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Modern directors should take note of the style.
jd37221 February 2005
What a change of pace this movie is as compared with its genre today. I'm no old fogey but would that modern directors become smart enough take several pages from its book.

The Bullit character is a precursor of Dirty Harry but a bit more cerebral. Stylistically, the director sets the stage beautifully for McQueen's Bullit. The movie has a European feel (director Peter Yates is a Brit) and achieves its dark mood through quiet understatement. The musical score for instance. Today, music is overly used, overly loud and manipulative. (i.e. in case you are not moved by this scene, here are a division of amplified violins to remind you to weep). In 'Bullit' the music is sparingly used and doesn't intrude at all. It complements the directorial style without setting the agenda.

The feeling of reserved naturalism is achieved through editing and dialogue. There really aren't very many lines in the movie and when characters do speak they are very succinct. Notice the last 15-20 minutes of the movie, most of which takes place at the airport. Hardly a line in it. There is none of the chattiness so prevalent today (especially post "Pulp Fiction") which is so tedious (unless the script is tip-top, which is rare).

Editing is, perhaps, its greatest strong point. The many long edits deserve equal credit with the dialogue in setting the low-key mood. The cinema verite dialogue of the airport scenes (and, say, the scene where McQueen and Don Gordon search the trunk) combined with the long cuts add greatly to understated feel while adding realism.

And the performances are top notch. The spare script helps McQueen shine since the taciturn moodiness fits his persona to a tee. There are very fine performances from all of the supporting cast, from Don Gordon to Bisset to Fell to Duvall to Oakland. This is a great movie for watching faces. Note the expressions of the hit men during the chase scene (just another example of this movie letting the little touches speak volumes).

The chase scene certainly deserves its billing as one of the best in movie history. Recently, 'The Transporter' was lauded for its opening chase sequence. The one in 'Bullit' is a marvel compared. In 'The Transporter' sequence I'm not sure there is a cut that lasts more than three seconds. In 'Bullit' it is again the editing which sets it apart here. The long edits give you the feel of acceleration and deceleration, of tire smoke and gears, of wind and the roller coaster San Francisco streets. You are given the time to place yourself in the frame. In short, 'Bullit' uses real craftsmanship. Films like 'The Transporter' use hundreds of quick edits to mimic the danger and immediacy of 'Bullit' but it comes across as hot air, confusion instead of clarity. The two scenes are perfect set pieces of easy (and hollow) Mtv-style flash versus real directorial substance.
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Frank Bullitt Is Slick
CalRhys13 July 2014
Steve McQueen is Frank Bullitt! Frank Bullitt is slick! 'Bullitt' is thrilling! The stylish mystery thriller that created a basis for all future police procedurals to follow! With fantastic direction from Peter Yates and immaculate attention to detail on the stunning cinematography, 'Bullitt' is an attention-demanding and action-packed adventure supported by a jazz-fuelled score. When reviewing this crime flick, who could overlook the unforgettable Mustang v Charger chase through the streets of San Francisco which is arguably the greatest and most influential car chase ever filmed. 'Bullitt' is a dark and suspenseful masterpiece from Peter Yates.
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paul2001sw-118 December 2004
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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Maximum Cool
gvb09071 November 2001
Steve McQueen's career peaked in 1968 with "Bullitt" and "The Thomas Crown Affair," both ideal vehicles for his cool persona. Although superior to its recent remake, "Crown" has not aged gracefully, while "Bullitt" has held up fairly well.

Cool though he may be, Frank Bullitt is a totally committed detective, perhaps even more so than Gene Hackman's Popeye Doyle or Clint Eastwood's Dirty Harry Callahan. Bullitt is a complete professional who never takes his eye off the objective, no matter how much interference he encounters from his superiors or from Robert Vaughan's scheming politician, Walter Chalmers. And Bullitt, unlike Doyle or Callahan, operates without the histrionics. No one-liners, no yelling and screaming tantrums from this officer. You may not like him very much, but you have to respect his dedication to duty and you'll quickly share his absolute contempt for Chalmers.

"Bullitt" is best remembered for its spectacular car chase in which McQueen reportedly did most of his own driving. But this is not primarily an action film. Aside from the chase and the final shootout at SFO, there's not a lot of violence. Most of the attention is on Bullitt's maneuvering to unravel the mystery and to keep Chalmers off his back.

Recommended if you like McQueen or policiers in general. The pace may be a little slow for people under 30 who are used to a more slam-bang, less cerebral approach to this sort of thing, but "Bullitt" is still worth your time. Just don't expect "Lethal Weapon."
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Not just a car chase
tarmcgator1 October 2004
Warning: Spoilers
SPOILERS, sort of.

"Bullitt" seems to be remembered mostly for the central car chase, which was state-of-the-art for its time and still works extremely well. But this signature film of the late '60s was more than screeching tires and muscle cars flying down the hills of San Francisco.

