Best Car Movies List

Le Mans (1971)

Directed by Lee H. Katzin. Starring Steve McQueen.

Le Mans is a 1971 film depicting a fictional 24 Hours of Le Mans auto race. It was filmed on the Le Mans circuit between June and November 1970. The movie features racing footage captured during the 1970 Le Mans race.

McQueen was as much a race car driver as he was an actor. In 1970 he finished second at the 12 Hours of Sebring race in Florida. This race is considered preparation for the 24 Hours of Le Mans race.

McQueen was passionate about racing and he wanted to capture that passion in the film.

This movie is so much about the racing experience that no actor speaks a scripted line for the first 37 minutes.

Le Mans should have been a masterpiece. McQueen had his own production company and had full control of the movie.

However, that control led to chaos. They were filming without a script. When they did have a script McQueen would constantly challenge it. His director finally quit out of frustration. At one point the studio threatened to pull funding. Filming stopped for two weeks, but resumed in order to finish the movie. At this point, McQueen backed off.

The mood of the entire crew turned sour. On the last day of filming there was no party or celebration. Everybody just walked away.

Clearly, McQueen was not mature enough to bring his passion project to perfection. However, he did what he set out to do - convey the passion, and reality of racing to an audience. He truly avoided making Le Mans a Hollywood film, at high cost, personally, professionally, and financially.

McQueen didn't go to the premiere of Le Mans, and he never raced in a car again.

Le Mans remains popular today as a historically accurate depiction of its era.

The best quote from the movie: "Racing is life. Anything that happens before or after is just waiting." -Delaney, McQueen's character in the movie.

Le Mans makes it into the "Best Car Movies" canon due to its historic value and intense effort by McQueen to attempt to make the most epic racing movie of all time.