Steve McQueen - The Great Escape

The Great Escape is one of those films which was not truly appreciated in its own time, winning a solitary oscar for film editing. Seen nowadays as a classic, it has elements in it that can never be mastered; from Elmer Bernstein's classic, cheeky little score, to the huge ensemble cast of some of the biggest names in Hollywood. From Richard Attenborough (Jurassic Park, Elizabeth), James Coburn (The Magnificent Seven, Afflicted), James Garner (Space Cowboys) to Charles Bronson (Deathwish), Donald Pleasance (Bond's famous Blofeld) and the late, great King of Cool, Steve McQueen (recently voted the toughest man in Hollywood by Total Film magazine) and star of other such classics as 'Bullit' and 'The Thomas Crown Affair'. This film helped to forge many a notable career, but it is McQueen, with the help of the motorcycle jump scene, that profits most from the film, being transformed from a relative unknown to the coolest man in Hollywood and a cultural icon almost overnight. The Great Escape is now rightfully viewed as one of the best war films ever made, mixing comedy, suspense and cool into one, this is a must see.

His peers have called him one of the best actors in film history and McQueen's films are considered classics. Movies such as The Great Escape, The Sand Pebbles, (for which he received an Academy Award nomination), Nevada Smith, Bullitt (which became the basis for police action movies and to this day has the most exciting car chase ever filmed), The Getaway (where he met his second wife, actress Ali McGraw), Papillon, and many others.

Some facts about Steve McQueen:

  • Was diagnosed with a form of lung cancer, mesothelioma, which is related to asbestos exposure. Steve McQueen wore an asbestos-insulated racers suit in his race cars, and possibly was exposed to the harmful insulating material during his stint in the Marines. 
  • Ashes scattered in the Pacific Ocean. 
  • Was a pallbearer at the funeral of actor (and his martial arts instructor) Bruce Lee.