McQueen was not a great "actor," in the sense of being able to play a variety of characters convincingly -- but then, most film actors are not. Bogart, Grant, Gable, Wayne, Dean, Eastwood et al. each developed a distinctive screen character that audiences found appealing and then built their careers on that character. McQueen could be charming in romantic roles ("Love with the Proper Stranger"), and he had the guts (and box-office clout) to risk playing against his typical character in "The Reivers" and "An Enemy of the People." But his basic screen persona, as exemplified in "Bullitt," was the cool, reserved physical act-er who distrusted words and relied on his own body and wits to survive in a hostile world. His characters are consummate professionals whose skills and competence give their lives meaning in the chaos of war and urban crime. Audiences respond to McQueen because of that self-reliance and competence (the same quality that made the young James Cagney so appealing) and his healthy skepticism about convention and authority.

Frank Bullitt was a particularly interesting character for McQueen because he was, for the first time, playing an actual authority figure, a respected police detective, but one still caught up in the intrigues of the "establishment," personified by a politically ambitious DA, Chalmers (Robert Vaughan). When Bullitt fails to protect the DA's mob witness and one of his own men is badly shot up, the detective sets out to find out the truth of the situation and ultimately discovers that the DA has been conned. It's interesting, in this pre-Watergate film, that there's no hint of criminality or corruption about Vaughan's character or any of Bullitt's San Francisco police superiors. Bullitt's ultimate contempt for Chalmers stems both from an innate distrust of politicians (who are willing to compromise standards of professionalism for political gain) as well as the the DA's sheer incompetence in dealing with the Mob.

The plot requires close attention; I recall that it took me two or three viewings before I understood everything that was going on in the film. But "Bullitt" rewards repeat viewings with new wrinkles and insights. The film also benefits from the great location photography and from a superb cast of character actors. Bullitt's fellow detectives (Don Gordon and Carl Reindel) are likewise dedicated professionals; his boss (Simon Oakland) is also a pro, sympathetic to Bullitt but wary of the political pressures on the police department. Norman Fell is downright scary as a police captain allied with the smooth, oily Chalmers; and Robert Duvall stands out in a rather small role. The locations and supporting actors lend a realism to "Bullitt" that also make it satisfying after multiple viewings.

Ultimately,"Bullitt" is not about the car chase and shoot-outs, but about a person trying to maintain his humanity and self-respect while doing a violent, sordid job that society demands and in which he obviously believes. At one point, Bullitt's luscious girlfriend (Jacqueline Bisset, at her most appealing) happens on a crime scene and realizes the true nature of her lover's work. "You're living in a sewer, Frank!" she cries. And it is a very expensive place to live. Bullitt shows humane instincts and flashes of warmth and humor, but his attitude toward life is one of suspicion and skepticism. He's constantly on his guard, on edge, seldom able to relax, even with his girl. The film ends ambiguously, as Bullitt quietly contemplates the emotional price he pays for his authority and for doing a soul-grinding job at which he has become quite adept. It's this deeper layer of character and emotion, not the car chase, that make this film a classic.
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The real king......
dixie-1829 October 2003
McQueen was really the King of Cool. I have read many comments here about this film, and some say it is slow, some say it is an action thriller. Thrilling it is! Steve did not have to jabber in every scene to dominate this film. The car chase is unequaled to this day. How can anything on the road in later years compare to the "muscle cars" of the late 60s? But Steve was the star, make no mistake, and even though the dialogue was minimal, it was enough. Steve McQueen had that power on the screen. He remains one of Hollywood's best, even though he passed away over twenty years ago. We will not see the likes of him for many more years. Women loved him, men loved him too. If you have not seen many of his films, watch any you can. Watch him in Tom Horn (1980), and Papillon (1973). Try The Getaway (1972), Junior Bonner (1972)and the humorous The Reivers (1969). Of course, The Sand Pebbles (1966) , The Great Escape (1963), and the ever classic The Magnificent Seven(1960) are among his most popular films. You never go wrong with any of these.
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The one that started it all...
BroadswordCallinDannyBoy10 February 2004
...from from rogue cops who make their own rules, to... rogue cops who seriously know how to put the pedal to the medal. Only Bogie and John Wayne were cinematic tough guys before Frank Bullitt came along, and it was Bullitt that inspired Dirty Harry and every rogue cop movie as a result. If you were looking for the first modern cop thriller, well here it is. Accept no substitutes. In today's over-blown and effects laden (for better of for worse) era, people often forget that all those films began with movies like this one.

The story has Lieutenant Frank Bullitt receiving an assignment to protect a star witness in a high profile case that could bring down a powerful crime organization. Bullitt and his men take turns guarding the witness, but before long there is a hit and the witness is mortally wounded, and Bullitt takes the case into his own hands. The resulting mystery is both Grade-A Hollywood entertainment (rare these days) and a believable character portrait of a man engulfed by his work in a cruel world.

Of course one cannot talk about his movie without mentioning the legendary car chase, which is one of the best out there, but is not the main part of the movie as many make it out to be. If you see this movie just for some pedal to the medal action you will be let down. The focus of the movie is on Bullitt and the car chase, while very exciting and fun to watch, is one of the many scenes that show Bullitt's near obsession to work. Unlike today's crap action movies there is no 37 car pile up, no cars flipping over simply because the bad guys are driving them.

