happy birthday to the king of cool

Steve McQueen

“I’ll never be as good an actor as I want to be. But I’ll be good.” ~Steve McQueen

A little over a month ago, I didn’t understand what was so special about Steve McQueen.  I’d seen him in only one role – as the surly, taciturn Reese in Hell Is For Heroes – and he hadn’t made much of a good impression on me.  And then I watched The Great Escape and The Magnificent Seven and those two films changed my opinion of McQueen entirely.  Not to mention Wanted: Dead or Alive, a show that is one of the wonderful, nearly forgotten gems of 60’s television.  Now it’s not like I have a major crush on Steve McQueen  or anything like that (one of the main reasons I never idolize actors or actresses is because if you start digging into their past, you usually find out they’ve done some pretty rotten things), but he is a fantastic actor, and I don’t see anything wrong with acknowledging that fact.  I don’t have much time today for writing a blog post, so I’ll just be sharing a few favorite pictures/video clips that I’ve rounded up in my browsing this last month.

After all, to use an old cliché, a picture is worth a thousand words.

(This bit never fails to put a grin on my face.)

Steve McQueen, Horst Buchholz, and James Coburn on the set of The Magnificent Seven.

(“I took a job in a grocery store. Fella says I’ll make a crackerjack clerk. Crackerjack.”)

I love this picture. 🙂


As Josh Randall.

(This just might be my favorite scene in the whole film.)

Production still from The Great Escape

(This is mostly Chris’ scene, but it’s the little things Vin does in the background that make all the difference.) 

Now I’m off to watch some of those clips I just shared with all of you, along with watching Wanted: Dead or Alive later on tonight with my sister.  Because nothing is better than watching Steve McQueen play a lonely, honourable bounty hunter with a sense of humour and an impossibly epic scatter gun. (I wasn’t able to embed the video of the Season 1 opening credits, but if you’re a McQueen fan, you need to at least watch that, if not a full episode or two.  The way he rips the poster off the window and then glares at the camera? *faints*)

(Fun fact: Today is also the anniversary of the real Great Escape.  How cool is that?)


P.S. I’d like to point out that the theme for The Great Escape not only fits the movie perfectly, but also Hilts’ character and, by extension, Steve McQueen himself.

P.P.S. Read this post.  It’s beautiful.

4 thoughts on “happy birthday to the king of cool

Add yours

  1. Learning to enjoy an actor’s work (or writer’s or singer’s, or any other artist’s) without letting their personal life distract you… it’s so tough, isn’t it? I still grapple with that. That’s one thing I dislike about social media — it’s almost too easy to access celebrities. I want to enjoy your movies, I don’t want to know what you think about Starbucks or politics or how many kids is too many kids.

    I’d read many years ago that McQueen became a Christian, but it didn’t have much more info on that. So thanks for linking to Yankee Gospel Girl’s post! That was amazing. (And thanks, YGG, for writing it!)


  2. Hellooooo, and thank you for the very kind shout-out. 😀 I really like your blog! Thank you for providing a little green nook of the interwebs for us classic movie fans to leave our lovely ramblings.

    You’re quite right and very wise about idolizing movie actors. Truthfully, as a real-life human being, Steve McQueen was pretty vile. Before his first wife ever married him, she already had a mutual friend who was saying, “Stay away from that guy, you’re really gonna regret it if you get married!” But that was why I found the story of his conversion so striking. It’s really not talked about too much. I was watching a documentary, and his son mentioned that he began “going to church” while living in Ventura, and this piqued my interest. There were a couple other places on the Internet that just gave a thumbnail sketch, but I did a little of my own digging to verify a few things and give a bit more detail. I even made contact with Leonard DeWitt himself! If you can find a copy of Steve McQueen: The Final Chapter, that’s a good one. It really gives you a window into how McQueen grew and changed after his conversion. It wasn’t perfect, and his understanding was still being shaped on, shall we say, moral issues, but it makes it clear that his conversion was definitely not just a one-off thing. It truly did transform him.


    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed my blog. 🙂 I only recently (the last few months or so) became entranced by old Hollywood movies/actors/actresses, so this is still pretty new to me, but I’m glad I’m able to add something to the conversation. 🙂 Thanks for your comment, too – it always makes my day when I get a new one, especially a lovely long one like yours.

      I’ve heard of Steve McQueen: The Final Chapter – I’ll to see if my library has it. I know they have about three other biographies of him, but since I’m positive those would be chock-full of bad language and details of his wild lifestyle, I won’t be checking them out any time soon (if ever).


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