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"Le Mans" (1971)


joefilmone
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It's clear to see why this movie failed at the box office- apart from Steve McQueen could you really tell any of the other character's apart? And did you care ? All the documentary like footage about the race was interesting but the fictional story was boring.

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I was huge fan of McQueen after having had enjoyed him on his TV western and viewing "The Magnificent Seven" at the age of twelve. Even met and spoke with him in San Antonio in 1972 while I was stationed at Fort Sam and he was filming "The Getaway".

But ''Le Mans" was Steve's ultimate crash and burn. He and John Stuges had earlier planned a race film but were aced out by Frankenheimer and James Garner with "Grand Prix". They regrouped and after the success of "Bullitt" decided to deliver a day in a racer's life. But Steve's drug use and infedelity had caused a marital breakup and he emerged into a paranoid narcissist. Sturges bailed, McQueen split with producing partner Bob Relyea, and the filming limped to its conclusion with substitutes.

The result is what Joefilmone accurately describes and questions.

What a waste.

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  • 1 year later...

I saw the film Grand Prix first and had never heard of Le Mans (film) until many years after. I really like Grand Prix and have no trouble watching it in it's entirety whenever it is shown, but Le Mans bores me to tears. I find it ironic that McQueen had turned down the starring role in Grand Prix, which I believe was a much better vehicle and would have succeeded even if a no-name had starred in that role.

 

Perhaps McQueen was too close to his project, focused on making a driver's movie. I'm sure it played out beautifully in his head but not many others appreciated the references and detail.

 

Just as when musicians listen to other's music, they feel and hear and appreciate the almost imperceptible nuances that 99% of other listeners have no idea exist. Well, I believe that's how Steve related to this project.

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Not much of a story but I love the sights and sounds of the incredible race machines.  Hearing the throaty whines and growls and roars of the full-on power engines accelerating and shifting gives me goosebumps.  The slow motion crash and destruction of the airborne Ferrari is something to behold.  A good movie for a racing fan to watch just for the decades ago action.  A time when fans could be much closer to the action and drivers than they can be today.

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