Also the finale of the film, a foot chase at an airport, has our hero firing two shots from his pistol and that is the only time he uses it in the movie. This film demonstrates that action is best when the result of a character's emotions and not a director's ambition to blow stuff up. Bullitt wants to get the bottom of the case, he wants to find out who's been following him around town and that is the result of the action scenes. In the end the film is a true classic and Frank Bullitt is a character to remember. 10/10

Rated PG: violence (though if it were released today, it probably would get a PG-13)
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A Not-to-be Missed Thriller
DrHypersonic29 May 2005
Bullitt is an extraordinary film, memorable, powerful, and absolutely riveting. The plot has twists and turns that are believable and lack any pretense of being forced or artificial. Justly heralded for its tremendous car chase--a tribute to legendary driver Bill Hickman, arguably the finest of all motion picture drivers--the film as well captures the feel of gritty detective work in a form that has been copied frequently since, but rarely, if ever, equaled. The film is a delight as a period piece: the easy-going, already laid-back Bay area culture of the late 1960's and early 1970's, the tension between the cool, vaguely anti-establishment Bullitt and the straight-laced local officials and department heads that he finds himself compelled to work with. The other actors are themselves a superb supporting cast: old-timers like Simon Oakland, Norman Fell, an oily (and vaguely Bobby Kennedy-ish) Robert Vaughn, and Don Gordon (as Bullitt's long-suffering but intensely loyal partner). But, as well, there are memorable newcomers: George Sanford Brown as an overworked doctor, Robert Duvall as a sharp taxi driver, and Jacqueline Bisset as Bullitt's trophy architect-girlfriend. Lalo Schifrin contributed a superb, memorable score--just the right mix of jazz and brass and percussion. And, of course, that glorious Mustang. . . .!!! Not to be missed!!!!!
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This One IS the Trendsetter
jmg3813 March 2004
Warning: Spoilers
This movie started the ball rolling for all future rogue cop movies. Reviewers complaining that "it's all been done" need to shake their head - it's all been done AFTER Bullit was released.

What is surprising is the way it incorporates many small true-to-life touches throughout the movie that do not normally make it onto the screen. (NOT SPOILERS) The quiet way McQueen keeps eating his sandwich despite a withering glare from Vaughn, the way the son of the police captain interrupts his Dad and Vaughn to say that Mom wants to get into the church, the way Bisset suddenly snaps out in fear and anger just like many people in relationships do. None of these make or break the movie - nor are they meant to - but their cumulative impact is refreshing.

Another (almost) true-to-life touch is the car chase - no dramatic music, no overly suspenseful camera work, just a flat out race between two bellowing muscle cars. They even left in the mistakes of missed corners and unplanned impacts with parked vehicles. This wasn't your perfect Hollywood car chase scene, this really was a couple of dumb a**es (the cop and the bad guy) getting caught up in the adrenaline of the moment and thinking that driving too fast would somehow solve their situation.

Simply watch this movie, and you will see how good it is. If, instead, you watch it expecting the biggest most dramatic most earth-shattering breakthrough movie of all time, you immediately destroy the entire concept and only YOU will be responsible for the disappointment.
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Before cell phones, i-pods and mostly plastic over-priced cars and special effects... there was "BULLITT"
buzznzipp199512 July 2006
Far be it for me to say, that not all movies have residual value.

The studio exec's had a seven picture deal with McQueen's Seven Arts company, and did not like that Steve stood up for his project and would not lay down. He did not want to 'fake' the city back ground on studio 'back lots' he wanted to stay true to the art, not the convenience and artificiality of typical studio movie-faking techniques. The formed 'formula', that the Indies have been rebelling against for years. McQueen was a true rebel and with a method to his madness, indeed.

The studios executives became so 'Upset' at his 'stance' that they came back to him and cut the contract with him, eliminating the remaining six unmade films. What a joke. That fact was the 'joke' was on them, in fairness the movie even after decades is still one of the strongest of action movies with a storyline to follow.

No 'B-S' special effects. What you see took real-time work to make it happened. One of the fastest chase scenes ever filmed in a car after using the backdrop of 'Mansell' road in the San Fran area. The reason why the movie feels so good is due to being as close to real as possible.

I hate, as I'm sure many discriminating movie lovers do, the executive presto-change-o in the movie script or budget, that is usually done at the last minute of production time, like what was done to Director: Sidney J Furie on "SUPERMAN IV" The Quest for Peace (1987) where they slashed his budget to about half of the original arrangement, and then said basically 'Well, what are you looking at? Get going! Bring us back a block-buster.' It's never been truer,what they say, choose your 'battles' wisely. This is how it looks when you have grit and stick to your business with strength, you either get killed, or you become immovable. The studio execs are not gods, of the entertainment world. Although they would like to think they are just that.

