Book Review: Steve McQueen: Portrait of An American Rebel by Marshall Terrill (1994 edition, Donald I. Fine)


Last night, I watched Tom Horn.

This western was the actor Steve McQueen’s second-to-last movie.  He died a few months after it was released in 1980 and McQueen looks frail throughout most of the movie.  Despite his obvious ill-health, McQueen still gave a strong performance as a real-life former frontier scout and cowboy who was executed for a crime that he probably did not commit.

After I watched the movie, I searched through my collection of film books until I found my copy of Marshall Terrill’s Steve McQueen: Portrait of an American Rebel.  Terrill’s book is one of my favorite actor biographies.  It covers all the details of McQueen’s underrated acting career and his turbulent personal life, including both the time he ran into the Manson Family and his relationship with Ali MacGraw.

Best of all, the book ends with a detailed list of every film that McQueen turned down over the course of his career.  After he appeared in The Towering Inferno, McQueen became very selective when it came to picking his film roles.  He was tired of just doing action movies and he also didn’t want to spend too much time apart from MacGraw.  Directors still wanted to work with McQueen but McQueen didn’t always want to work with him and, as a result, the movies that McQueen turned down make for a truly impressive list.

Here’s just a few of the films that McQueen was offered but turned down:

  • Breakfast at Tiffany’s (The George Peppard role would have been a rare intellectual role for McQueen)
  • Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (McQueen was the first choice for the Sundance Kid but he and Paul Newman could not agree on who would be billed first.  This same issue nearly kept them from working together in The Towering Inferno.)
  • The French Connection (The French Connection was greenlit due to the success of Bullitt so it’s not a surprise that McQueen was offered the role of Popeye Doyle.  McQueen, however, was tired of playing cops.)
  • Dirty Harry (Again, McQueen was tired of playing cops.)
  • The Great Gatsby (This film was originally envisioned as starring McQueen as Gatsby and Ali MacGraw as Daisy, both of whom would have been better cast in the roles than either Robert Redford or Mia Farrow.  As a former juvenile delinquent who became one of the richest men in Hollywood, McQueen was Jay Gatsby.)
  • Jaws (Spielberg considered McQueen for the role of Brody.)
  • The Driver (Ryan O’Neal was cast instead and gave a performance that was clearly influenced by McQueen’s style of cool)
  • A Bridge Too Far (Everyone who was anyone was offered a role in A Bridge Too Far.  McQueen was one of the few actors to turn it down and, as happened so often in his career, the role instead went to Robert Redford.)
  • The Gauntlet (This was originally envisioned as starring McQueen and Barbra Streisand.  It was eventually made with Clint Eastwood and Sondra Locke.)
  • Close Encounters of The Third Kind (McQueen turned down the role of Roy Neary because he didn’t feel that he could convincingly cry on screen.)
  • Sorcerer (William Friedkin later said that the biggest mistake of his career wasn’t fighting harder to get McQueen to star in his remake of The Wages of Fear.)
  • First Blood (McQueen was one of many stars considered for either Rambo or Sheriff Teasle before Sylvester Stallone came aboard.)
  • The Bodyguard (Famously, this was written for McQueen and Diana Ross.  It was eventually made with Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston)
  • The Cannonball Run (After McQueen turned down the project, the script was rewritten to play up comedy over action and Burt Reynolds was cast in the lead role.)
  • For me, the most intriguing project that McQueen turned down was Apocalypse Now.  McQueen was Francis Ford Coppola’s first choice for Capt. Willard but McQueen turned him down because he didn’t want to leave Ali MacGraw alone for the months that would be required to make the film.  Even after being turned down the first time, Coppola offered the role to McQueen twice more, once after firing Harvey Keitel and once after Martin Sheen’s heart attack.  When McQueen again refused to play Willard, Coppola tried to interest McQueen in playing Col. Kurtz.  While I think McQueen would have been a good Willard, I also believe he would have been a great Kurtz.  McQueen would have been more believable as a feared warrior than Marlon Brando.

And that’s just a few of the roles that McQueen turned down!  Terrill’s biography includes a comprehensive list.

Even after his death, McQueen has remained an icon of cool.  Damian Lewis plays him in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time In Hollywood.  I’m looking forward to seeing that movie this weekend.  I’m also looking forward to rereading Marshall Terrill’s biography of Steve McQueen.

