Magazine article Screen International

Gabriel Clarke, 'Steve McQueen: The Man and le Mans'

Magazine article Screen International

Gabriel Clarke, 'Steve McQueen: The Man and le Mans'

Article excerpt

When Steve McQueen starred in Le Mans (1971), he was in his pomp. Thanks to Bullitt and The Thomas Crown Affair, he was among Hollywood's highest paid and most powerful stars, the "king of cool" - and motor racing was his obsession.

The film, which he wanted to be the ultimate racing movie, turned out to be one of the toughest he had ever made - and his career was never quite the same afterwards.

Now, a new feature doc from British directors Gabriel Clarke and John McKenna, tells the story of the film that "almost destroyed" McQueen. Steve McQueen: The Man & Le Mans (screening in Cannes Classics and sold by Content Media) boasts a treasure trove of material relating to the movie that had long since been presumed lost.

"When we began our investigation into this passion project of McQueen's, we knew he had shot so many million feet of film in pursuit of his dream but because of issues with the storyline and the script not coming into place, they continued to film the racing."

It had long been believed that most of the original rushes had gone missing or had been destroyed. However, Clarke and McKenna eventually tracked down much of the material. There were film reels from one of the "making of" docs stored in the LA garage. "They had been there for more than 40 years. Thanks to the kindness of California's climate they had survived the ravages of time," Clarke reflects.

In addition, Clarke and McKenna discovered super 8mm material shot by one of the drivers, Paul Blancpain. …

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