But indeed, Steve took his 'licks' from the principals of the school of movie-hard-knocks and then got up again and said, I'll still do it in my style. -From what I read and heard about him. This is one of my all-time favorite movies. Thank you Mr. McQueen & Mr. Yates for making it Epic. There should be in the modern directorial training classes a of the way this was scripted, set up, lit and shot. Even after 30years plus, this still rocks even new productions and will live on further than many recent and newer films. The real interesting thing for me is that just as this is one of my all time favorite's, this was on the top four all-time favorites for "Elvis Presley".

Recommended for lovers of awesome action and good stories. This is a winner all the way.(*****)
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Cool Is Another Name for Steve McQueen!!!
zardoz-1322 January 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Peter Yates' "Bullitt" qualifies as one of Steve McQueen's iconic roles. McQueen is at the top of his game in this San Francisco based police thriller about a insubordinate detective assigned to keep a mob informant alive until District Attorney Walter Chamlers (Robert Vaughn) can get him to testify before the grand jury. Nothing about "Bullitt" turns out to be simple. The more Lieutenant Bullitt looks into the case, the more he finds complications. Of course, anybody who loves taut auto chases must see "Bullitt." McQueen's wife divorced in partially because he drove the Mustang in this harrowing chase through the hills of the City by the Bay. The two moments in "Bullitt" that overshadow the landmark chase are the instant that the bag falls from the laundry chute and smacks the hallway floor and earlier when the gunmen burst into the hotel and shoot the witness. McQueen is stylist with his closely-cropped hair and his casual attire. I don't think that Hollywood could stage a finale at an airport like Yates did here. This was Peter Yates' big break after he made "Robbery" about the great British train robbery. Reportedly, McQueen hired Yates on the basis of "Robbery." Look for Robert Duvall in a small supporting role as a cabbie.
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A must see
Ross62228 December 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Peter Yates' Bullitt is arguably one of the greatest police movies ever made as well as one of the best movies of all time in general. The movie stars Steve McQueen as Lt. Frank Bullitt as a tough as nails San Francisco policeman who is asked by Walter Chalmers (played by Robert Vaughn) who is there to hold a hearing at a Senate subcommittee, to protect a Chicago mobster named Johnny Ross (played by Pat Renella) who is going to turn evidence against that organization during the hearing, though Chalmers is constantly asking Bullitt for Ross's safety at all costs or else Bullitt would pay the consequence for not protecting Ross. Bullitt and his 2 other police buddies Sgt. Delgetti (played by Don Gordon), and Det. Carl Stanton (played by Carl Reindel) end up putting Ross in protective custody for 2 days until the hearing, meanwhile his superior officer Capt. Samuel Bennett (played by Simon Oakland) ends up giving Bullitt full authority of the case. The chase scene in this film reminded me of the chase scene in the French Connection (1971) but the chase scene in this movie a lot more entertaining and lasts much longer, and the neatest thing about the chase scene in this film is at first Bullitt knows that he is being followed by the Hit-man who supposedly killed Ross and then he starts chasing him for an 11 minute time period, the difference in the chase scene in Friedkin's film is that the Gene Hackman character chases the criminal underneath a railroad track for a short period of time and the one in this film I won't repeat again. McQueen gives his best performance since both The Magnificent Seven (1960), and the Great Escape (1963), and Robert Vaughn is also perfectly cast as the extremely annoying character who constantly "demands" that Bullitt gives him his dead witness, and also Peter Yates was a great choice to direct this film, as well as Robert Duvall as the taxi driver, it is a great film.
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McQueen In The Driver's Seat
ccthemovieman-120 April 2006
Steve McQueen was usually worth watching no matter what he was in, although he did a few stinkers like everyone else. This is not one of them; he's excellent here as an intense but low-key cop. It's a pretty solid police thriller which features a famous car-chase scene that supposedly set the standard (or maybe it did at the time of release.)

What's interesting to note, according to a documentary on the DVD, is that McQueen did his own driving! No stuntman for him, even at 110 miles per hour through the streets. Speaking of streets, San Francisco always makes for an interesting local.

