Flight documentaries: “Steve McQueen: The Man & Le Mans.”


Nine hour flights home from Italy are a bummer. You can read, nap and drink as many free adult beverages as they’ll keep feeding you, but that’s about all.

The good news is that these days, the in-flight entertainment offers more options than ever before. The bad news: Most of these options include the usual array of wretched mass market films and television series.

On our most recent flight from Rome in November, at least there were a few good documentary films on tap. They paired well with cans of a beer I’d never expect to see on an international flight: SweetWater 420 Extra Pale Ale. Corporate larceny or not, it was a welcome change from the usual Heineken.

The first of four:

Steve McQueen: The Man & Le Mans

The film focuses on the time when film star Steve McQueen tried to take control of his career. After the success of Bullitt and The Thomas Crown Affair, McQueen sought to pursue his dream of creating a film about his passion: race-car driving. The result, Le Mans, was a box-office flop.

The documentary details the making of the film. In his personal life, McQueen was a man’s man, with the positives and negatives this characterization implies, and he was not the most admirable of human beings altogether. I have no interest in racing of any format, the motorized versions of which obsessed the actor. Still, I found the documentary riveting, if not pretty, and it’s not necessary to be a racing fan to appreciate an explication of how someone does something.

Viewing portals include Hulu, and probably the usual gateways like Netflix and Amazon.

Documentary blog