This comes a day late, but if you have access to TCM (Turner Classic Movies), set your DVR or VCR because TCM is having a Steve McQueen film salute. The salute will be tonight (June 2, 2005) and tomorrow night (June 3, 2005) during prime time. It starts both nights at 7 PM Central. It includes a brand new documentary on McQueen called Steve McQueen: The Essence of Cool. No title is more appropriate. McQueen is in the simplest terms, a bad ass. Every movie he is in, good or bad, you will enjoy his performance.
I was introduced to McQueen in 2004, when I caught Papillion on TCM’s The Essentials. I had always heard about McQueen, about how he was the coolest, about how there was no star like him. After the movie I realized that everything I had heard were true. He has this certain something, it is unexplainable. When the camera looks into his eyes, you realize this is a man to take seriously. You can draw your own conclusions, but after that introduction to McQueen, I searched out every movie I could find. A few will be shown during the McQueen salute.
On Thursday the night begins with The Great Escape. This movie is three hours long and packed with recognizable faces. This movie is about prisoners of war who try to escape from a German prison camp. McQueen, of course, steals the movie as the loner who decides to join the group, if for no other reason than to annoy the Germans who are holding them captive. I highly recommend this movie, it is a must see classic.
After The Great Escape comes Hell is for Heroes, another war movie. This movie has a great story about a small troop of soldiers who must hold back a large brigade of German soldiers. McQueen is the bad ass that cares for no one, including himself. Not a classic, but a good flick. The last movie for Thursday is Never So Few. McQueen is not the main star of this movie, Frank Sinatra is, but according to the new documentary, he steals it quite easily from Ol’ Blue Eyes. I have not seen this movie, but I am going to DVR it and watch it this weekend. DISH doesn’t hold it in too high of a regard with a 2+ star rating, but I will watch nonetheless.
Friday night the McQueen salute starts off with a cult classic The Blob. This movie was supposed to be a huge box office failure but ended up making a pretty good profit in that time. McQueen is the hero, of course, and has to combat the, well, the blob. I haven’t seen this movie and I will DVR it, even though I believe that this could be one you can miss. It will be followed by the documentary The Essence of Cool. This I have seen and I highly recommend it. It looks back at his career and life. It has appearances by wives, children, and many who worked with McQueen. It is a fascinating look at the man onscreen and behind it. The McQueen salute ends with the Magnificent Seven. Once again this is a movie in which McQueen was not the main star, but he steals it from Yul Brynner. In fact, as you will find out in the documentary, McQueen and Brynner did not like each other at all. One reason was because every scene that McQueen had with Brynner, he did everything he could to make himself more noticeable in the background to draw attention for Brynner. If you are a fan of the western genre, this is one of the best. It also contains a couple of my favorite actors appearing in co starring roles, including James Coburn, Charles Bronson, and Eli Wallach.
You will be well served to check out some of these movies on TCM or seek them out yourself. One thing is certain, once you watch Steve McQueen you will become a fan. Even after all these years he can still garb hold of you and not let go.