Robert Vaughn, Don Gordon, Jacqueline Bissett, Simon Oakland and Robert Duvall complete the big-name cast, but this is McQueen's movie all the way.....and, for a film almost 40 years old, it's not very dated.
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Rings with authenticity
perfectbond26 March 2005
Despite having aged somewhat, Bullitt remains a tough, gritty, and altogether realistic portrait of police life in late sixties San Francisco. The film is of course most renowned for the spectacular (even by today's standards) car chase in which star Steve McQueen famously did his own stunt driving (I wonder what the insurance policy was like?!) Although McQueen didn't really have to stretch beyond his already established screen persona, he is perfect in the role. He is Bullitt like Connery is Bond. Maybe the role was tailored specifically for him. He also has Jacqueline Bisset (Cathy), who can more than hold her own with any Bond girl, to come home to! She adds a welcome domestic quality and the audience feels relieved that despite the unforgiving profession Bullitt works in, at least he has a good woman at his side. The location photography in beautiful San Francisco, the to-the-letter accurate procedural dialogue, the political infighting with the smarmy D.A. Chalmers (Robert Vaughn) and the brutally violent action scenes all complement the fine performances to create an entirely engrossing authentic crime drama. Watch for the great Robert Duvall in a minor role as the cabbie.
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Great film
DAW-81 May 2001
There were so many great things about this film. You've got to love late 1960s cinematography. Contrary to being even a "typical" cop film of its day, many of the scenes here were shot in such a way as to convey a message to the viewer which goes beyond the plotline itself. The is an "urban" film--numerous scenes reflect the city and the mood of 1968 by occasionally commenting on racial issues of the day (the black doctor who is asked to be replaced), and conspicuous shots of blacks, other minorities (after Ross is shot at the hotel) and hippies, porn shops on the corner, etc. I found the airport tarmac chase scene even better than the car chase, the dwarfing of the characters and deafening din by the jumbo Pan American 747s completely pulls the viewer in as if he or she is right there. There were some other great scenes which could almost stand alone, such as one in a restaurant where a jazz quartet (with flute-nice 1960s touch) is playing. It fades into the next scene in which Steve McQueen is laying in bed the next morning, reminiscing about the mood in that restaurant.

Many people complain about the slowness of the film, and it is slow, and the use of such "pointless" scenes as the one in the restaurant, but I find this is one of the things that makes it so great. It conveys the complexity and mundaneness of everyday life. This is a refreshing contrast to hollywood films which are always action-packed and one-dimensional. This film is a pleasure to watch. You come away from it feeling like you have experienced many things, and you're not sure what all they are.
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A cop thriller with undoubted charisma...
Nazi_Fighter_David15 May 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Newman, after "Hud," continued his career with films that clearly signified the evolution of the anti-hero into a man who actively opposed the wrongs he saw around him… This opposition was to be effectively personified by Steve McQueen… His early films that included "Hell Is for Heroes," "The Great Escape," "Love With the Proper Stranger," and "Baby the Rain Must Fall," all roles which, together with his addiction to motorcycle racing, led to McQueen's personification as anti-hero…

This reached its peak in "Bullitt," the film which finally confirmed both McQueen's image and his claim to stardom…

McQueen is assigned to guard Johnny Ross (Pat Renella). When Ross is gunned down in his dingy hotel room hideout, Walter Chalmers (Robert Vaughn), the ambitious assistant DA who hopes to expose the syndicate, threatens to ruin Bullitt's career if Ross dies… But Bullitt is suspicious and, when Ross does in fact die, he suppresses the news while he investigates…

McQueen's ability to convey Bullitt's contempt for Chalmers' threats – and his knowledge that even though he might lose his job, he would never lose his integrity – confirmed his image…

Bullitt was Hud, Seventies style; he knows the world is full of crap but he is pretty sure that it is possible to keep out of most of it…

The film is distinguished by a splendid car chase through the streets of San Francisco, with Detective Bullitt in a Mustang, chasing the baddies in their sedan... which takes one's mind off the tedious plot…
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A movie guaranteed to put hair on your chest!
aaronfenzi11 January 2001
Steve McQueen stars as Frank Bullitt, a tough San Francisco police lieutenant assigned to protect a mob witness. When the witness is gunned down, it is up to Bullitt to exact his own brand of justice, much to the dismay of Robert Vaughn, a smarmy congressman who wishes to further his political career by prosecuting organized crime. He holds Bullitt responsible for the death of his star witness, and it is up to the super cop to bring the killer down, while showing Vaughn that he is nothing but a gussied-up sissy-boy.

McQueen's performance in this all-time classic is the archetype for not only anyone who aspires to become an actor, but also for the proper way to live like a real man. Think about it. He disregards such nonsense as police procedure, he gets to drive a really cool car, and if that's not enough, Jacqueline Bisset worships the ground he walks on. As far as I'm concerned, this guy's the luckiest guy on earth!

As for the supporting cast, you could not have asked for a better one. The great Simon Oakland is perfect as Bullitt's sympathetic captain. Fans may remember Oakland as the psychologist at the end of "Psycho," in what may be the most brawny portrayal of a shrink in modern cinema. Robert Vaughn exudes the right amount of smarminess and stupidity associated with politicians. Norman Fell displays why he is one of the most underrated talents of this half-century in his portrayal of one of Vaughn's associates. Jacqueline Bisset shows up for window dressing as Bullitt's girlfriend. (Let's face it. If she were a "real-life" girlfriend, she would probably cry and nag McQueen all day, preventing him from engaging in really cool activities like speeding through the streets of San Francisco, chasing after lowlife scum.) And as a bonus, Robert Duvall appears briefly in the greatest portrayal of a cab driver of all time. (That is, of course, until Mr. T starred in "D.C. Cab.")

The movie wisely dispenses with such useless elements as plot and emotion. Instead, genius auteur Peter Yates allows McQueen to concentrate on looking intense and dealing with all the existential problems of any real man, such as how to ignore stupid politicians and treat them as if they are irrelevant.

