By: John Allen
You may be cool, but you will never be Steve McQueen cool. Your movie may be cool, but is it The Great Escape starring Steve McQueen cool? Good question. To find the answer we only need to look at the Documentary film From filmmaker and film historian Chris Espenan, The Coolest Guy Movie Ever.
We are taken on a Cinephile journey, back in time, to 1962 Bavaria, and the filming of The Great Escape. This Hollywood classic resonates with film lovers everywhere, with its hip cast of Tinseltown heavy weights and authentic location settings, no detail was spared in the making of this time honored treasure. Surprisingly The Great Escape was not nominated for Best Motion Picture at the subsequent Academy Awards, nor were any of the cast. In fact, the only nomination it received was for Film Editing, and that prize went to Harold F. Cress for How The West Was Won. Yet, in a 2006 UK poll; The Great Escape placed third as the family movie most television viewers would like to watch on Christmas Day, and first place among the male viewers. It has been parodied by countless television shows and movies, perhaps most memorably by Chicken Run, Hogans Hero’s, and The Simpsons (can anyone really forget baby Maggie and her cohorts trying to free their soothers, while held captive in the Ann Rynd School for Tots in Season fours A Street Car Named Marge?).
So, with all of its popularity, why was it snubbed come award season? You know, what? It doesn’t matter. Hollywood just sometimes gets things wrong. The Coolest Guy Movie Ever, like Steve McQueen, just doesn’t give a F- about any of that. Instead it is a love letter to a tremendous motion picture. It takes us to the locations of the film, which have changed very little in the fifty plus years since its release, and explores the character of the film, the suaveness of its lead, and offers insights into the challenges of the movie making experience in a time when CGI just did not exist.
The Documentary includes interviews from people who were there, people who lived in the area and witnessed the action, and sourced interviews from the late James Garner, and James Coburn who co-starred with McQueen in The Great Escape. We tag along on the journey of the film makers as they search out the locations, and review the iconic scenes, most notably the motorcycle jump by Hilts, culminating the stories climax. They offer us insight into the character of the actors and a taste of just what makes Steve McQueen the King of cool.
Over all I found the documentary interesting and intriguing. As a film buff myself, I enjoy and appreciate these behind the scenes look stories. The Coolest Guy Movie Ever feels a little bit more like an Extra found on a (where are we now 4K HD, God Technology I can’t keep up) home video, but that is not a bad thing, especially given its short running time of just around one hour. I can easily see me gathering the guys, settling in to view The Great Escape, then watching this gem from Virgil Films as a bonus feature. The Coolest Guy Movie Ever is pretty cool in its own right and I highly recommend it to fellow movie lovers.
4 out of 5 McQueens
The Coolest Guy Movie Ever comes to DVD and digital HD from Virgil Films on August 21, 2018