Steve McQueen, iconic American actor
Fall 1964, Carmel-by-the-Sea, California
Photographs by William Claxton
Happy birthday to Steve McQueen, born March 24, 1930, in Beach Grove, Indiana, then a small town of barely more than 3,500 people. By the age of eight, he had already received his first bike (well, a tricycle) and his first watch (a gold pocket watch from his uncle), two items that would become very important to his life and legacy. By the time McQueen died of cardiac arrest in November 1980, the “King of Cool” had cemented a place among the greatest American icons of screen and style through his performances in films like The Great Escape, Bullitt, and The Thomas Crown Affair, and his lifelong passion for racing and rebellion.
Jean-Pierre Cassel as Jean-François Jardie, dashing French pilot and resistance operative
France, Winter 1942
Film: Army of Shadows
(French title: L’armée des ombres)
Release Date: September 12, 1969
Director: Jean-Pierre Melville
Costume Designer: Colette Baudot
Jean-Pierre Melville’s 1969 French Resistance epic, released at a volatile time for France and the world at large, was barely seen by the rest of the world until decades later. Army of Shadows officially debuted in the United States in 2006 and quickly shot to the top of many critics’ “best of the year” lists.
Sam Neill as Sidney Reilly, shrewd anti-Bolshevik and former British agent
Long Island, Fall 1924
Series: Reilly: Ace of Spies
Episode: “The Trust” (Episode 10)
Air Date: November 2, 1983
Director: Martin Campbell
Costume Designer: Elizabeth Waller
Following his trial in absentia for plotting against the Bolsheviks during the Russian Revolution, British agent Sidney Reilly (Sam Neill) has been living in exile in New York, feverishly plotting an anti-Bolshevik invasion of Russia to be led by his comrade Boris Savinkov. Continue reading
Lee Marvin as Henry “Rico” Fardan, tough mercenary
Texas, January 1917
Film: The Professionals
Release Date: November 2, 1966
Director: Richard Brooks
Wardrobe Credit: Jack Martell
Written, produced, and directed by prolific auteur Richard Brooks, The Professionals depicts a band of mercenaries hired by rancher baron Joe Grant (Ralph Bellamy) to rescue his wife. Though it is often overlooked in the shadow of its “bigger” contemporaries like The Wild Bunch, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and Sergio Leone’s “Man With No Name” trilogy of spaghetti westerns, The Professionals was Columbia Pictures’ biggest hit of 1966.
Lee Marvin starred as Henry “Rico” Fardan, a cynical weapons specialist whose experience fighting under Pancho Villa’s command makes him invaluable to the team pursuing one of Villa’s former revolutionaries who supposedly kidnapped Grant’s wife Maria (Claudia Cardinale). Continue reading
Steve McQueen as Eric “the Kid” Stoner, hotshot poker player
New Orleans, Fall 1936
Film: The Cincinnati Kid
Release Date: October 15, 1965
Director: Norman Jewison
Costume Designer: Donfeld (Donald Lee Feld)
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
“King of Cool” Steve McQueen could also be called the king of the cardigan, considering his role in re-establishing the sweater as a functional and fashionable garment for young rebels rather than as the staid staple of TV dads like Ward Cleaver.
Both on and off screen, the shawl collar cardigan was a McQueen favorite. Continue reading
A lot of folks are bitching about the fact that summer’s over. Take it easy and throw on a cardigan.
Daniel Craig as James Bond, rogue but relaxed British secret agent
Talamone, Italy, September 2006
Film: Quantum of Solace
Release Date: October 31, 2008
Director: Marc Forster
Costume Designer: Louise Frogley
After pissing off his boss by killing a few folks in Austria, Bond goes off the map, going rogue for at least the third or fourth time in the series. His first stop is Villa Le Torre near Talamone, a Tuscan village where his old friend Mathis now resides in retirement with his Italian girlfriend Gemma. Brosnan’s Bond would’ve certainly (and unnecessarily) worn a suit for this occasion, but Craig’s Bond smartly wears a professional but indubitably casual cardigan and slacks for his apologetic visit. Continue reading
Steve McQueen as Lt. Frank Bullitt, renegade San Francisco inspector
San Francisco, Spring 1968
Release Date: October 17, 1968
Director: Peter Yates
Costume Designer: Theadora Van Runkle
McQueen’s character in Bullitt is often remembered for two things: his handling of the green fastback Mustang during the car chase and the iconic shooting jacket and rollneck jumper he wore. Just prior to that sequence, we see Bullitt pulling an all-nighter at the hospital after the fatal shooting of the witness his men were protecting.
Very realistically, McQueen/Bullitt shows up at the scene in a casual shirt and slacks with a high-fastening and thick cardigan over it. Continue reading