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Steve McQueen:The Man and LeMans

Discussion in 'Other Racing' started by Juan-Manuel Fantango, Nov 19, 2017.

  1. Juan-Manuel Fantango

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    Watching this on TMCw. Direct TV 554 as I type this. Really interesting . Just curious, anyone on here close to McQueen or the making of LeMans? My favorite movie of all time; how accurate is this documentary? Quite amazing, Piper just talked about loosing his leg.
     
  2. BartonWorkman

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    The production of "Le Mans" was a train wreck as first made public by Michael Keyer's book "French Kiss With Death"
    (1999).

    It may be noted that Michael Keyser was a top IMSA Camel GT driver during the 70's and won the 1976 12 Hours
    of Sebring overall with Al Holbert. He also produced and directed the great documentary "The Speed Merchants" which
    highlighted the 1972 World Endurance Championship as well as numerous racing books.

    Keyser likes to say, "I know where all the skeletons are buried" and we hear his voice on several occasions during
    the documentary.

    "The Man and Le Mans" took the book's premise, along with interviews and video clips cobbled the documentary
    together. I received a director's cut of it on DVD from Keyser before it actually premiered as at the time, there were
    some plans afoot to do a premiere event in Miami coordinating with the production company Chad McQueen and Keyser. But, the wide release of the movie was delayed and I'm not sure if it was ever released to theaters or not (don't think it was, unless it played in art house type venues) and the whole thing came to nothing.

    The accuracy of the documentary should speak for itself really as it features most, if not all, the major players involved
    in the production with interviews and recorded outtakes of other participants whom are no longer with us.

    Having watched the documentary many times now, it may be an easy reaction to think that everyone was picking on
    McQueen. I don't think this was the case really as on hearing the interviews, everyone speaks of him with a lot
    of reverence and respect (except for the director and partner whom he had a falling out) and I always go back
    to Piper's comment, "Steve's heart was in the right place".

    The whole production of "Le Mans" simply became overwhelming for McQueen as in his first movie for Solar Productions,
    his own company, he wanted so much to impress the racing world (which he certainly did) but on a personal level,
    McQueen was out of control, chasing women around and, as the book points out, his cocaine use threatened to throw the whole thing off the rails until the backer's basically fired McQueen and installed a new director who took the helm and finished the production.

    BHW
     
  3. Smiles

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    Great post, Barton.

    I’ve have the French Kiss book. Great summary.

    Matt
     
  4. BartonWorkman

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    Thanks Matt.

    It's funny because I just got an Email from the production company which made "The Mans and Le Mans" last
    week which I should have read in retrospect but deleted before doing so.

    Not sure what it was about, may have to ask Keyser.

    BHW
     
  5. lorenzobandini

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  6. BartonWorkman

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    And, in each case I was there.

    We saw Steve McQueen holding court with the gathered media on the Sebring pit lane in 1971. He was sitting on the
    pit wall with his crutches giving interviews and taking pictures with fans. My sister, who was half delirious at the time,
    worked her way through the mix and took a cool picture of him. Wish I could find that...

    Back in the day, you weren't a real Sebring fan unless you were at Victory Lane at the end of the race. It seemed everyone
    we ran into, the conversation always ended "See you at Victory Lane!" and the celebration in 1976 was just crazy as Keyser
    remembers as he points out in my article "Sebring: Evolution of a Tradition" on Anamera (shameless plug).

    In those days, starlets, models, Penthouse Pets and Playboy Bunnies were a common sight in the Sebring paddock.
    Remembering Anneka was easy as she stood out, not just beautiful but with a bubbly personality, ever in a different outfit (she
    must have had a trunk full of clothes), hair and makeup always perfect. She was just great and added a lot of spice to the atmosphere.

    Pity after the "Le Mans" debacle that McQueen lost his taste for racing. Even though he wasn't involved in top levels of
    sports car racing very long, he left an enduring legacy which will never be forgotten.

