James Coburn was as cool as Steve McQueen, and McQueen was cool. James Coburn was directed by the best, from John Sturges, Sergio Leone to Sam Peckinpah. I don't think there was a roll McQueen ever played that Coburn couldn't have played just as well. The two seemed to be cut from the same cloth and yet, McQueen seemed to garner more of the fame.
Coburn played some memorable rolls in film, but I can't help believe he got to play his share. Jame Coburn was a household name, had an acting career that spanned over 40 years and yet...
Coburn also became Flint, Derik Flint. The Flint movies were mediocre. I believe Coburn deserved better than playing a mod version of the James Bond character. Flint is a secret agent somewhere between James Bond and the later to follow Austin Powers. I had a lot of friends when I was in grade school that thought Flint was awesome. Not me, I thought James Bond was awesome.
Maybe McQueen knew the ropes better than Coburn. When The Magnificent Seven was being made, Yule Bryner had a heck of a time trying to keep McQueen from upstaging him. McQueen was good at marketing McQueen. One of Coburn's most memorial scene was in the same movie...you know the one I'm talking about. Coburn has his eternal moment as he bested the man with the gun, with a knife.
Yeah, he was as good as McQueen. I could just as easily imagine Coburn in the starring rolls of Bullitt, The Getaway, Tom Horn and The Hunter. Maybe Coburn was just as cool and just as good an actor as McQueen, but McQueen knew how to sell his wares.
Then again, maybe Coburn just enjoyed his career without pushing his way through. Maybe he just enjoyed acting and not the struggle to the top. He had a big smile, a big laugh, and a nice easy going personality. Maybe a lot of what we saw on the screen revealed a lot of he who he was in real life. Maybe McQueen had a bigger ego to feed than Coburn and Coburn was too cool to feel he had to be out in front.