Way back when Wednesday: Steve McQueen comes to St. Louis
The Great St. Louis Bank Robbery is a 1959 heist film shot in black and white. The film stars a 28-year old Steve McQueen as a college dropout hired to be the getaway driver in a bank robbery. The film is based on a 1953 bank robbery attempt of Southwest Bank in St. Louis.
It was filmed on location in south St. Louis in 1959 and for anyone who grew up here, it is a fascinating movie, which captures a moment in time, that is gone, gone, gone.
I watched it one Friday afternoon at work–“previewing” it for a film course at school–and my assistant (who is from South St. Louis) and I had so much fun pointing out landmarks–
Tower Grove Park! Magnolia Avenue! The Southtown Famous Barr!
We wondered where the bar was where Steve goes and drinks a Budweiser.
Well, it’s a small world really.
You want to know how small? The film was directed by Charles Guggenheim, who was a neighbor of ours on Westgate Avenue for awhile back in the 1960s before he got famous and won three Oscars for documentary films. His daughter Gracie was a friend of my dual personality. (Actually I don’t think my sister liked Gracie too much, but they got invited to the same birthday parties.) Be that as it may, the point is that there really are/were six degrees of separation between me and old Steve McQueen.
Anyway, Guggenheim’s switch to documentaries was a good move on his part. This movie is not very good, despite Steve’s
best efforts trying really hard. Who knew he would become such a star? No one who saw this movie. (Don’t worry, I thought he was terrific!) But I do recommend it to anyone from St. Louis. It is a hoot and a half. You can find the entire film on YouTube.