Tag Archives: Steve McQueen

The Monday Movie – What’s up, Doc?

When I was at primary school, some nuns came to visit one day and showed us the film this week’s classic scene comes from. True story. It was on a proper projector and everything, none of this new-fangled VCR or DVD nonsense.

The film is 1972’s What’s Up, Doc?, a screwball comedy produced, co-written and directed by Peter Bogdanovich. Conceived as an homage of sorts to classic American comedies from the 1930s, the film plays kind of like a cross between a Harold Lloyd film , a Warner Brothers Looney Tunes cartoon and the 1930 film Bringing Up Baby, its most obvious direct inspiration.

It stars Barbra Streisand, Ryan O’Neal and Madeleine Kahn as just three of the people caught up in a farcical, slapstick plot revolving around four identical tartan suitcases that get mixed up and the attempts by various individuals to either steal one or reclaim their own.

The big finale of the film is a brilliant car chase that takes place in the streets of San Francisco and which was designed as an elaborate spoof of the Steve McQueen car chase in Bullitt – but which is pretty impressive in its own right.


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A Word From Our Sponsors… Gene Kelly Drives A VW Golf

You may remember a few weeks ago that the featured ad in A Word From Our Sponsors… was the Steve McQueen Ford Puma commercial.

At the time, I mentioned that the idea of using/exploiting the image of dead celebrities to promote products seemed morally dubious to me.

This week’s advert – also for a car, in this case the Volkswagen Golf – falls into the same category.

From 2005, I think, it features some outstanding high-tech jiggery-pokery (stop me if I’m getting too technical here…) that transforms the late Gene Kelly‘s Singin’ In The Rain dance routine into a more hip and up-to-date body-popping, break-dancing routine.

The effect is undeniably amazing – although, maybe it’s just me, but there’s something slightly disturbing and spooky about how the digitally altered Kelly looks as his body contorts through the routine yet his head hardly moves and a grin is frozen on his face.

But amazing or not – is it right to use people’s image and reputation in this exploitative manner?

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A Word From Our Sponsors… Steve McQueen Drives A Puma

It’s not often that TV advertising raises interesting philosophical and metaphysical questions about the value of life and death… and the afterlife – but this week’s classic advert does just that.

What price your good name and reputation after you are gone, but not forgotten, when you can be bought and sold to the highest bidder?

And just where is the morality in securing an celebrity endorsement from a celebrity that has been dead for decades?

The use of Steve McQueen by Ford in TV adverts to launch their new coupe, the Puma, in Europe (the car was never released in the USA) in 1997 still makes me uneasy.

They took footage of him from the classic 1968 movie Bullitt, in which his character – police Lieutenant Frank Bullitt – drives a Ford Mustang, (about which more later) and blended it seamlessly with new-shot footage, in the style of the film, to put McQueen behind the wheel of a Puma.

Sure the advert was – and still is, 12 years later – a technical triumph that looks absolutely stunning. And yes, there’s no denying it brilliantly transposed at least a little of McQueen’s trademark cool image onto the car (the Choob must confess, he came very close to buying one eight or nine years ago).

But, to paraphrase Jeff Goldblum’s character in Jurassic Park, just because you can do something, does it mean you should? In this case at least, I’m not so sure. Advertising is, by its very nature manipulative and cynical, with no room for sentiment – but I can’t help thinking using (exploiting?) the dead in this way is a step too far.

Or maybe I’m just taking it all far too seriously. What do you think?

Here is a short (five-minute) but interesting “making of” video for the advert:

Whatever the moral rights and wrongs of the campaign, it was a great success and the Puma was a huge hit (and not just because of the advert – it was Top Gear‘s Car Of The Year in 1997).

The advert was so appreciated by Ford that they decided to revisit the concept a few years later when they were launching the 2005 Mustang onto the US market. Once again, they used footage of McQueen from Bullitt.

Rather than repeat the Puma advert trick of replacing the 1968 Mustang, this time with its 2005 counterpart (since the Puma was only sold in Europe, few Americans would have seen the Puma advert, so they could possibly have gotten away with it), they opted to instead play on McQueen’s love of motor racing, within a Field Of Dreams-type scenario:

Again, a great-looking and very clever ad. But…

Anyway, to round off this week’s A Word From Our Sponsors, let’s remind ourselves of what exactly it was that inspired that Puma ad in the first place – the original car chase from Bullitt, considered by many to be the best car chase of all time:


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Slumdog In Seven-th Heaven At The BAFTAs

After all the backs had been slapped and the endless emotional thank-yous delivered, the big winner at the Orange British Academy Film Awards last night was Slumdog Millionaire.

The acclaimed film picked up the coveted Best Film BAFTA and Danny Boyle scooped the Director’s award. It also took home the gongs for Adapted Screenplay, Music, Editing, Cinematography, Sound.

However, the Slumdog cast missed out on BAFTA glory, with Kate Winslet, who was nominated twice in the Leading Actress category, winning for her role in The Reader (at the expense of her performance in Revolutionary Road), while comeback king Mickey Rourke lifted the Leading Actor award for The Wrestler.

Rourke provided the acceptance speech highlight of the night when he thanked the film’s director Darren Aronofsky for giving him a second chance despite having “fucked up my career for 15 years. Such a pleasure to be here and be out of the darkness.”

Penelope Cruz was the Supporting Actress winner, for her role in Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona, and the late Heath Ledger picked up another posthumous award for his supporting turn as The Joker in The Dark Knight.

One little fly in the ointment for the Slumdog posse was their failure to win the Outstanding British Film award. In the one big surprise of the night, that award went to Man On Wire, a documentary about Frenchman Philippe Petite‘s 1974 tightrope walk between New York’s Twin Towers.

The closest anyone came to muscling in on Slumdog’s limelight was director David Fincher‘s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, starring Brad Pitt, which received three awards for its Production Design, Special Visual Effects and Makeup & Hair.

The full list of awards if as follows:

  • Best Film: Slumdog Millionaire
  • Outstanding British Film: Man On Wire
  • Director: Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
  • Leading Actor: Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler
  • Leading Actress:
    Kate Winslet,
    The Reader
  • Supporting Actor:
    Heath Ledger,
    The Dark Knight
  • Supporting Actress:
    Penélope Cruz,
    Vicky Cristina Barcelona
  • Original Screenplay:
    Martin McDonagh,
    In Bruges
  • Adapted Screenplay:
    Slumdog Millionaire
  • Animated Film: Wall-E
  • Film Not in the English Language:
    I’ve Loved You So Long
  • Music: A.R. Rahman, Slumdog Millionaire
  • Editing: Slumdog Millionaire
  • Cinematography: Slumdog Millionaire
  • Production Design: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • Costume Design: The Duchess
  • Sound: Slumdog Millionaire
  • Special Visual Effects: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • Makeup & Hair: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • Short Animation: Wallace & Gromit: A Matter of Loaf and Death
  • Short Film: September
  • The Carl Foreman Award (special achievement for first feature film): Steve McQueen, writer/director, Hunger
  • The Orange Rising Star Award (voted for by public):
    Noel Clarke
  • Academy Fellowship: Terry Gilliam
  • Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema:
    Pinewood Studios/Shepperton Studios

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