Continuing on our ’70s theme, Steve McQueen’s effortless cool defined the decade, and his passion for racing combined with his success as a film star allowed him to work on his own personal cinematic tribute to automotive competition. A labour of love for him (and frustration for many others), the result was 1971′s epic Le Mans: one of the all time great racing films – up there with John Frankenheimer’s Grand Prix from 1966. But whereas Grand Prix included a more traditional romantic plot and set of characters, Le Mans was brutally raw. McQueen’s main driver, Michael Delaney, says little during the entire film and nothing at all until 36 minutes in. Dialogue in general is scarce. He lets the cars do the talking.
The start scene is a case in point, and still sends shivers down my spine. You see the main cars: Porsche 917s, Ferrari 512s. You see the drivers and their preparations. McQueen almost caressing his steering wheel, officials unfurling flags, visors coming down… But you hear nothing. No sound at all.
Then as the clock ticks down you hear the staccato beat of a heart, increasing in tempo as 4pm approaches… Fingers flicker near starters, spectators crane forward for a better view… The heartbeat gets quicker, louder… And then the clock strikes 4pm, the flag drops and all hell is unleashed on track. It’s automotive perfection.
Watch this clip, then buy the film, sit back and revel in McQueen’s unbridled passion. It’s the kind of film that’s unlikely to ever be made again. Perhaps only Rush will come close?
This movie is epically perfect. I love the fact that there's all of 20 words in the entire script. Definitely shows how much of a car guy Steve McQueen was.
Such a brilliant film. Not one for the average movie-goer or even casual car/motorsport fan, but for anyone passionate about racing this film ticks all the boxes in a way that no other film has ever matched (in my opinion). Real racing cars filmed at racing speeds on argubaly the most iconic racing track in the world: and no CG! (And personal bias. it includes the Porsche 917, one of the greatest looking racing cars of all time in my opinion)
The wife hates whenever this is on. I sit staring at the television, a small river of drool coming from the corner of my mouth. She claims she could dance naked in front of me and I wouldn't notice. She is almost right... almost. I would at least tell her to get out of the way...
Love this film, although the lack of dialogue early on can throw some people, but like a piece of music without some stupid tart yodeling over top of it, you can feel the emotion they put into this movie.
Great, now I have to go out and buy this film (and convince my anti-auto racing wife this will make a great evening of viewing). I seen this back in the late Seventies (my friends and I made a long weekend of watching car movies: Grand Prix, Le Mans, On Any Sunday, Gone In 60 Seconds (original of course), Vanishing Point....Good times
@Gomez85 Ha, be sure its the original Gone in 60 Seconds!