Our Top 4 of Steve McQueen films gives you all sides of the man who defined “cool” because these films give you all of his sides - romantic, comedic, dramatic and of course, his daredevil side. McQueen did not just invent an attitude, he was a well-rounded actor too, which makes him legendary.
1. “The Great Escape” (1963), stars McQueen with James Gardner. The film is based on a true story about an escape by Allied prisoners from a German POW camp during World War II. Unlike many films which depict war with nitty gritty suspense and drama, “The Great Escape” is surprisingly light on its feet. It doesn't rock you to the edge of your seat with the details of POW camp horrors but rather with its intrigue and slow, somewhat claustrophobic, build to the brigade's great escape. Though McQueen gets top billing, he doesn't necessarily hog the most screen time but rather shares it with his comrades. The iconic motorcycle chase through the open countryside, however, does make this movie one of the daredevil's best; it is something you surely don't want to miss!
2. “The Thomas Crown Affair” (1968) Ever thought how Steve McQueen would have made a great James Bond? Of course in this film, McQueen plays “Thomas Crown,” a billionaire gentleman-thief who has his own network of people to carry out the dirty work for him, but he does it all in style. And under Norman Jewison’s direction, the film has its James Bond thriller appeal to the look and style. There are well-known stories that McQueen and Faye Dunaway did not get along, so much as that McQueen referred to her as “Face Dunaway,” but the tense chemistry is perfect for their characters as Dunaway plays “Vicky Anderson,” the insurance investigator who suspects him as the mastermind behind the bank robbery.
3. “Love With A Proper Stranger” (1963) McQueen co-stars with Natalie Wood in this romantic drama about the consequences of a brief affair between Angie, a Macy’s salesclerk, and Rocky, a musician. The film dealt with back-alley abortions and pre-marital sex – risque issues for the time, especially at the beginning of the Sexual Revolution and Women’s Rights. And in the midst of bringing these issues to the forefront, the film has its layers of drama and comedy which McQueen is able to effortlessly portray with Wood. Especially in the dinner scene which takes place in Angie’s apartment where both characters are trying to have a nice dinner while trying to keep their hands off of each other - it’s a scene that is both hilarious and romantic. As a testament to both of the actors abilities, Wood and McQueen received Golden Globe nominations for their performances, and Wood getting an Academy Award nod as well. “Love With A Proper Stranger” makes our list because it is an underrated and rarely-mentioned classic, for not just McQueen, but for Wood as well.
4. “The Blob” (1958) definitely does not give us one of McQueen’s more serious films but it should be mentioned nonetheless because it’s a cult classic. He may have not thought much of the project, opting for cold-hard cash over the royalties, but when McQueen tells you a piece of slow-moving astro-jelly could potentially take over the town, you believe him!