on 21 January 2014
Author Richard Sydenham is to be highly commended for what is a true labor of love as evidenced in this 619-page tome. His hefty STEVE MCQUEEN: THE COOLER KING is a richly rewarding collection of remembrances and anecdotes from scores of people who knew and worked with the King of Cool, all seamlessly woven together by author Sydenham who painstakingly did the actual interviewing of the vast majority of those whose stories are told within the book. The focus is stated in the subtitle: HIS LIFE THROUGH HIS MOVIE CAREER. Therefore, this is neither strict biography nor an analysis and critique of the actor's cinematic oeuvre. It is, instead, a bit of both. It is truly what it says it is - an accounting of McQueen's life as lived during the making of his many movies. It is written and compiled by a true fan for other true fans of this always amazing actor.
Much is to be learned herein. Despite his appellation as the King of Cool, the truth is that McQueen as man and actor was oftener than not an up-tight fellow. Insecure about everything from his acting to his height, with some wild mood swings thrown in for good measure, he was nevertheless an actor who was much more versatile than typically given credit for. Yes, he was the ultimate in cool astride his motorcycle as he blazed his way to greatness in THE GREAT ESCAPE, but watch him try to commandeer his bomber in THE WAR LOVER as both the plane and he are coming apart. That's acting! Or compare THE SAND PEBBLES' Jake Holman to HELL IS FOR HEROES' Rees and see two military men, yes, but worlds apart in character. Kubrick said that McQueen's portrayal in HELL IS FOR HEROES was the best portrait he'd ever seen of a truly alienated soldier. I agree. And even though he is older than he should be in THE BLOB, he is absolutely believable in every single scene! And despite naysayers, I think he was wonderful in SOLDIER IN THE RAIN and AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE. Anyway, I'm a fan, always have been - and this book with its beautifully designed cover and immensely interesting content is a must-have for anyone and everyone who digs or will dig the King of Cool.
on 15 September 2015
The contemporary celebrity status tag is randomly applied to anybody who has had two minutes of fame or one minute of infamy! However, when it comes to a real legend the life and times of Hollywood icon Steve McQueen (1930-1980) genuinely merit credit. Steve McQueen: The Cooler King is a Big Star Creations publication written by Richard Sydenham. This 600 page plus text examines 28 McQueen movies plus 100 interviews provide insight in to the personal and professional activities surrounding these celluloid releases.
Steve was a juvenile delinquent with a rocky family background and it’s amazing that from this background he reached the heights of global glory. As the text unfolds it is clear that McQueen was a ball of contradiction. This renowned force could terrorise and treat his peers with disrespect but many acquaintances observed a funny, warm, talented and inviting soul; he could be mean but he also showed great acts of generosity; long term friendships were formed but many people were shunned by a sully demeanour that did not allow any close contact; mostly at home with ordinary folk and not the glitterati this stance did not stop a desire to sit on a pedestal with acting royalty; his family meant everything to him but the thrill of the female form led to a series of break ups and affairs; short tempered but considerate, awkward but affectionate a complex being unravels.
However, star quality aplenty and a Midas screen presence places McQueen as a performer who did not need words to put over a message or a mood. Probably, happier motorbiking, racing cars or piloting a plane Steve was at ease with characters that dallied with speed and danger. McQueen did things his way and he did not care about risks!
A perfectionist at the challenges that lay ahead it was a shame that at the age of 50 it was cancer that took for a man whose major box office successes included: The Magnificent Seven, The Great Escape, The Cincinnati Kid, The Thomas Crown Affair, Bullitt, The Getaway, Papillon and The Towering Inferno.
McQueen admitted he was ‘better walking than talking’ but he had an uncanny knack of turning the ordinary in to the extraordinary. Steve McQueen defined cool and this book does a fine job in exploring a guy who many women wanted to be with and numerous men wanted to be.
on 6 January 2014
I have to be honest and say that I know the author of this book, and bought the book on this basis alone. I also was not really a Steve McQueen fan. However, on reading it from cover to cover, I enjoyed it so much I didn't want it to end. I feel that I now have a real insight into the actor, and found the interviews with people who knew him fascinating. This is not your average run of the mill biography. It is so much more. Please take a look at this book and judge for yourself. This is a must for anyone with an interest in Steve McQueen and his movies. Having some knowledge now of the background of each of his films has inspired me to start watching his films again!