The feud between John Sturges and McQueen was tragic...he had made McQueen a star in Magnificent Seven and The Great Escape. However, McQueen's long-delayed plans to bring a racing movie to the screen culminated in the ill-conceived Le Mans. The two old friends feuded over the film's concept. After Sturges quit the project, "B" movie director Lee H. Katzen took over. The film was one of the few outright bombs of McQueen's career, consisting mostly of footage of speeding cars and virtually no plot. (Thanks to Cinema Retro contributing writer Steve Saragossi for sharing this rare photo).
From Suspense Movies.com
The Career of John Sturges by Steve Badger
Perhaps due to the blue-collar workmanship of his films, no director ever made as many enduringly popular movies as John Sturges while being largely forgotten himself. Rarely has an artist ever made such popular body of work while making himself as anonymous as possible. No "look at me, I'm a director" touches. The movies occur. Stories of beauty and substance are told well. Just for that accomplishment alone, John Sturges deserves to be remembered as one of America's greatest filmmakers. The Great Escape (1963). Simply THE World War II prison camp movie, which says a lot. Several stars Sturges' uses time and again are here, including Steve McQueen. First Sturges made McQueen a star. Then he made him a superstar. Finally, in The Great Escape, Sturges made McQueen a film icon. Based on the true story of the largest escape from a German prison camp during the war, Sturges conveys the triumph of the human spirit in the meticulous escape planning, the ingenious details, the courageous escapees, the ultimate tragedy -- and even the disillusionment of the non-Nazi Germans. It has equals, but you can't make a better movie.
The Magnificent Seven (1960). While this is a remake of Kurosawa's Seven Samurai and is set in Mexico, in many ways it is the archetype American film. The near-perfect mix of story, music, personalities, pacing and visuals hits on every cylinder. When the peasants offer gunman-for-hire Yul Brynner the combined fortune of everything in the village, Brynner replies: "I've been offered a lot when I work... but never everything." Likewise, this film has everything. While some elements may seem cliched today, this is the film that made those cliches. James Coburn and Robert Vaughn became movie stars, and Steve McQueen became a superstar: "I never rode shotgun on a hearse before."
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