Combustible Celluloid
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With: Steve McQueen, Jacqueline Bisset, Robert Vaughn, Don Gordon, Simon Oakland, Norman Fell, Robert Duvall, Georg Stanford Brown, Justin Tarr, Carl Reindel, Felice Orlandi, Vic Tayback, Robert Lipton, Ed Peck, Pat Renella
Written by: Alan R. Trustman, Harry Kleiner, based on a novel by Robert L. Pike
Directed by: Peter Yates
MPAA Rating: PG
Running Time: 114
Date: 10/17/1968

Bullitt (1968)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Chase Closed

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Directed by English-born Oscar nominee Peter Yates (Breaking Away, The Dresser), Bullitt takes a rather simple nugget of a story and turns it into a crime classic through the expert use of location footage, editing, music, mood and timing, not to mention the laconic, stoic performance of ultra-cool star Steve McQueen. The movie seems to have stripped away most attempts at character development or artificial suspense, and focuses almost exclusively on details. Indeed, Bullitt's weekend on the job isn't always exciting or action packed.

San Francisco police detective Bullitt (McQueen) is assigned to protect a star witness in a court case designed to bring down a crime syndicate. After a strange turn of events, the witness is shot and brought to the hospital. When he dies on the operating table, Bullitt decides to hide the body and keep the death a secret until he can catch the murderer and find out what's really going on. This will not be an easy task, as an ambitious, sleazy politician, Chalmers (Robert Vaughn) -- who stands to gain if the trial is a success -- is breathing down Bullitt's neck at every turn.

The movie is justly famous today for its famous car chase sequence, which feels fast and realisitc, shot at ground level with hardly any musical enhancement; many credit the film as giving birth to the modern police movie. (The movie won an Oscar for Best Editing.) It was a huge hit in its day, but today it may move too slow for modern-day viewers.

Jacqueline Bisset co-stars as Bullitt's sexy girlfriend, and a young Robert Duvall plays a cab driver.

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