From The New York Daily News
7 Reasons Steve McQueen was Magnificent
'The Thomas Crown  Affair'
There was more to Steve McQueen (1930-80) than image, as proven by a new documentary, "Steve McQueen: The Essence of Cool," which airs Wednesday on Turner Classic Movies. In films like "The Great Escape" (1963), "Bullitt" (1968), "The Thomas Crown Affair" (1968) and "The Getaway" (1972), McQueen put a rebellious '60s spin on the old-fashioned Hollywood tough guy.

Already 30 when he leaped from TV's "Wanted: Dead or Alive" to 1960's "The Magnificent Seven," McQueen effortlessly embodied the charisma of the solitary, rugged male hero. Here's how:

1. He made action films dramatic. "Escape," "Bullitt," and "Getaway" were more about motion than emotion, but McQueen was the cog all the excitement spun around.

2. He made drama seem action-packed. "Thomas Crown," "The Sand Pebbles" (1966, his sole Oscar nomination, for Best Supporting Actor) and "Tom Horn" (1980) were filled with quiet moments, but McQueen always looked like he was ready to explode. You can see the tension in his blue eyes.

3. He walked the walk. Sure, a lot of stars act tough, but McQueen was the real deal - surviving reform school and the merchant marines, racing motorcycles. He even joined the circus when he was a kid.

4. He wasn't afraid of small roles. In "Never So Few" (1959), "The Magnificent Seven" and "The Towering Inferno" (1974), McQueen made an impact in very little time. Note to today's actors: It's not how long you're on screen, it's what you do when you get there.

5. He was physical but thoughtful. "Escape" and "Papillon" (1973) show this. In the first, McQueen had to outwit and outrace Nazis; in the second, he's a prisoner on Devil's Island obsessed with freedom. In each of them, McQueen merges brains and brawn, and survives because he understands both.

6. He looked good in a suit ... but rarely wore one. Which is partly why "Thomas Crown" feels like an invitation-only event.

7. He let his leading actresses shine. In the movies, he treated some well; others he slapped. But McQueen knew that a good screen pairing was about chemistry, no matter how combustible.

Joe Neumaier