Book Review: Santa, Baby

Andrew Antoniades

Santa, Baby

Steve McQueen: The Actor and His Films

by Andrew Antoniades and Mike Siegel
Dalton Watson Fine Books, 492 pp., $69

He is the "king of cool," one of cinema's great rebel outsiders. He looks sensational in Western chaps and military uniforms, racing helmets and well-tailored suits. He might be bare-chested or wearing tattered prison garb or a fire chief's heavy jacket. He is Steve McQueen, and though he died in 1980, he remains an enduring icon of raw, American masculinity.

Can more than 1,000 pictures do an icon justice? That's the fond hope of the publisher of this handsomely designed, oversized volume that catalogs the movie star's film career. Dalton Watson Fine Books is a British publisher of art books about automotive-related subjects, though Steve McQueen: The Actor and His Films is a product of the company's Icons division, an offshoot of its Motoring division. And, certainly, the most iconic image of McQueen's acting career is the picture of the prisoner of war he played in The Great Escape soaring to freedom over a barbed-wire fence on a Triumph motorcycle. Add McQueen's famous love of motorbikes to his passion and skill as a race-car driver (and the films Bullitt and Le Mans that serve as testaments to his fanaticism), and it's understandable why Dalton Watson views him as an icon. Looking over its catalog, however, it's instantly noticeable that this is not the first but rather the third book on McQueen from this publisher. At this rate, Dalton Watson will soon have to open an Obsessions division.

Joking aside, Steve McQueen: The Actor and His Films does the screen idol justice. The book's 790 photographs are supplemented by another 230 illustrations taken from posters and lobby cards, all reproduced with immaculate care. The text, by avowed McQueen fans Andrew Antoniades and Mike Siegel, is know-ledgeable and thorough. The material repeats information culled from other biographical sources but arranges it in a film-by-film chronology. (Apart from Wanted: Dead or Alive, McQueen's television career is overlooked by this volume – but maybe that's being held in abeyance for a fourth McQueen bio from Dalton Watson.) Chapters at the beginning and end offer a biographical overview and reflections on the star's legacy, but these chapters serve mostly as refreshers. They won't provide any new insights for McQueen loyalists, who will nevertheless luxuriate in this marvelous collection of images.

More to feed your celebrity fetish: Then Again by Diane Keaton (Random House, $26); The Garner Files: A Memoir by James Garner and Jon Winokur (Simon & Schuster, $25.99); Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling (Crown Archetype, $25); God, If You're Not Up There, I'm F*cked: Tales of Stand-Up, Saturday Night Live, and Other Mind-Altering Mayhem by Darrell Hammond (HarperCollins, $25.99)

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More gift guide
Gifts to Make You Look Away From Your Screens
Gifts to Make You Look Away From Your Screens
Plenty of films to read about this holiday season

The Screens Staff, Dec. 6, 2019

Holiday Gifts for Fans of the Big and Small Screen
Holiday Gifts for Fans of the Big and Small Screen
From essential box sets to writers’ wisdom: stocking fillers and the gifts that keep on giving for your watching pleasure

Richard Whittaker, Dec. 7, 2018

More Screens Reviews
What If the Marx Brothers Got Around to Making That Movie With Salvador Dalí?
What If the Marx Brothers Got Around to Making That Movie With Salvador Dalí?
Josh Frank brings the legendary unproduced movie to printed life

Wayne Alan Brenner, March 22, 2019

What If <i>The Texas Chain Saw Massacre</i> Was Really About the Horrors of Modern American Society?
What If The Texas Chain Saw Massacre Was Really About the Horrors of Modern American Society?
Putting the Austin-made seminal slasher back into context

Marc Savlov, March 22, 2019

More by Marjorie Baumgarten
The Way I See It
Portrait of presidential photographer Pete Souza has depth but lacks focus

Sept. 18, 2020

Our Time Machine
Stunning documentary about puppetry, art, Alzhiemer's, and a son's love

Sept. 11, 2020


gift guide, Book, Dalton Watson Fine Books, Steve McQueen

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle