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Click on the title to get the juice...
The best homevideo option for this film is DVD.|
It is 16/9 enhanced for Widescreen TV's
and presented in the film's
Original Aspect Ratio of 2.35:1
The story is set against the backdrop of a fatal raceway accident the previous year.
Top American racer Michael Delaney (played by McQueen) returns to the Le Mans troubled by memories of his own near death and the death of a fellow racer.
|Making peace with dead racers wife.|
He must make peace with himself, the wife of the deceased racer, and at the same time, play to win.
The emotional story moves slowly, as Delaney reconnects with the people (Elga Andersen- playing the dead racer's widow), and the place (Le Mans), but the race will not accommodate human frailty, and as we see the vehicles soaring around the track at speeds of up to 200 miles per hour, we begin to understand the intense mental focus that each racer must maintain in order to stay alive.
|The film that bankrupted McQueen.|
|As a motor racing enthusiast (he could have turned pro on the motor car circuit),
Steve had long been dreaming of and planning to make the 'ultimate' car racing film.
That movie was Le Mans.
Steve's movie production company (Solar Productions) had made it's first film (Bullitt)
in the late 60's, and it was a huge success. This put Steve in a position to make Le Mans.
Solar got funding from CBS's movie wing Cinema Centre to the tune of 6 million dollars, and
Steve was to be paid 750 thousand plus a percentage of the profits. They hired many of the
BEST motor car racers in the world, and due to the success of Bullitt Steve also had virtually
TOTAL control of the film.|
Unfortulately problems plagued the film from very early on in filming (in France). The director (John Sturges) wanted the film to be a love story, with the Le Mans race as the 'background', but Steve wanted it to be more 'race' focused. Also, a lot of the footage Sturges shot of the real Le Mans race turned out to be unusable, so big budget problems suddenly arose, as it was obvious the film was going to run over the planned cost. The script was also still unfinished. Steve's Solar vice president (Robert Relyea) had a panic attack during filming in front of one of the financiers (Cinema Centre) employees, who rushed back to the USA and told his bosses that the production was in big trouble.
Cinema Centre swooped in on the production (they had not been involved in the filming process up till this point), and took over
completely. They shut the production down for two weeks (even giving Robert Redford a call to see if he would replace McQueen).
Cinema Centre considered shutting down the film completely, but eventually struck a deal with Steve in which he gave up his salary,
his percentage of profits, and his control of the film, in order to 'get it finished'. Not long after this Sturges quit (due to his
differences with Steve). They brought in a 'television' director to replace him. The film got finished 2 months later than planned
and 1.5 million over budget. One driver lost a leg during production, and Steve was nearly killed twice.|
After Le Mans was released in the US, Steve went bankrupt, his main Solar partners left the company, and Solar as a 'real' production company had folded. Also, his marriage to Neile was collapsing.
Le Mans did make money (19 million at the Box Office), but Steve never saw a cent of it.
In 'Steve McQueen: Portrait of an American Rebel', Marshall Terrill quotes Steve's comments to a reporter at the time: "It was a blood bath, that picture. It was the most dangerous thing I've ever done. I'm lucky I'm still alive".