High profile San Francisco Police Lieutenant Frank Bullitt is asked personally by ambitious Walter Chalmers, who is in town to hold a US Senate subcommittee hearing on organized crime, to guard Johnny Ross, a Chicago based mobster who is about to turn evidence against the organization at the hearing. Chalmers wants Ross' safety at all cost, or else Bullitt will pay the consequences. Bullitt and his team of Sergeant Delgetti and Detective Carl Stanton have Ross in protective custody for 48 hours over the weekend until Ross provides his testimony that upcoming Monday. Bullitt's immediate superior, Captain Samuel Bennet, gives Bullitt full authority to lead the case, no questions asked for any move Bullitt makes. When an incident occurs early during their watch, Bullitt is certain that Ross and/or Chalmers are not telling them the full story to protect Ross properly. Without telling Bennet or an incensed Chalmers, Bullitt clandestinely moves Ross while he tries to find out who is after ... Written by
"BULLITT comes to this theatre soon. That ought to shake up the place pretty good. Not many freaky cops like BULLITT around. You look at the Italian shoes and the turtleneck and you have to wonder. You listen to the official beefs about 'personal misconduct', 'disruptive influence', you figure he's got to be up for trade. But when some rare Chicago blood starts spilling in San Francisco, they give BULLITT the mop. They weren't exactly doing him a favour. But they've done a great big one for you" See more »
Much was made at the time, and over the years since, of Lt. Bullitt's stylish "casual" attire of a turtleneck worn with a sport coat, slacks and suede-like shoes. Since the major portion of the story in the film takes place over a Saturday and Sunday, this was actually in keeping with some police departments' traditions of a more relaxed dress code on weekends for plainclothes officers. Bullitt is first seen at work when meeting Chalmers on a Friday morning, wearing a traditionally conservative navy suit under his trench coat, with a white shirt, dark tie and dress shoes. These clothes were actually supplied by a menswear shoppe in London, England--Dougie Heywood's, Peter Yates' tailors. See more »
Several motions made by Phil (the driver of the Charger) suggest that the car is a manual, and what appears to be a shifter's sleeve is briefly visible after Mike loads his shotgun. As the charger approaches the truck that it later sideswipes, you can hear a down shift, and Phil's hand does not leave the steering wheel. See more »
The late 1960s saw two classic, hard-boiled thrillers set in San Fransico; John Boorman's stylised 'Point Blank', and Peter Yates' 'Bullitt'. Calling your hero Bullitt might seem an unsubtle way to emphasise his macho qualities, but in fact Steve MacQueen plays him as a quiet man, not some wise-talking maverick: he does what he has to do, but takes no pleasure in his actions; and survives the roughness of his work not by becoming a monster, but simply by becoming a little less human. It's a believable portrait, and the film as a whole has a procedural feel: there are action scenes, but these are kept in their place in the overall design.
Today, the film is most famous for its celebrated car chase, which makes excellent use, as indeed does the movie as a whole, of the bay area locations, but is not actually shot that excitingly: the conclusion at the airport is more original, though it roots the film in the time when it was permissible to take a loaded gun onto a plane. But overall this is still a classy film, dry, exciting and bleak, and among the very best films of its day. William Friedkin's brilliant 'The French Connection', made a short while afterwards, would appear to owe it a debt.
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