Royal Flush: THE CINCINNATI KID (MGM 1965)


cracked rear viewer

There are movies about the high-stakes world of poker, and then there’s THE CINCINNATI KID. This gripping look at backroom gambling has long been a favorite of mine because of the high-powered all-star cast led by two acting icons from two separate generations – “The Epitome of Cool” Steve McQueen and “Original Gangster” Edward G. Robinson . The film was a breakthrough for director Norman Jewison, who went after this from lightweight fluff like 40 POUNDS OF TROUBLE and SEND ME NO FLOWERS to weightier material like IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT and THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR.

The film revolves around a poker showdown between up and coming young stud Eric Stoner, known as The Kid, and veteran Lancey Howard, venerated in card playing circles as The Man. This theme of young tyro vs old pro wasn’t exactly groundbreaking, having been hashed and rehashed in countless Westerns over the…

View original post 564 more words

Black Panther Dominates The Black Reel Nominations


The Black Reel Nominations were announced today, with Black Panther picking up a record 17 nominations!  Coming in second was If Beale Street Could Talk, which received 14 nominations while Spike Lee’s BlackKklansman received 11 nominations.

Here’s a full list of the nominees:

Outstanding Motion Picture
Black Panther
BlacKkKlansman
Green Book
If Beale Street Could Talk
Widows

Outstanding Actor
Chadwick Boseman | Black Panther
Stephan James | If Beale Street Could Talk
Michael B. Jordan | Creed II
LaKeith Stanfield | ​Sorry to Bother You
John David Washington | BlacKkKlansman

Outstanding Actress
Viola Davis | Widows
Regina Hall | Support the Girls
Kiki Layne | If Beale Street Could Talk
Zoe Renee | Jinn
Amandla Stenberg | ​The Hate U Give

Outstanding Director
Ryan Coogler | Black Panther
Barry Jenkins | If Beale Street Could Talk
Spike Lee | BlacKkKlansman
Steve McQueen | Widows
Boots Riley | ​Sorry to Bother You

Outstanding Supporting Actor
Mahershala Ali | Green Book
Brian Tyree Henry | If Beale Street Could Talk
Russell Hornsby | The Hate U Give
Michael B. Jordan | Black Panther
Daniel Kaluuya | Widows

Outstanding Supporting Actress
Danai Gurira | Black Panther
Regina King | If Beale Street Could Talk
Simone Missick | Jinn
Lupita Nyong’o | Black Panther
Letitia Wright | Black Panther

Outstanding Screenplay
Black Panther
BlacKkKlansman
If Beale Street Could Talk
​Sorry to Bother You
Widows

Outstanding Ensemble
Black Panther
BlacKkKlansman
If Beale Street Could Talk
​Sorry to Bother You
Widows

Outstanding Documentary
Amazing Grace
Hale County This Morning, This Evening
Minding the Gap
Quincy
Whitney

Outstanding Foreign Language/ World Cinema Motion Picture
Green Days by the River (Trinidad & Tobago)
Lionheart (Nigeria)
Rafiki (Kenya)
Vaya (South Africa)
Where Hands Touch (UK)

Outstanding Voice Performance
Mahershala Ali | Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Taraji P. Henson | Ralph Breaks the Internet
Brian Tyree Henry | Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Samuel L. Jackson | Incredibles 2
Shamiek Moore | Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Outstanding Score
Black Panther
BlacKkKlansman
Creed II
The Hate U Give
If Beale Street Could Talk

Outstanding Original Song
“All the Stars” (Black Panther) | Kendrick Lamar & SZA
“I’ll Fight” (RBG) | Jennifer Hudson
“Love Lies” (Love, Simon) | Khalid & Normani
“Pray For Me” (Black Panther) | The Weeknd & Kendrick Lamar
“We Won’t Move” (The Hate U Give) | Arlissa

Outstanding Independent Feature
A Boy. A Girl. A Dream.
Jinn
Monsters and Men
Roxanne Roxanne
Yardie

Outstanding Independent Documentary
Basquiat: Rage to Riches
Lorainne Hansberry: Sighted Eyes/ Feeling
Sammy Davis Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me

Outstanding Short
Funk Force | Desmond Levi Jackson
Hair Wolf | Mariama Diallo
Jump | Kofi Siriboe, director
The Tale of Four | Gabourey Sidibe, director
WTFIMH: What the F*ck Is Mental Health | Kofi Siriboe, director

