Happy Birthday Steve McQueen!

Today would have been Steve McQueen‘s 77th birthday and I’m using it as an excuse to post some photos of him since he’s one of my favorite actors and I’ve got a lot of photos of him stashed away on my computer for a day like today. Steve was very photogenic and he took a lot of great photos. He also made a lot of great films.

Some of my favorite Steve McQueen movies are The Blob (1958), The Magnificent Seven (1960), The Great Escape (1963), Love With the Proper Stranger (1963), Baby, the Rain Must Fall (1965), The Cincinnati Kid (1965), Sand Pebbles (1966), The Thomas Crown Affair (1968), Bullitt (1968), Le Mans (1971), The Getaway (1972) and Papillon (1973), which are all worth a look. I believe all of the McQueen movies I mentioned are easily available on DVD except for Love with the Proper Stranger and The Sand Pebbles which has been discontinued, but The Sand Pebbles is getting re-released by 20th Century Fox later this year.

It’s a shame that Love with the Proper Stranger hasn’t been released on DVD yet since it teams up Steve McQueen with Natalie Wood, and they’re a a perfect movie match. It’s hard to think of a cuter couple that Hollywood could have brought together in 1963. Steve worked with a lot of great leading ladies including Lee Remick, Ann-Margret, Tuesday Weld, Candice Bergen, Faye Dunaway, Jacqueline Bisset and real-life partner actress Ali MacGraw, but I think Steve & Natalie have really fantastic chemistry together on screen. Love with the Proper Stranger is a thoughtful film that deals with the complex subject of abortion and Steve and Natalie are both terrific in it. I suppose the subject matter might have something to do with why it hasn’t seen a DVD release yet. Hopefully Love with the Proper Stranger will find it’s way onto DVD soon since I think it’s a great movie, but at least you can still find copies of the film on VHS.

Steve McQueen was the quintessential ’60s American actor. There may have been better performers but I don’t think there have been many other American actors that can match McQueen’s charisma when he’s on screen. McQueen didn’t like to perform. He didn’t have to. He was natural actor and the roles he took became part of who he was, who he wanted to be and who he was running from. When you watch him you can sense that he was genuinely dangerous, but when he smiles he can light up the screen. I think he was an irresistible combination of bad boy and little boy lost. That volatile mix somehow appeals to both men and women. Lots of men want to be Steve McQueen and lots of women want to be with Steve McQueen. His last years were troubled, but I think he’ll always be remembered as a great icon of American ’60s cinema.

8 thoughts on “Happy Birthday Steve McQueen!

  1. Peter Nellhaus says:

    Love with the Proper Stranger might be my favorite film by Robert Mulligan. It seems odd to think that mainstream American films were more truly adult forty years ago. A film you didn’t mention that I think is McQueen’s best later film is Peckinpah’s Junior Bonner. I saw The War Lover last June and found that to be an interesting film with McQueen playing an unlikable character.

  2. cinebeats says:

    I haven’t seen Junior Bonner or The War Lover so thanks for the recommendations Peter!

    Robert Mulligan made a lot of great films so I’d have a hard time picking favorites, but Love with the Proper Stranger is definitely one of them. I hope it’s released on DVD soon.

  3. Neil says:

    Dang! Now, I’m going to have to check out The War Lover, too. It looks quite interesting.

    I agree regarding Junior Bonner. It’s a fantastic movie, with great performances also by Robert Preston and Ida Lupino, as well as everyone really, but how many can I list? Honestly, I think it’s my favorite McQueen performance, though.

  4. Jeremy says:

    Wow,
    I can’t believe the man would have been 77. Great tribute to one of my favorites. Junior Bonner is terrific (Barbara Leigh has a small role) but I think I prefer The Getaway as far as Peckinpah collaborations go. Also The Cincinnati Kid, Thomas Crown Affair, Bullitt. The man made some classic films.
    One film I love that often gets overlooked is Soldier In The Rain with Steve and Tuesday Weld.
    Love With The Proper Stranger is near the top of my list of most wanted Dvds. Natalie Wood is another favorite and the two of them together are really incredible. And it is a very adult film on a serious subject. I can’t believe that it still hasn’t been released on disc.
    Great tribute….great photos…thanks for posting

  5. cinebeats says:

    It’s weird to think of McQueen as 77…. but I think he would have been a cool old man.

    I haven’t seen Soldier In The Rain Jeremy so thanks for recommending it! I’ve been really curious about that movie since I caught the last 15min. of it on TV years ago but I’ve never seen the whole thing.

    That’s 3 votes for a DVD release of Love With the Proper Stranger so I hope someone at Paramount reads this. 😉

  6. Linda says:

    Hi

    I came accross this thing you put on line about Steve McQueen.

    I recently saw Thomas Crown Affair again and I was reminded of how great and sexy he was. I read things on line that I never knew about him…..thanks to the modern information highway…. the internet.

    His life was certainly a paradox. I think he achieved greatness, especially considering his back ground. Thinking about him and reading about him is very sad…..since he died so young.

  7. Eric Olsen says:

    Yes, Steve was one of the best acreen actors of the 20th Century.
    I appreciate your comments for favorite McQueen movie. However, he best displayed his fundamentally sensitive nature in the movie, Soldier In The Rain, opposite Jackie Gleason who also had one of his best performances therein.
    I may be off the wall and discriminating in my favorite movies for individual actors, and this is best shown when I say Paradise Alley was the best film for Sylvester Stalone.
    So Steve, until that time, God bless.

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