Called “The King of Cool,” Steve McQueen was a top box-office draw of the 1960’s and 1970’s. His combination of movie star looks, love of action, combative style and his steely-eyed calm stare made women want to be with him and men want to emulate him. Originally aired in the summer of 2014 on Spike TV, I Am Steve McQueen was produced by McQueen Racing, which in turn, was founded by Steve’s oldest son Chad. The documentary examines the actor’s professional and personal lives, aided by comments from family friends, colleagues and i

Narrated by Robert Downey, Jr., anybody looking for a real expose on Steve McQueen is likely going to be disappointed. Everything is strictly positive and no one offers up any dirt on the actor. We’ve all had moments of failure, or done something we regret, so it feels somewhat incomplete. Even so, the film proves to be quite inspiring. Born in 1930 Indiana, the child of alcoholics, McQueen says in a long ago interview, he came from “a crappy existence.” Moving around from home to home, issues with petty theft landed him in Boys Republic, a place to which he would return for inspirational talks after becoming a star.

Later, he joined the Marine Corps, which gave his life some structure. With the assistance of the G.I. Bill, McQueen began taking acting classes in New York City that would give him a career. His big break came in 1958, when he was cast as bounty hunter Josh Randall in the Western “Wanted: Dead or Alive,” a CBS hit from 1958 to 1961. That success led to a supporting role in Frank Sinatra’s Never So Few (1959) and despite a few duds here and there, McQueen was officially on his way to movie stardom with films such as The Great Escape, The Cincinnati Kid, The Sand Pebbles, The Thomas Crown Affair, Bullitt, The Getaway, Papillon and The Towering Inferno.

McQueen was known for his explosive fits of temper, often walking off sets and not playing nice with his co-stars. While some might see these as negative character traits, here they are seen as strengths; Steve McQueen was just a man in search of perfection. Also well documented is the actor’s love of cars, which I found quite engaging. There’s an unmistakable connection made between his love for speed and his desire to get the most out of every moment. It’s almost as if, because of his troubled youth, he always wanted a fast car nearby, in case he needed to make a quick getaway. Even at the height of his stardom, there were signs that Steve McQueen was plagued by insecurity.

Gone to soon at fifty as a result of mesothelioma, I Am Steve McQueen is hardly a definitive biography and doesn’t cover a lot of new ground, but it’s a nice retrospective about a man who rose from the bottom to become one of the most admired personalities in the history of Hollywood.

Presented in the 1.78:1 aspect ratio, this 1080p transfer is fairly consistent with its initial television airing. There are several different film sources and photographs of varying quality used throughout. In terms of the recent interviews, colors are vibrant and consistent, with a nice level of film grain. The detail is also good, whether it be the stubble of chad McQueen’s beard, or wrinkles on Ali MacGraw’s forehead.

The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless track is very nice, particularly when it comes to the roar of the cars and motorcycles. Dialogue is consistent and the film clips sound fine. The directional effects aren’t that strong, but it’s not too much of a detriment for a track like this.

English subtitles are included.

The following extras are available:

  • McQueen’s Garage (HD, 15:50) A look at some of the cars in Steve’s life. Some of this footage appears in the film, but much of it was cut.
  • Yucatan (HD, 4:48) Chad provides a look at a film that his dad scripted and storyboarded but never filmed. Apparently, Robert Downey, Jr is interested in producing it.
  • Trailer (HD, 1:10) The original trailer for I Am Steve McQueen.