Aside from the NECESSARY violence, there is nothing in this PG-rated film that any self-respecting parent would find objectionable. In fact, when my daughter can appreciate quality films, aside from the Barney collection, this will be the first of many required-viewing films for her, followed by "The Dirty Dozen," "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly," and "Dirty Harry."
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Still the greatest car chase sequence in any thriller ever made
theowinthrop20 September 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I have found in my life that few films hit me properly from the start. BULLITT (which I first saw at College) was one of them. It cemented my high opinion of the cinematic acting ability of Steve McQueen, and it has always struck me as one of the best police "procedural" films in terms of the way the investigation is handled by McQueen's titled character. But the chase, at the center of the film, is the highpoint that made me love the film. And oddly enough, Director Peter Yates manages to somewhat top it with the second chase through the runways of an airport at the film's conclusion.

McQueen works under Simon Oakland as a detective in the San Francisco Police Department. He lives with his artistic girlfriend Jacqueline Bissett. One day he is one of the detectives assigned to protect an important witness against the mob that is supposed to be presented to the anti-crime commission by millionaire/would-be politician Robert Vaughn. The witness is set up in a motel with policemen as guards. There should be no problem. Yet two mob hit men manage to crash in, wound the police (one fatally) and kill the witness. McQueen is told of this and goes to the hospital. He has little use for Vaughn (an arrogant creep if ever there was one), or his stooge central police connection Norman Fell. His sole interest now is to find the killers and figure out what happened. He does so by hiding the fact that the witness died - and spreading the word that the police are now redoubling efforts to protect the witness.

While Vaughn fumes and Fell threatens Oakland and McQueen, the latter continues the investigation, aided by cabby Robert Duvall (in an early role). This leads to the chase sequence, which starts with us being aware that the cab and then McQueen's car are being followed by a car with the two hit men in it. The beginning of the sequence is mild, as we see them driving after McQueen, but the turning point is when they have apparently lost him, and he reappears following their car. Then they go into the outskirts of San Francisco, and the roads from the city, with the added threats of other vehicles and of a twelve gage sawed - off shotgun one of the hit men uses.

There are nice procedural moments throughout: McQueen seeing the set up of the now closed crime scene at the motel, with ribbons tracing the trajectories of the bullets; the investigation of a dead woman's trunk and belongings to figure out why she was killed; a sequence with a 1968 version (possibly a first) of a fax machine of that period - a favorite scene of mine because it knocks the props out of both Vaughn's arrogance and Fell's belief that his own future in the police is made. And the issues of the effect of the job on McQueen is not forgotten either. Bissett witnesses the aftermath of some violence, and confronts him on how he can stand it every day.

I do not think any other crime and cop thriller ever hit the notes so naturally and perfectly together. The cast helps from McQueen down to the two hit men (silent roles for stunt men). Witness too that Simon Oakland plays a nice character for once, and does well with his part (look at the scene between him and a threatening Vaughn outside the church Oakland is taking his family to on Sunday). Vaughn is great as a smarmy, selfish piece of work who sees people as pawns to play with for his own benefit. McQueen finally tells him off, but does it effectively and without histrionics.

This is one of those films that just never ages.
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The epitome of cool.
MartinHafer11 September 2010
This film begins with perhaps the opening title sequence in film history. The look, the sounds and the titles themselves....all very, very cool. Lalo Schifrin's song is the perfect jazz tune to accompany this and you just know that this movie is something special.

The title character (Steve McQueen) is a Lieutenant with the San Francisco police and he and his partner (Don Gordon) are assigned the task to protect a mob informant. Now considering that this is an action-suspense film, what happens next is no big surprise. However, what was nice is how the film combined realistic looking police work with amazing action and grittiness--like combining Film Noir with and action film as well as a healthy dose of cool. I could say more about the plot, but would rather not--as there are a lot of mystery elements about the film and I'd hate to ruin the surprises and twists.

The most famous part of this film is, of course, the great car chase scene--featuring a Ford Mustang playing 'cat and mouse' with a Dodge Charger up and down the hills of the city. It's a magnificent scene but fortunately there's a lot more to the film than this--it's NOT just this chase but a well-made and intelligent cop film--a very gritty one at that. To make things even better, the film featuring some excellent actors doing their craft in addition to McQueen--such as Robert Vaughn, Simon Oakland and Don Gordon--who I have always thought was an underrated actor.

If you see this film, you may see some parallels with the later Dirty Harry series. Both are set in San Francisco, both feature an undercover cop who hates to play by the rules and both are tough characters. However, McQueen's 'Bullit' is more cool and thoughtful but a lot less intensely angry--and as a result a lot easier to believe...but also a bit less entertaining as he doesn't have all those wonderful Eastwood tag-lines! Personally, I prefer McQueen's style--you may not.