Outstanding Emerging Director
Idris Elba | Yardie
Reinald Marcus Green | Monsters and Men
Rashida Jones | Quincy
Nijla Mu’min | Jinn
Boots Riley | ​Sorry to Bother You

Outstanding Breakthrough Performance, Male
Daveed Diggs | Blindspotting
Winston Duke | Black Panther
Donald Glover | Solo: A Star Wars Story
Brian Tyree Henry | If Beale Street Could Talk
John David Washington | BlacKkKlansman

Outstanding Breakthrough Performance, Female
Cynthia Erivo | Bad Times at the El Royale
Laura Harrier | BlacKkKlansman
Kiki Layne | If Beale Street Could Talk
Zoe Renee | Jinn
Letitia Wright | Black Panther

Outstanding First Screenplay
Blindspotting
Jinn
Monsters and Men
Roxanne Roxanne
Sorry to Bother You

Outstanding Cinematography
Black Panther
BlacKkKlansman
If Beale Street Could Talk
Widows
A Wrinkle In Time

Outstanding Costume Design
Black Panther
BlacKkKlansman
If Beale Street Could Talk
Sorry to Bother You
A Wrinkle In Time

Outstanding Production Design
Black Panther
BlacKkKlansman
Green Book
If Beale Street Could Talk
A Wrinkle In Time

Lisa’s Early Oscar For Predictions For August


It’s time once again for my monthly attempt to predict next year’s Oscar nominations!

As always, these predictions should be taken with a grain of salt.  BlackKklansman has emerged as a contender and there’s a few impressive trailers out there.  If the Academy goes through with this stupid Best Popular Film Oscar, I’m going to assume that’ll knock Black Panther out of contention for Best Picture.  For now, I’m going to hope that the backlash will cause the Academy to abandon the idea.

(For the record, it now appears that the whole Best Popular Film fiasco was due more to pressure from ABC than from actual members of the Academy.  And, let’s just be honest — Best Popular Film sounds just stupid enough to be the idea of a television executive.)

So, as usual, these nominations are a combination of wishful thinking, wild guesses, and sincere intuition.  If nothing else, they should be amusing to look back upon when the actual nominations are announced.

Be sure to check out my predictions for January, February, March, April, May, June, and July!

Best Picture

Beautiful Boy

Black Panther

BlackKklansman

Boy Erased

First Man

Green Book

If Beale Street Could Talk

Old Man and the Gun

Roma

Widows

Best Director

Damien Chazelle for First Man

Alfonso Cuaron for Roma

Barry Jenkins for If Beale Street Could Talk

Spike Lee for BlackKklasman

Steve McQueen for Widows

Best Actor

Christian Bale in Backseat

Steve Carell in Beautiful Boy

Ryan Gosling in First Man

Rami Malek in Bohemian Rhapsody

Robert Redford in Old Man and the Gun

Best Actress

Glenn Close in The Wife

Viola Davis in Widows

Felicity Jones in On The Basis of Sex

Keira Knightley in Colette 

Saoirse Ronan in Mary, Queen of Scots

Best Supporting Actor

Mahershala Ali in Green Book

Timothee Chalamet in Beautiful Boy

Russell Crowe in Boy Erased

Adam Driver in BlackKklansman

Michael B. Jordan in Black Panther

Best Supporting Actress

Claire Foy in First Man

Nicole Kidman in Boy Erased

Regina King in If Beale Street Could Talk

Margot Robbie in Mary, Queen of Scots

Sissy Spacek in Old Man and the Gun

 

Weekly Trailer Round-Up: Roma, Green Book, An Evening With Beverly Luff Linn, Widows, Killer Kate


In 2014, Alfonso Cuaron made history win he became the first Mexican filmmaker to win the Academy Award for Best Director, for his work on Gravity.  This year, Cuaron is back with Roma, a 135-minute film about a middle class family living in Mexico City in the 1970s.  Roma will be released on December 14th and its trailer leads off this week’s trailer round-up.

Directed by Peter Farrelly, Green Book, is based on the true story of Jamaican pianist Don Shirley’s tour of the deep south.  Serving as his chauffeur and bodyguard was a New York bouncer named Tony Lip.  Shirley is played by Mahershala Ali while Viggo Mortensen play the role of Lip.  (The real Tony Lip later became an actor and played Carmine Lupertazzi in The Sopranos).  Green Book will be released on November 21st.

