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Steve McQueen - Photographs by William Claxton

Review by Jack Foley

FOR many film fans, Steve McQueen represents the epitome of cool. Even in death, he remains an icon for the youth of today and his appeal is as unwavering now as it was in his heyday, when the actor was starring in films such as Bullitt, The Great Escape, The Thomas Crown Affair and Papillon.

Steve McQueen, by his long-time friend William Claxton (an acclaimed photographer best known for his photos of the LA and New York Jazz scene in the late 40s), is as compelling an insight into the private life of the star as anything which has appeared so far and a genuine must have for any fan.

Featuring over 100 black and white and colour images of the star at the beginning of his movie career in the 1960s, this is a fascinating insight into the life of a man who has been described as maverick, a rebel, a tough guy, a loner, a daredevil and a "US original’’.

Packed with anecdotes and memories from Claxton, the book also features some breathtaking action shots of McQueen with his motorcycle buddies (he liked to race Triumphs in the desert), in his fast cars, and with his leading ladies and fellow actors.

But the book is not just about McQueen the rebel, it also features McQueen at his most sensitive and personal, casting light on a wonderful sense of humour and his perfectionism. Many of the photographs have never been published before, so fans won’t feel short-changed, even if the price seems a little high.

And if the photos aren’t enough, then there are the anecdotes, featuring stories of how McQueen used to abuse cars by driving them around until they were virtually broken.

On one occasion, he pushed a vehicle so far that it caught fire while he and Claxton were still behind the wheel, forcing them to jump from it before it exploded.

Steve McQueen is one of those books which just keeps getting better (nearly every photo would make a classic poster), and it would make an ideal present for any fan.

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