform in the films: Never Love a Stranger, The Blob (his first leading role), and The Great St. Louis Bank Robbery.

Please click here to read Steve McQueen movie reviews.

McQueen, got a big break when Frank Sinatra removed Sammy Davis, Jr. from the film, Never So Few. When Davis role went to McQueen, Sinatra, made sure that McQueen had plenty of close-up shots. After the film, Never So Few, director John Sturges cast McQueen in his next movie, The Magnificent Seven (1960), which became McQueen's first major hit.

McQueen's next big film, The Great Escape (1963), gave Hollywood's version of the true story of an historical escape from a World War II POW camp. This film made McQueen, a superstar.

In 1963, McQueen starred with Natalie Wood in the film, Love With The Proper Stranger. He later performed in the film, Nevada Smith. McQueen, also earned his only Academy Award nomination in 1966 for his role in, The Sand Pebbles.

He followed his Oscar nomination with the film, Bullitt(1968), one of his most famous films. It featured an amazing car chase through San Francisco.

McQueen, performed as a wealthy executive in one of my favorite films, The Thomas Crown Affair with Faye Dunaway in 1968. He made the Southern period piece The Reivers(1969), followed by the film, Le Mans(1971). Then came the film, The Getaway(1972) during which he met future wife, Ali MacGraw. An action-crime film directed by, Sam Peckinpah. The film is based on a novel by, Jim Thompson. It was remade in 1994 starring Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger.

The story is about Carter "Doc" McCoy, a convict, who is denied parole. He wants his wife Carol, to make a deal with Jack Benyon. Benyon, has Doc paroled on the condition that he take part in a bank robbery, with two of his men. Things go wrong, Frank draws a gun on Doc, who beats him to the draw and shoots Rudy.

Doc meets with Benyon, who attempts a double cross and shot and killed by Carol. Doc gathers up the money and the couple run for the border into Mexico.

Rudy, having secretly worn a bulletproof vest, is still alive. He forces a veterinarian and his wife to treat his injuries, then kidnaps them so he can go after, Doc and Carol.

Benyon's brother Cully and his men also go after Doc and Carol. At the train station, a thief takes Carol's, locker keys and takes their bag of money. Doc, follows the thief onto a train and takes it back. Doc, steals a shotgun and they find themselves several shoot-outs with police. They escape by hiding in a trash bin and dumped at the local landfill.

Rudy's and the veterinarian's wife end up together. They arrive at hotel well known by criminals as a safe house, threatening the hotel's manager. Doc and Carol are given a room on the same floor and ask for food to be delivered, but the manager says he can't leave the desk. Doc, soon realizes that the manager has sent away his family. As they are planning their get away, Fran and Rudy, come to their door. Doc, is surprised to see Rudy alive. He sneaks up from behind and knocks out both Rudy and Fran.

Cully and his men arrive just as the McCoys are leaving. In a gunfight all of Cully's men are killed, except one, who Doc allows to walk away. Rudy now recovered follows Doc, who shoots and kills him.

With the police hot on their heels, the couple hijack a pickup truck and force its driver, a cowboy, to take them to Mexico. After crossing the border, Doc and Carol pay the cowboy for his truck and send him on his way.

He worked for director Sam Peckinpah, again with the leading role in, Junior Bonner (1972), a story of an aging rodeo rider. He followed this with a physically demanding role in the film, Papillon(1973).

After the film, The Towering Inferno(1974), co-starring with his friend, Paul Newman and reuniting him with Dunaway, McQueen wanted to focus on motorcycle racing and traveling around the country in a motor home and on one of his vintage motorcycles. He did not return to acting until the film, An Enemy of the People(1978).

His last films were both loosely based on true stories: Tom Horn, a Western adventure, about a former Army scout turned professional gunman, who worked for the big cattle ranchers and then the film, The Hunter, a action movie, about a modern-day bounty hunter, both released in 1980.


  1. Excellent article about The King of Cool, Dawn! He was his time's fantasy for what many guys wanted to be and many girls just wanted! LOL. Loved your pics and clips. In fact, just like your original blog design, I love this one too! (I can't remember if I ever told you that.)

  2. Be still my heart! And I thought I was over that crush! Thanks for the swell spotlight on Steve (I am on a first name basis with him).

  3. Could one man be any more sexy than Steve in The Getaway, uh no! In my opinion he was the most natural actor, along with Spencer Tracey to ever grace a film. Happy Bday, Steve.

  4. ClassicBecky, Thank you. Everytime.. I think of Steve McQueen, I always think of his amazing car chase through San Francisco.

    FlickChick, LOL... He is very handsome.

    Robin@DecoratingTennisGirl, he also reminds me of Spencer Tracy.

    I thought Steve McQueen, was very sexy in the film, The Thomas Crown Affair.


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