Steve McQueen : A Biography (Marc Eliot, 2012)
First, I must thank the fine folks over at Three Rivers Press that sent me a bunch of great movie/ movie stars related books. It took me a while getting to read those books, because I’m such a slow reader. But I got around it and it revealed an actor that was more or less stuck between the 1950’s and the 1960’s Marlon Brando and Paul Newman.
McQueen was a Method actor and wanted to get a hold on his life and career just like Clint Eastwood did with his Malpasso company. However, McQueen was a broken man and from the star the had struggles with life, drugs, alcohol, women.
Not being such a big fan of the actor I wasn’t really into the man either. Having seen him in classics like The Magnificent Seven and The Great Escape, and bits of Bullitt, I can’t say I was really well informed about his career.
Marc Eliot’s biography is an honest try at a very traditional version of the thing and very poor one if you ask me. Well, if you are reading those lines you probably want to know my opinion. You’ll get it anyway. While not citing much of his sources, Eliot writes a contemptuous and judgmental piece that seems to be more of a defence to Steve’s first wife than actually a recalling of this iconic man. It also feels like he likes to put a stain on the memory of the man. It is probably written in the same spirit that Peter Biskind’s shocking but very entertaining Easy Rider’s Raging Bull’s biography of the 1970’s with lots of sordid details of the lives of the fathers of the second golden age of Hollywood.
All in all, I was somewhat happy to learn more about McQueen’s career but I can say that I would not count on that to learn about his personal life. I kind of think that biographers like to show sides of people that will make the sells go high and concentrate on infidelities, drug abuse, and their faults.
Overall note : C