Overall, the film is exceptional--one of the best police films of the era. In fact, I had a hard time deciding whether or not to give it a 9 or 10--and giving any film a 10 is something I very, very rarely do. Why a 10? Well the film has got it all--an interesting plot, great action, terrific tension and a realism that sets it apart from the usual cop film. And, it sure has style to boot. Not surprisingly, this film was very influential and was followed by many police films which were reminiscent of "Bullitt"--such as "The French Connection", "McQ" and, of course, the Dirty Harry films. The only deficits, and they are very, very minor, is that perhaps McQueen is too cool and quiet as well as how inexplicable it is in the airport scene that none of the many, many travelers seem to notice he is holding a gun. You'd think someone would notice and say something! Still, it's a great film from start to finish and it holds up marvelously over time.
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Not just a movie...
djdaedalus27 June 2006
...it's a historical document. Society ladies showing off their trophy furs. Defunct airlines (Pan Am) and collapsed freeways (the Embarcadero). Cops without cell phones, or two way radios. Billboards showing how little has changed ("Need Money for Taxes ?", "Mothers Day Brunch May 11, make your reservations now") and how much ("ENCO" gasoline). Backstreet USA in all its slovenly glory. Moribund corner stores with fading signs. And of course an airport where you walk in and out, neat as you please, past the luggage left standing unattended at the curb.

Before Bullitt only the Europeans produced cinema that actually photographed society instead of re-creating it in a studio. With a few exceptions (The Conversation, The French Connection) Hollywood didn't exactly pick up the ball and run with it. Hollywood makes money, not historical documents. No matter. Watch this movie for its action and its background - and ask yourself if your time is better than Bullitt's.
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Not impressed!
CuriosityKilledShawn11 March 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Somewhere inside the overlong, 114-minute Bullitt there is a brisk 90-minute long film desperate to get out. But as it is, it's seriously overlong with nothing to sustain it. Many pointless scenes come and go with loads of long, indulgent tracking shots goose-up the running time. I almost nodded-off a few times, I honestly don't see what all the fuss is about regarding this film.

The paper-thin story has Detective Bullitt trying to determine how a Mob informant in Police custody managed to be killed (he's not actually killed until about an hour later though). A local politician (Robery Vaughn, who didn't really want to do the film) acts as the token bureaucrat, standing in the way of getting things done. But getting WHAT done exactly? In 114 minutes almost NOTHING happens in this damn movie! Instead of mystery, clues, police procedure, shoot-outs and problem-solving we're treated to scene after scene of...not much. Bullitt eats food at the hospital, he goes shopping for celery and TV dinners, he hangs around with his girlfriend (a completely pointless character played by Jaqueline Bissett) and sometimes takes a passing interest in the case. About 80-minutes into this bore he is FINALLY involved in a car chase (THE car chase that everyone raves about) that 'tears up' the streets of San Francisco.

I don't understand why this film has so much adoration or why all the fans proclaim it's 'the original and best', 'the one that started it all' or any other generic soundbite you can think of. There were cop movies before this, there were car chases before this. What exactly is Bullitt credited with 'starting'?

A sense of being cool, calm and collected doesn't turn water into wine. Bullitt is plain, repetitive, agonizingly slow and almost completely without a plot. Don't consider me a philistine or someone who has been brainwashed by the over-edited nature of modern films where we're guaranteed and explosion every five minutes. I appreciate films from all eras and from all backgrounds. But Bullitt is just way, way overrated certainly does not deserve the high regard it's been lauded with. A real disappointment.
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A Bullitt For Steve
sol121816 March 2004
*****SPOILERS****** Even though the movie "Bullitt" is known for it's legendary car chase scene, this in 1968 when everything was done for real not in a studio with computer enhanced imagery, the movie is also a very fine crime/drama straight out of todays headlines and has a very good and brainy plot too.

Senator Walter Chalmers is holding a special Senate Commission on Organized Crime in America in San Francisco and has a very important witness Johnny Ross, Pat Renella, coming from Chicago to testify. Chalmers Wants to make sure that Ross is protected from the mob who beside testifying against it has also stolen $2,000,000.00 dollars from them and they want him dead and will go to any lengths to get him.

Ross is assigned a unit from the SFPD headed by Let. Frank Bullitt, Steve McQueen, for around the clock protection at an undisclosed hotel. Just before Ross entered the hotel he made a number of Phone calls one was to a hotel in San Mateo Calif. Later back in his hotel room with Sgt. Stanton, Carl Reindel guarding him Ross slides open the lock on the door and just then two men enter the hotel room and blast both Ross and Sgt. Stanton away; at the hospital Sgt. Stanton survives but Ross dies on the operating table.

Let. Bullitt wisely decides to keep Ross' death secret from Senator Chalmers as well as the media by having Ross' body put on ice in the hospital morgue, unidentified, under a John Doe. With Ross' death kept under cover Let. Bullitt checks out Ross' phone calls, before he entered the hotel room, and finds that the call to the San Mateo hotel was to a woman who registered under the named of Dorothy Simmons. With the Senate Commission hearing the next day Bullitt begins to realize that this dead hood Johnny Ross may not the person that he seems to be.

