It’s not every day you encounter previously unseen footage of one of the world’s greatest film stars and his ambition to achieve his ultimate goal – and what a touching experience it was.
Steve McQueen, an American actor known for his ‘anti-hero’ persona and star-roles in Bullitt, The Great Escape and The Magnificent Seven, was an avid motorsport enthusiast, who was desperate to compete at Le Mans.
Known as the ‘King of Cool’ and one of the ‘most charismatic stars of his generation’, McQueen’s passion was cursed with drama and difficulties from the off, costing him so much in the pursuit of his dream, which he admirably saw through to the very end.
His struggle was brought to life once more in the 2015 documentary film Steve McQueen: The Man and Le Mans, which members were able to enjoy a private viewing of at the Pall Mall clubhouse on Thursday 18 May, with the film’s Executive Producer, Andrew Marriott.
Ahead of the film, guests heard from Marriott, and Archive Producer Richard Wiseman, during a question and answer session with motorsport broadcaster Henry Hope-Frost, gaining a personal insight into what it was like to uncover the full story behind a legendary name and produce such a heart-wrenching film.
Marriott explained: ‘Eddie Jordan once said that going into Formula 1 was like entering a world of piranhas – I can tell you that is exactly what it’s like going to Hollywood!
‘I had the Steve McQueen idea buzzing around my head for quite some time and when I read the book, “A French Kiss of Death”, I thought, “there’s a film in this”.’
He added: ‘After his Le Mans experience, McQueen was never seen racing a car or motorcycle again and we wanted to cover every aspect of his life – including his death and love of motorsport.’
During Wiseman’s interview, we were surprised to learn that the original film – almost 400 rolls of footage – discovered in Los Angeles, did not include audio.
‘Our expert sound editor cleverly pieced the moving images with reproduced sound, and if you watch very carefully, it’s incredible how he managed to achieve this, almost seamlessly,’ he explained.
Hope-Frost claimed: ‘If the B16 doesn’t sound like a B16, I’m going to kick off!’
Thankfully for us, the audio was spot-on!
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