Skip to Content

Steve McQueen Movies Ranked from Worst to Best

Steve McQueen Movies Ranked from Worst to Best

Throughout his career, Terence Steven “Steve” McQueen was significantly involved in 26 different films that more than earned him his moniker as “The King of Cool.” While his lowest rated movie is still above five stars on IMDB and over 50% on Rotten Tomatoes, a man that makes that many movies is bound to have some wide ranging quality. Here are all 26 Steve McQueen movies ranked from worst to best.

26. Never Love a Stranger

This is not a great movie. With a whopping 5.4 rating on IMDB Never Love a Stranger barely even qualifies as an “ok” movie. Despite the fact that almost every aspect of this film was poorly executed, it was baby-faced McQueen’s first major movie role. Link

25. Never So Few

Frank Sinatra, Steve McQueen, Peter Lawford and Charles Bronson are part of an undercover commando squad dropped in to Burma to deal with the Japanese during WW2. Even with that cast and John Sturges directing they couldn’t prevent this movie from becoming the steaming pile of crap that it is. With a whopping 33% audience score and no official Tomatometer rating it’s safe to say the Internet agrees. This movie never should have been made. Link

24. The Hunter

The Hunter was the last film that McQueen was involved in, and it’s widely considered to be one of his worst. We’d pan everything from the ridiculous action to the completely absurd script, but Roger Ebert took care of the commentary pretty well when he said that it’s “one of those awful movies catering to a star’s ego and image.” Skip it. Link

23. The Great St. Louis Bank Robbery

Based on the attempted bank robbery of the Southwest Bank in St. Louis in 1953 and starring some of the same locals and bank employees that were present for the attempt, The Great St. Louis Bank Robbery is a heist film that puts McQueen front and center as the getaway driver. Overall it’s a very middling film that’s most suited for die hard McQueen fans. Link

22. Baby the Rain Must Fall

McQueen is a musician that was just paroled and is about to be reunited with his wife, Lee Remick, and the daughter he’s never met. It’s a melodramatic adaptation of a Horton Foote play that’s certainly not terrible, but it’s not really all that great. If there’s one particularly notable aspect of this film it’s the Wrangler denim shirt McQueen wore that would go on to be one of the most iconic shirts in history. Link

21. The War Lover

What a surprise, Steve McQueen in a WWII era role as a dare-devil with a death wish. There’s action! There’s adventure! There’s a love triangle! And of course there’s plenty of McQueen being McQueen as he plays the part of the universally disliked but often relied upon Buzz Rickson. It’s not McQueen’s best work or even a particularly gripping film, but it’s worth one hundred minutes of your time if for no reason other than the fact that it’s a McQueen movie you’ve probably never heard of. Link

20. The Honeymoon Machine

Aboard the USS Elmira is a smart computer originally designed to predict where missiles are going to land as part of a project code-named “Operation Honeymoon.” Lt. Ferguson “Fergie” Howard, played by McQueen, comes up with the brilliant idea to re-purpose the computer to figure out where a roulette ball will land on the wheel. Unexpected hilarity ensues. The Honeymoon Machine is another unheard of McQueen film that’s actually worth watching. Link

19. The Reivers

Based on the Pulitzer Prize winning novel by William Faulkner, The Reivers is an adventure tale about a young boy (Mitch Vogel) who gets talked into taking the family ride on a series of adventures by two older friends (McQueen and Rupert Crosse). Even though it can be lighthearted at times, the film tackles difficult issues like race, vice and violence, which is why it went on to multiple award nominations including a Golden Globe for McQueen’s performance as the rapscallion Boon Hogganbeck. Link

18. Nevada Smith

In this flick McQueen plays a half white and half Indian boy on a revenge quest to settle the score with the three people that killed his parents. Is it too long? Absolutely. Is McQueen too old for the role? Probably. Is it a weird prequel to The Carpetbaggers released after the original? Undoubtedly. And while Rotten Tomatoes might think it’s not worth watching we still think it’s a pretty good film for McQueen fans despite its flaws. Link

17. Tom Horn

Based on the real life story of Old West scout Tom Horn, this movie is considered by some to be one of the last great westerns ever made. The movie still has its flaws in a lack of direction and a sick McQueen, but it’s a great example of what’s possible in the genre, especially for big fans of McQueen. Link

16. An Enemy of the People

In what is probably his most uncharacteristically McQueen role—and the reason the studio pulled after its original release—The King of Cool plays a local doctor fighting against pollution and corruption in a small Norwegian town. Based on an Arthur Miller adaptation of a play by Henrik Ibsen, it’s a unique look at what McQueen is capable of in a serious role. After more than three decades of being the “missing McQueen,” it’s also finally available for rent online. Thanks, Internet. Link

15. Soldier in the Rain

Despite relatively middling reviews compared to his other works, Soldier in the Rain is an art house classic that pairs McQueen with the always hilarious Jackie Gleason in a comedy about two army buddies planning for their lives after the service. Through all the escapades, brawls and schemes, the chemistry between McQueen and Gleason shines through in this sentimental deep cut that most people haven’t seen. Link

14. The Blob

The Blob is one of the most awesomely bad B-movie horror flicks ever created, but it just so happens to be the vehicle that turned Steven McQueen into the man that would influence wardrobe decisions and car purchases long after his death. Meteor crashes to Earth. Goo comes out of meteor. Goo grows to become the Blob as it eats people. It’s ridiculous and dated, but all things considered, satisfyingly cheesy. We wouldn’t skip the Netflix cue for it, but it’s worth watching if you like campy Sci-Fi classics. Link

