Steve McQueen at the wheel of a Lotus 30 shooting some of the million feet of unused footage for this cancelled movie…
John Frankenheimer and MGM were in a race with Steve McQueen and Warner Bros to make a movie with Grand Prix racing as its theme.
John Sturges was the Director of Day of The Champion, filming of footage, using many cars specifically acquired for the purpose commenced in 1965.
‘The Sand Pebbles’ in which McQueen starred, and for which he received his only Academy Award Nomination ran over time, delaying the production of ‘Day of The Champion’, his Hollywood neighbour James Garner played the lead role in ‘Grand Prix’, the iconic 1966 F1 movie and a huge commercial success, beating ‘Day of a Champion’ into the cinemas.
The pin was pulled on the “Day of The Champion’, there was no value in two similar movies appearing at about the same time.
McQueen didn’t speak to Garner for over two years…but came back with a vengeance in ‘Le Mans’, not much of a story, a commercial flop but a sensational racing movie!
John Sturges famously quit ‘Le Mans’ after arguments with McQueen who wanted a documentary style ‘slice of racing life’ film, Sturges equally adamant that a strong story line was essential for commercial success…’I’m too old and rich to put up with this shit’ was his parting line.
‘Le Mans’ was completed, after running hopelessly over budget, but only after Steve tipped his acting fee and forfeited his gross in the films takings to fund it…
But what a movie!