Thursday, September 15, 2011


As a new fan of SteveMcQueen since The Magnificent Seven and The Great Escape, it was only time to watch Bullitt (1968), directed by Peter Yates, and also starring Robert Vaughn (also in Magnificent Seven), Robert Duvall (The Godfather Parts I & II) and Jacqueline Bisset with a very secondary role as eye candy for the male viewers, and incidentally Bullitt's girlfriend.
 Lieutenant Bullitt (McQueen) is a cop who is commissioned by ambitious politician Chalmers (Vaughn) to protect Johnny Ross from the mob, as he is supposed to testify. Basically, the mission is assigned on a Friday, and Ross supposed to be kept alive until Monday. As things go wrong, Bullitt has to get to the bad guys before they get to him, all the while handling / dodging the politics of the situation.
The plot is basic but we get enough twists to keep the viewers interested. The characters are all very realistic, if a bit under developed, and the film overall is very well paced.
The film is mostly famous for the car chase in the streets of San Francisco, between a Dodge Charger 440 Magnum (the mob’s car) and the green Ford Mustang 390 GT (Bullitt’s car) – apparently McQueen got to keep the car after the filming of the movie. Some real speed action, with smoking tired, exhaust tones, etc….. that survived the passing of time very well. One funny thing was, the guys Bullitt is chasing remain so calm : the driver is wearing a tie, his passenger does not move in spite of driving very fast, and the two of them never say a word to each other !
Short extract here, for a longer version, you can click here

The way Steve McQueen plays is classic. He makes no apologies, does not get into politics, and just does his job. Every time I see him, he keeps giving the word « COOL » a new meaning, and Bullitt is no exception. Steve McQueen cannot be matched. Robert Vaughn is also extremely unlikeable as the ambitious politician trying to make Bullitt his scapegoat. Some great dialogues out of these two :
Chalmers: Come on, now. Don't be naive, Lieutenant. We both know how careers are made. Integrity is something you sell the public

Bullitt: Look, Chalmers, let's understand each other... I don't like you.

Chalmers: Lieutenant, don't try to evade the responsibility. In your... parlance, you blew it.

Chalmers: Frank, we must all compromise.
Bullitt: Bullshit.

A definite must see, it may seem a bit dated but will still put you on edge every time.

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