13. Le Mans

When Le Mans gets panned by critics it’s generally because it focuses on racing at the expense of story, but that’s exactly why we love this film so damn much. Who doesn’t want to watch McQueen perfectly cast as the driver of that iconic Porsche 917 during the equally iconic Le Mans race? No one we want to be friends with. It’s a pure racing film for guys that love cars. Link

12. Junior Bonner

If there was one actor we’d pick to do a film that’s as much character study as it is rodeo or western, it would be the classically manly Steve McQueen. As the title character, McQueen returns home after a long period away and briefly reunites his broken family through rodeo. Unlike other McQueen or Peckinpah films, Junior Bonner is a leisurely stroll through family drama and character development against the backdrop of rodeo as opposed to being inherently violent or action-packed. Link

11. The Thomas Crown Affair

Steve McQueen, Faye Dunaway and Paul Burke star in Norman Jewison’s version of Alan Trustman’s written work about a debonair gentleman stealing famous works of art while matching wits with an equally impressive lady on the other side of the law. If the story seems familiar it’s because Pierce Brosnan and Rene Russo recreated the film in the late 90’s, and there’s another modern version in the works now. Trust us when we tell you that, like most things, the original is better. Link

10. Hell Is for Heroes

“The biggest acre of hell in the world! With a bigger human story! And a cast as big as their glory! The true story of one heroic place called… ‘Murder Ridge.'” In what is one of the best war films ever made, McQueen’s naturally bad ass persona fills the shoes of a G.I. forced to rejoin his unit on a swathe of the Siegfried Line after recently being demoted to private on account of too much drinking. Filmed in black and white without access to the special effects that would power future films like Saving Private Ryan, Hell is for Heroes is a gritty WWII drama filled with fantastic performances and even better direction. Link

9. The Towering Inferno

McQueen’s largest box office hit, this is a disaster flick that centers around the world’s tallest building catching fire during the dedication and becoming, you guessed it, a towering inferno. The film stars McQueen as the San Francisco Fire Department Battalion Chief alongside Paul Newman as the architect, and an all-star cast that also includes William Holden, Fred Astaire, Faye Dunaway and even O.J. Simpson. It’s a tense and well-crafted piece of popcorn disaster film-making that stands the test of time. Link

8. The Cincinnati Kid

The Cincinnati Kid is one of the best gambling movies ever created, due in part to McQueen’s performance as the up and coming stud player the movie is named after. The movie is filled with fantastic performances from everyone involved, but it’s worth watching for the poker alone.. even though the final showdown is one of the most hotly debated hands of the last fifty years. Link

7. Love with the Proper Stranger

Beneath all the machismo and bravado that work perfectly for what we’d consider a “traditional McQueen film,” McQueen did have some serious acting chops. Love with the Proper Stranger isn’t the traditional McQueen role you’re familiar with, but the films puts his talents on display in a typical 60’s era romantic comedy that also tackles some pretty heavy issues. Link

6. The Getaway

The Getaway is a heist drama with a fair bit of romance that’s the result of a combination of an awesome director in Peckinpah, McQueen at his most bad ass, and an on-screen/off-screen romance with the stunning Ali MacGraw. With the amount of violence, moral ambiguity and general mayhem, it’s a wonder this film carries a PG rating. Link

5. The Sand Pebbles

Based on the novel written by Richard McKenna, The Sand Pebbles tells the story of an an engineer—Jake Holman, played by McQueen—assigned to patrol a river in China during a revolution as part of the crew of the U.S.S. San Pablo. The film categorized as an “adventure, drama, romance” flick really puts McQueen’s acting chops front and center, which is probably why his performance in this film is the only time he was ever nominated for an Academy Award for best actor. He didn’t ultimately win the award, but the film itself has as much staying power as any trinket. Link

4. Papillon

One of the most hotly debated topics when it comes to the Steve McQueen canon is the film Papillon. Based on the semi-fictional account of Henri Charrière’s time in prison, Papillon is a pseudo auto-biographical crime drama based on an unjustly accused man, McQueen, befriending a fellow criminal, Dustin Hoffman, that plays out much like one of the other greatest films of all time—The Shawshank Redemption. Link

3. The Magnificent Seven

The Americanized version of Akira Kurosowa’s Seven Samurai might be a flick that the original creator considered disappointing, but that didn’t stop the ensemble cast of Yul Brenner, Eli Wallach, Charles Bronson, Robert Vaughn, James Coburn and Steve McQueen from making an American West gunslinger film that’s far superior to the remake created over half a century later. Link

2. Bullitt

Seven minute car chase. McQueen doing his own driving. That car, dear lord, that car. Sure, Bullitt has some completely irrelevant issues that we refuse to draw attention to, but it also includes a car chase that would go on to become the gold standard for car chases in all future movies and TV. If Bullitt ever comes on TV we will watch it each and every time. Link

1. The Great Escape

Yes, Bullitt is one of the greatest films of all time in our opinion, and yes, putting it in the number two slot was one of the hardest things we’ve ever done. But we still have to side with the masses on this one and declare The Great Escape the best Steve McQueen movie. The fantastic ensemble cast, the absurd motorcycle stunts and the sheer ass-kicking awesomeness created a film that holds up all these decades later. Link

Do Not Sell My Personal Information