“Steve McQueen: The Man And Le Mans” Tells The Story Of One Man’s Obsession


May 26, 2017 — Steve McQueen was obsessed with racing, with cars and bikes, with speed, But most of all, he became obsessed with the 24 Hours of Le Mans car race.

Most car races are only about speed; Le Mans is about speed, certainly, but also reliability, efficiency, maneuverability. For 24 hours, racers — and their cars — are subjected to real roads and almost real driving conditions. It is an unforgiving race.

That may have been why Steve McQueen loved it so much.  

At the height of his popularity, he used his clout to produce a movie called, simply, Le Mans. He didn’t care much for the plot lines, even though producers insisted that a movie must have one. He started production without a finished script. He wanted real drivers so that the racing footage would be real, and not worked out by Hollywood stuntman. His mania about being true to the race left a trail of destruction behind him.

By the end of the shoot, his wife had left him, several of his friendships were finished, one driver had barely escaped with his life, another had lost a leg. The production company pulled all financing until McQueen gave up rights, control and his salary.

And there was still no script.

The movie was a flop. The reviews praised the racing footage, but claimed that the film itself had no story. If Steve McQueen hadn’t been the most popular actor in the world, the movie would have ended his career. Hollywood thought he was finished, but McQueen’s fans demanded more from the superstar.

What made him obsess about this one car race? The producers and directors of this acclaimed documentary look behind the curtain to understand what made this race the one that spoke to this superstar.

Stream Steve McQueen: The Man and Le Mans, or buy it on DVD or Blu-ray.


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