Steve McQueen: The Essence of Cool–Docu of Movie Star

The magic of Steve McQueen, Hollywood’s legendary rebel star, who defined the essence of coolness onscreen and off, is celebrated in this special DVD collection.

Steve McQueen: The Essence of Cool is a new documentary, premiering June 1 on Turner Classic Movies, with interviews from Neile Adams (McQueen’s first wife), Richard Attenborough, Norman Jewison, Chad McQueen (his son), Peter Yates, Barbara Minty (McQueen’s widow) and others.

The five other films included in the Collection are: The Getaway, Papillon and new-to-DVD titles The Cincinnati Kid, Never So Few, and Tom Horn. DVD special features include perceptive commentaries from directors Norman Jewison and Peter Yates, archival footage, and new documentaries.

McQueen maintained the image of the coolest guy, an alluring and inscrutable man of few words who projected masculinity that men identified with and women were captivated by. But under the faade of cool, there was always a sense of decency and integrityAmerican-style.

Once quoted as saying, “I live for myself and I answer to nobody,” McQueen represented a new type of movie star, who played by his own rules and lived by his own moral code. McQueen’s charm and powerful screen presence made him a legendary leading man and one of Hollywood’s biggest box-office draws in the 1960s and 1970s. The public loved the breakneck speed with which he drove motorcycles and fast cars and the way he did his own stunts.

McQueen first began acting in 1952, when he enrolled at Sanford Meisner’s Neighborhood Playhouse in New York City. After making an impression in a number of small off-Broadway productions, McQueen was accepted into the Actor’s Studio and in 1956, he made his film debut with a bit part in Somebody Up There Likes Me, which starred Paul Newman. Two years later, McQueen scored his first starring film role in the sci-fi cult film The Blob, but it was his role in the TV series Wanted: Dead or Alive that brought him to stardom.

McQueen became one of Hollywood’s most bankable leading men and starred in a long string of box-office successes, which included, in addition to the titles in the Collection, The Magnificent Seven, The Great Escape and The Thomas Crown Affair.

During the next decade, McQueen starred in several films, achieving varying degrees of commercial success. After 1978, McQueen appeared in only two films before taking ill with lung cancer. He died of heart attack in 1980, at the age of 50, shortly after undergoing lung surgery.

Bullitt (1968)

In one of his most famous roles, McQueen stars as tough-guy police detective Frank Bullitt, assigned for 48 hours to watch a witness before his trial. However, when the witness and another officer are shot, Bullitt decides to investigate the case on his own, much to the dismay of an ambitious Senator (Robert Vaughn) who wants to shut the investigation down, hindering Bullitt’s plan to bring the killers to justice. Robert Duvall and Jacqueline Bisset also star in the film, which contains one of the most exciting car chases in film, which won the 1969 Oscar for Editing.

DISC 1: Commentary by director Peter Yates and the theatrical trailer

DISC 2: Two Feature-Length Documentaries: Steve McQueen: The Essence of Cool From filmmaker Mimi Freedman, this docu uncovers the complex man behind the image, based on testimonies from people who knew him and extensive use of film and TV clips. Another featurette is: Bullitt: Steve McQueen’s Commitment to Reality

The Cincinnati Kid (1965)

McQueen is an up-and-coming poker player in New Orleans who takes on a long-time master of the game. Not only is there a small fortune at stake, but also the status of being the top player. But the game is compromised when the trusted dealer is blackmailed into fixing the outcome. Directed by Norman Jewison, the film also stars Edward G. Robinson, Karl Malden, Ann-Margret and Tuesday Weld.

Considered one of the best poker movies ever made, The Cincinnati Kid is poised to find a whole new audience due to the soaring popularity of poker today. With more than 50 million poker players in America and five cable networks airing poker tournaments throughout the year, poker has become America’s newest pastime and continues to attract new players.

DVD Special Features include:

Commentary by director Norman Jewison
Scene specific commentary with David Foley and Phil Gordon, the hosts of Bravo’s “Celebrity Poker Showdown”
Archival featurette “The Cincinnati Kid Plays According to Hoyle”

The Getaway (1972)

McQueen plays a bank robber whose wife makes a deal with a Texas politician to have her husband released from prison in return for a percentage from their next big heist. But when the plan goes sour, the couple must flee to Mexico as fast as they can, with a variety of gun-wielding thugs on their trail. Ali MacGraw, Sally Struthers and Al Lettieri also star in this crime thriller directed by Sam Peckinpah (The Wild Bunch).

DVD Special Features include:

Commentary by DVD Producer Nick Redman, authors Paul Seydor, Garner Simmons and David Weddle
“Virtual” audio commentary with stills featuring Steve McQueen, Ali MacGraw and Sam Peckinpah; Trailer

Papillon (1973)

The autobiography of Henri Charriere, one of the few people ever to successfully escape from the notorious French penal colony of Devil’s Island, served as the basis for Papillon. McQueen plays the pugnacious Charriere (known as “Papillon,” or “butterfly,” because of a prominent tattoo), who is wrongly convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison. Directed by Franklin J. Schaffner (Patton), the film also stars Dustin Hoffman as a fellow convict.

Never So Few (1959)

Captain Tom Reynolds (Frank Sinatra) and his band of skilled O.S.S. operatives are in World War II Burma to train the Kachin natives in modern warfare. But jungle combat is more grueling than Reynolds imagined, and after Chinese rebels cross the border to loot and murder American soldiers, Reynolds abandons all notions of “military protocol” and seeks requital. McQueen co-stars alongside Charles Bronson and Peter Lawford.

Tom Horn (1980)

McQueen’s last film, in which he plays Tom Horn, a renowned former army scout, hired by Wyoming cattle ranchers to put a stop to violence on the range. In the process, Tom finds himself accused of murder. Linda Evans and Richard Farnsworth also star.

DVD Special Features include:

Commentary by director Peter Yates and the Theatrical Trailer