As Let. Bullitt gets closer to the truth about the whole Ross business his life becomes endangered by the two killers, Paul Genge and Bill Hickman, who killed Johnny Ross in his hotel room. This sets the scene for the thrilling and exciting car chase that the movie is noted for. Setting him up for an ambush on a deserted San Francisco street Bullitt turns the tables on the killers by backtracking and then surprises and chases them into a hot corner. We have the two killers and Let. Bullitt flooring the gas peddle and tearing up the roads and highway in and around San Francisco and the Bay Area. The exciting car chase comes to an end when, after trying to shoot at Bullitt's car with a shotgun, the killers auto loses control and smashes into a gas station with both of the killers ending dead and burned to a crisp .

Back at the police station Bullitt starts to check out the mysterious Mrs. Simmons, the woman who Ross called before he was killed, at her hotel room in San Mateo and finds her murdered. Looking at Mrs. Simmons' luggage Let. Bullitt and the police find out that she was really a Mrs. Renick and was scheduled to leave San Francisco ,with her husband Edward, on a plane trip to Italy? whats going on here?

Checking Mrs.Renick aka Simmons husbands passport photo Bullitt realizes that Johnny Ross who was killed at the hotel room was really her husband Edward Renick a car dealer from Chicago with no mob connections. Renick must have been paid off by the real Johnny Ross, Felice Orlandi, to impersonate him with Ross taking Renick's passport and identity and checking out of the country and away from the law and the mob who were both looking for him! Ross must have also double-crossed both Renick and his wife by having them murdered.

With the real Johnny Ross now heading for the San Francisco International Airport to make his getaway Let. Frank Bullitt is the only one who has a chance to stop him and as it gets closer for Ross' flight to take off for Italy the chances of him getting caught are getting slimmer by the minute.

Terrific police/action/drama with an ending at the airport, thats as good as the great car chase seen earlier in the film, that left everyone gasping. Also good in the film is Jackie Bisset as Let. Frank Bullitt's girlfriend Cathy who had trouble accepting Frank's job as a policeman especially by seeing up front and personal, the murdered Mrs. Simmons/Renick, what that job did to him as well as what it was doing to her her by living with him.
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mini_beast_ainger5 May 2004
Quite simply this film resembles what most films of the sixties did. Simple, but effective! There are no special effects, no stunt actors, no pyrotechnics. Its simple technology and simple acting and it works brilliantly! McQueen's performance is like any other McQueen performance; Mono-tone but exciting. His failure to over-act his scenes works well and the coolness during the car chase scene is legendary! Bullit may not immediatly grab peoples attention as a thriller but this is because too many people are comparing it with modern day thrillers. Bullit is a quiet thriller. It does not need expensive special effects, explosions and rampant sex scenes to make you pay attention to the plot of the film. McQueens presence draws your attention, and his style of acting makes you pay attention and the Mustang makes it a must see for any throttle head! Anybody who can claim this film to be boring and lackluster should not be allowed to review films. A sixties icon!
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It was unbelievable in the theater ...
beam_er8 January 2003
I'll never forget the first time I saw this great car chase sequence in the theater. You felt the seat go away from you as you rode with Steve McQueen in that awesome sounding Mustang. The Plymouth don't sound too bad either. Very memorable.

When that bad guy puts on his seat belt, You just know Sh** is about to hit the fan. I just love the way the music cuts a way and all you hear for the next few minutes are engines roaring, tires squealing, and metal being customized by close calls that missed. I just saw this again yesterday. The film in DVD with the wide screen ... well worth the rental, IMHO.

Ok granted, the blood is a little lame, and the editing could have been a bit tighter, but that chase scene ... gave me goose bumps all over again.
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McQueen's greatest film
rclements311 January 2004
This movie is a great example of how style can prevail over substance in a film. The story is straight-forward enough, but nothing outstanding - Det. Bullitt is assigned to protect a witness who will testify against the mob. He must protect him for about 40 hours, but somehow, hitmen discover the location of the witness and gun him down before he can testify. Then Bullitt must find the hitmen, as well as deal with an identity twist concerning the witness.

However, the music score, tight direction, the car chase, McQueen's performance, and especially Robert Vaughn's performance as a ruthless politician make "Bullitt" worth watching. In fact the performances are excellent all the way through the cast (with the exception of Jacqueline Bisset, who's there only for eye candy and brings nothing special to her role).

Of course, the car chase is the most famous aspect of the film. Simply put, it's the best car chase ever filmed, bar none. It's been copied, and with today's technology, should have been exceeded. Yet it still stands alone. Why?

First, the presence of Steve McQueen - who else could bring it off as well as he did? Second, the era it came from, the late 60's. Films in those days didn't have chases, so it set the standard. There's no camera tricks or special effects to screw it up, what you see is what you get. It's just wouldn't be the same if one of today's big stars got in his BMW to chase another guy in a Porsche, complete with special effects, the obligatory explosions and slow-motion techniques.

If you've never seen it, watch it. If you have seen it, it still holds up after repeated viewings. 9 out of 10.
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