Friday, 18 November 2011

Steve McQueen: The Actor And His Films

Steve McQueen: The Actor And His Films

The ever-greater number of McQueen books in the world just makes it easier to overlook the invaluable. Steve McQueen: The Actor And His Films adds weight to the expression lavishly illustrated and brings more to the party besides.

The book gives more space to say, The Sand Pebbles than Never Love A Stranger, as you'd expect, but it devotes a full chapter to each of McQueen's films: twenty-eight in chronological order from Somebody Up There Likes Me to The Hunter. It's a practical arrangement that lets you make your way easily through the man's life as well as his work. Yes, the book includes On Any Sunday. It's TV but it makes sense for Wanted: Dead Or Alive to have a chapter as well, and it does. Other chapters give an overview of his life and deal with further television appearances, his legacy and more. (Yes, Dixie Dynamite gets a mention.)

The Actor And His Films has more than a thousand photographs. More than a thousand rare, candid and promotional stills, vintage international posters and memorabilia. It also has more text than is usual for these lavishly illustrated affairs.

Each chapter gives film details such as cast, crew, release date and location. A summary follows and an "analysis of a key scene" ends the chapter. What's between the summary and scene analysis takes up most space, though. Here's where you'll learn about any deleted sequences and such, but moreover where you'll find the real-life backstory, and it's studded with previously unpublished nuggets.

You've probably concluded this is a big book. Let me tell you: it's about 500 pages, a seriously heavy fucker and thicker physically than David Beckham is mentally.

The authors hold sound credentials beyond extensive collections of McQueen memorabilia. Andrew Antoniades worked on Steve McQueen: The Life And Legend Of A Hollywood Icon, a book by Marshall Terrill, McQueen's best biographer. Mike Siegel is a film historian and director of Poetry & Passion, a documentary on Sam Peckinpah. The Actor And His Films is the work of natural fans rather than contrived academics, yet you get even-handed insight, a raw and fair evaluation of the man and his films.

The publisher, Dalton Watson, has been around for more than 40 years. The heart of the business is motor-related titles, but the company is responsible for a couple of other books directly relevant to us: composite biography Steve McQueen: A Tribute To The King Of Cool, compiled by Marshall Terrill, and Barbara's photo memoir The Last Mile.

Rare photographs, of course, mean rare perspectives on style. My intention was to make a shortlist of images, and then pick one from it to put in this post in addition to the cover. It was a long shortlist. I had rare colour photographs of McQueen in his jeans and Wrangler shirt from the set of Baby, The Rain Must Fall. McQueen in Louisiana for Nevada Smith, in a brown shawl collar cardigan. I had pictures with Playboy boots, I had one Bullitt shot in particular. I had more. However, my all-in-one printer refuses to do anything, even scan, until I satisfy it with an ink cartridge, so I'm afraid copyright law will remain intact.

You can buy from the Dalton Watson website (they deliver from the US and the UK), which is where you'll also find sample pages and further information including a book launch on 29 November, 1830-2030, at the McQueen bar in glittering London's Shoreditch. The book is £39/$69 from the publisher, but it's just available on Amazon and the price is currently £28. If you're in the US, your Amazon currently has it for $42. The release date says 15 December, but it seems in stock now.


  1. McQueen was THE MAN. Period. Hands down. THE FREAKIN' MAN :)

  2. Who made the jacket Steve McQueen wore in the "mugging scene" in the Thomas Crown Affair? See alot of information about the CVO's worn, but the blue zip jacket...who made this?