Going right back to the start of this thread -
Day of the Champion
Gil said "I've read more articles on McQueen's wanting to do a "racing," picture. Therefore, the script was a piecemeal cut and paste special."
Does anyone know more about McQueen's proposed movie that I'm sure was started before Grand Prix but aborted due to his (SM's) illness? I clearly remember turning up at Brabham's Byfleet workshops one day with a load of Goodyear tyres only to find the place full of characters wearing dark glasses (indoors) and drinking Coke. And one of them was definitely S McQueen. I was told that a movie was being planned and I assume that Brabhams were involved in supplying cars. Or perhaps SM just wanted to get some practice. Grand Prix was made in 1966; I'm sure my 'meeting' would have been sometime early in '65.
would have been Steve McQueen’s take on Grand Prix racing. A keen motor racing fan and talented amateur driver, McQueen wanted to make the definitive racing movie, which was to be directed by John Sturges from a script by Ken Purdy. Filming began in 1965 but it was a film that McQueen started and the studio stopped (though not until after a million feet of film had been shot)..
In the book Steve McQueen: A Tribute to the King of Cool
, Robert Relyea, who worked for McQueen’s Solar Productions, described the competition between John Frankenheimer/MGM and McQueen/Warner Bros to produce a movie about Grand Prix racing:
“No one in Hollywood wants to make a movie on the same subject, at the same time, as another studio – especially about racing. There might be enough of an audience for one film, but the market could not bear two. It became an ugly fight to see who could complete their film first.”
In her book My Husband, My Friend
, McQueen's wife included some insights into what happened:
“One morning Jim Garner called from L.A. with some aggravating news. As soon as I was assured that nothing had happened to our house (he was, after all, our next-door neighbor), I handed the phone to Steve. I sensed something was very wrong and when he bid Jim good-bye Steve stared straight ahead, not saying anything. I waited patiently for him to collect his thoughts. Then slowly and deliberately he said, "That fu*ker. He's just signed to do Grand Prix
. He wanted to tell me himself before I read about it or heard it from somebody else. How about that? You see, baby, you just cannot trust anybody in this business." (According to Robert Relyea, McQueen didn’t talk to Garner for nearly two years)
“Now, to make our scheduling problems worse, John Sturges arrived to discuss Day of the Champion
with Steve. The Sand Pebbles
was way over schedule. No one knew when the company would be moving on to the next location (Hong Kong), nor could anyone assess how long we would be there. In the light of these realities, the planned May start date for Day of the Champion
had to be pushed back. Even July was looking "iffy." So John zeroed in on August. But there had been an unscheduled run-in over the validity of the Sturges-McQueen contract with the Nurburgring auto racing course. The producers of the competing Grand Prix
, Ed Lewis-John Frankenheimer, had attempted to get an injunction against the Auto Club of Germany, with whom Sturges had a contract. However, the courts ruled the Sturges pact valid and twenty-seven reels of backgound film were released to John. To capture the track's atmosphere, Stirling Moss, now completely recovered from his near-fatal accident in 1962, drove a racing car with a camera mounted on top of it, traveling at speeds up to 175 miles per hour. The Nurburgring Grand Prix drew nearly 500,000 fans and was also covered by a helicopter."
"Steve could hardly wait. Whenever he talked about Day of the Champion
his eyes sparkled. He had found a kind of dignity in racing and the acceptance that had been given him by one of the toughest fraternities in the world was immensely satisfying. He was certain this epic would be the definitive film on motor racing. His hands were already itching for the wheels.”
Unfortunately, McQueen fell ill and the further delay proved fatal to Day of the Champion
. Grand Prix
won the race to open in cinemas and Warner Brothers pulled the plug. So, would it have been the best motor racing movie ever? I doubt we will ever see the abortive footage but if you have $500 to spare you can have a copy of the Ken Purdy script http://www.24heuresd...content.php/350
Edited by Amphicar, 07 March 2011 - 15:21.