    BHW
     
  7. Turbopanzer

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    The sad part is that Steve McQueen gave most of us the passion for the sport at an early part of our lives that endures to this day. LeMans will always be my favorite movie and it certainly helped push me toward racing even with all of its problems, ego's and failures. I saw the movie 8 times and owed the video. Today it still remains "the" movie for hard core racers and fans. Nothing will ever replace it and certainly nothing has come close to truly displaying what racing was and is all about. I think it is his true legacy to those willing to understand what it takes to be a racer.
     
  8. lorenzobandini

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    I'll take Paul over Steve any day of the week. 'Prefer the man that "really" got into racing because of a movie (Winning) as opposed to a man who was "just" into racing and made a (very good) movie about it.....

    (honorable mention to James Garner and Patrick Dempsey...)
     
  9. F1tommy

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    Always liked "Lemans" , but liked "The Speed Merchants" even better. I talked to Michael Keyser several times about the filming and he said they had a lot more footage they cut. Would love to see a longer updated version, with more of the music written just for the movie. Back to Lemans, Steve McQueen was an interesting car guy and actor. The very poorly written script for Lemans killed it.
     
  10. BartonWorkman

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    It may well likely come down to where they came from.

    McQueen admits in the movie that he "Came from the gutter" and likely felt he had to prove himself
    at nearly everything he did.

    Neile Adams, McQueen's first wife, said in the documentary that doing "Le Mans" was his "seminal
    moment". And, as it was his first attempt at doing a major motion picture with his own production
    company, Solar, he not only brought his immense Hollywood star power but he was the boss for the first time and it all failed miserably in a very public way.

    Paul Newman, on the other hand, likely didn't come from that sort of background, got into racing as
    more of a hobby with nothing to prove. Newman was not only a driver but team owner with a good
    deal of success over his career.

    So, two diametrically opposed personalities coming into racing with very different motivations.

    BHW
     
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  11. lorenzobandini

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    I don't see the correlation 'twixt passion and background. Revson definitely was no pauper. I come from "the gutter" and my passion endures (in spite of the changes in the sport).... Either the interest is there or it isn't. I don't think one's financial status has anything to do with one's love of things.
    I don't see it in McQueen. A coupla' conversations with Paul, and one of his final days at Lime Rock in his 'Vette, cemented my awareness of his passion for his "hobby".... :)
     
  12. BartonWorkman

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    Not writing about passion. Everyone arrives at a certain passion through different avenues regardless of
    background.

    McQueen was into anything that went fast, cars, motorcycles, dune buggies, it didn't matter. In fact, his broken
    foot at Sebring in 1971 was the result of an injury he received doing a off road motorcycle race two weeks
    prior.

    More to do about how they're perceived in their own minds. McQueen, admitting he came from "the gutter"
    was something he readily admitted in the documentary. Growing up on a farm in Missouri, he stated in the
    documentary how he "Got out of there fast". He was always running and was consumed with proving himself
    to the racing community.

    Newman, on the other hand, had nothing to prove to anyone. Having met him a number of times, he was rather
    quiet and unassuming. He deflected attention away from himself to other drivers such as his co-drivers
    Michael Brockman and Bob Sharp.

    BHW
     
  13. the_stig

    the_stig F1 Rookie
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    Sometimes documentaries like this are best left unseen. Our heroes are revealed as mere mortals with all the failings that come along with that.
     
  14. BartonWorkman

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    I think, in this case, it's a story that Chad McQueen, Neile Adams and Keyser wanted to be told.

    In instances such as this, it's a cleansing process.

    BHW
     
  15. lorenzobandini

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    As "impressive" as your history lessons are, again, 'not necessary. You weren't writing about passion. I was. We're in agreement.
    Steve had a need to prove himself to others.
    Paul only needed to prove himself to one person. Himself. A man. The kind I like. ;)

    So one can remain in a fantasyland? To each his own. :)
     
  16. Turbopanzer

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    Introverts are like that. They focus on themselves and prefer quiet instead of the limelight. Met him at Mid-Ohio and he was simply a regular guy. I still think Steve did more for racing overall, regardless of the opinions of others. He certainly made people aware of the sport of endurance racing.
     

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