LE MANS (1971)

Dir. Lee H. Katzin

Steve McQueen's dream project, a near-documentary look at the experience of racecar drivers involved in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, nearly cost him everything. The accomplished driver had come in second at Sebring in 1970. Although he was denied permission to compete at Le Mans, his Porsche 908 did, with three cameras recording the action. The team then reassembled on the famous track to shoot more footage, with 25 Porsche 917s and Ferrari 512s driven by an impressive array of championship racers. McQueen's insistence on a less-Hollywood approach led to his firing director John Sturges, who had made him a star in The Magnificent Seven (1960). When the film ran over schedule, he forfeited creative control along with his salary and profit participation to finish it. The results were spectacular, and the film is still viewed as the most accurate film about the sport. Its eschewal of dialogue, with only 145 lines in the script about a driver returning to the game after a fatal crash the year before, was far ahead of its time.

In attendance: Chad McQueen, Derek Bell, Vic Elford.

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LE MANS
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