Judging from the trailer, An Evening With Beverly Luff Linn appears to be a typical heist comedy, enlivened by the presence of Aubrey Plaza.  Prepare to spend an evening with Beverly when this film is released on October 19th.

Based on a BBC miniseries and featuring a killer cast, Steve McQueen’s Widows is one of the most anticipated movies of the fall.  Widows will be in theaters on November 16th.

Finally, Killer Kate will be released on October 26th, just in time for Halloween.

Lisa’s Early Oscar Predictions for June


We’re nearly halfway through 2018 and it’s time for me to once again post my somewhat random Oscar predictions!

As usual, these predictions are a combination of instinct or wishful thinking.  Do I really think that Orson Welles’s final film will dominate the Oscars?  Well, why not?  It’d be a great story if it happened.  The same goes for Black Panther becoming the first comic book movie to receive a best picture nomination.  It’d be nice if it happened and, with most of the contenders still unseen, there’s no reason to arbitrarily dismiss the film’s chances.

Based on the reaction that it received at Cannes, I’ve added Spike Lee’s BlackKklansman to my list of predicted best picture nominees.

As always, take these predictions with a grain of salt.  Some of these films and performers will be nominated.  (First Man, for instance, seems like a lock.)  Many of them will not.  If nothing else, my monthly predictions always seem to be useful for a good laugh in retrospect.  And there’s nothing wrong with that!  The predictions that don’t come true are often even more fun than the predictions that do.

It should also be remembered that some of the films listed below don’t even set release dates yet.  Some of them might not even open this year.  There are other films — like Burden — that seems like they should be contenders but they’ve yet to get a distributor.  And then there’s Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman, which is scheduled to be released by Netflix in 2019 but it’s always possible that film could be moved up on the schedule.  If The Irishman does get a last-minute December release, chances are that the Oscar race will be dramatically altered.

Or maybe not.  Remember how Silence was a front runner all through 2016, just to end up with one nomination?  It’s hard to predict which films will have “that Barton Fink feeling.”

(Yes, I’m currently watching Barton Fink.  Thinking about the Oscars will enjoying a film from the Coen Brothers?  Life is good, as my twitter girl crush often puts it.)

Please be sure to check out my predictions for January, February, March, April, and May.

Best Picture

BlackKklansman

Black Panther

Boy Erased

First Man

If Beale Street Could Talk

Mary, Queen of Scots

The Other Side of the Wind

A Star is Born

White Boy Rick

Widows

Best Director

Damien Chazelle for First Man

Barry Jenkins for If Beale Street Could Talk

Spike Lee for BlackKklansman

Steve McQueen for Widows

Orson Welles for The Other Side of the Wind

Best Actor

Steve Carell in Beautiful Boy

Bradley Cooper in A Star is Born

Willem DaFoe in At Eternity’s Gate

Ryan Gosling in First Man

Robert Redford in The Old Man & The Gun

Best Actress

Viola Davis in Widows

Felicity Jones in On The Basis of Sex

Melissa McCarthy in Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Chloe Grace Moretz in The Miseducation of Cameron Post

Saoirse Ronan in Mary, Queen of Scots

Best Supporting Actor

Timothee Chalamet in Beautiful Boy

Russell Crowe in Boy Erased

Adam Driver in BlackKklansman

Sam Elliott in A Star is Born

Michael B. Jordan in Black Panther

Best Supporting Actress

Claire Foy in First Man

Nicole Kidman in Boy Erased

Regina King in If Beale Street Could Talk

Margot Robbie in Mary, Queen of Scots

Sissy Space in The Old Man & The Gun

Here’s The Trailer For Steve McQueen’s Widows!


Widows is one of those films that I’ve been looking forward to seeing since I first read about it.  Based on a BBC miniseries and featuring an amazingly talented cast, Widows is also director Steve McQueen’s first film since the Oscar-winning 12 Years A Slave.

The film deals with four women whose husbands are all killed during a failed heist.  The widows, under the leadership of Viola Davis, join together to pull off the heist themselves.  That may not sound like a typical Oscar movie but Widows has got tremendous buzz.  Plus, you’ve got a cast that’s full of past Oscar nominees and winners (Viola Davis, Robert Duvall, Daniel Kaluuya, Jacki Weaver, Liam Neeson) and actors who seem to be destined to be nominated some day (Colin Farrell, Michelle Rodriguez, Andre Holland, Carrie Coon, Garrett Dillahunt).  All in all, there’s a lot of reasons to get excited for this one!

Here’s the trailer: