(Review originally written at 22 March 2007)

Many movies from the late '60's can also be put in the '70's category, in terms of its style. "Bullitt" is just as raw and realistic as any other '70's movie from the same genre. For its time period especially this movie is a very 'cool' movie to watch, the reason why this movie is being regarded as being one of the coolest ever made.

I totally love the style of "Bullitt". It's raw and straight-forward but above all also realistic. Nothing in the movie feels forced. this is due to the way the story is written and told and it's dialogs and the actors that deliver the lines. The movie is not as exaggeratedly fast paced as with today's genre movies too often is the case and instead is toned down, to give the movie an overall realistic feeling.

Also the wonderful directing by Peter Yates provides the movie with its very own suiting atmosphere and style. There are some very style-full directed sequences in this movie.

Best known of those sequence is of course the car chase, through San Fransico, with the famous Mustang in it. What I perhaps like best about the chase is its build up. No way that without the build the whole chase would had been so thrilling and adrenaline pumping as it is now. The Lalo Schifrin score, Steve McQueen's Mustang slowly appearing in the bad guy's back mirror, then the sudden burnout from the bad guys and the chase begins. All adds perfectly to the build up of the actual chase. I think that it's also an absolute great thing that the chase itself has no music or any lines spoken in it, just the sound of the car's engines and spinning wheels. It let the actor's facial expressions and the sound tell the excitement and danger of the whole situation. The chase itself uses many fantastic camera-positions and editing (Oscar win), that also would influence many other later chase sequences. Of course the city of San Fransisco is also the perfect backdrop for a car chase sequence, with its steep hills. The scene is deservedly so a classic. Even those who have never seen "Bullitt" knows its car chase.

But just like with "North by Northwest" is the case, it's most famous sequence is the crop-duster sequence but I like the end sequence on Mount Rushmore even better. Same thing goes for "Bullitt". It's most famous sequence is the car chase but I like the end sequence on the airport even better. It's tense, dark, realistic and it overall is a great climax that suits the movie perfectly. The opening sequence of the movie is also one definitely worth mentioning.

The story itself is a great typical cop-movie story, that is solidly constructed and features some nice twists (not what you think).

The movie is greatly carried by Steve McQueen, who shows why he was nicknamed the King Of Cool. He really was the greatest and coolest movie icon of the '60's. He plays the character raw and tough but never without a sense for honor and honesty. It makes his character both tough and likable. The movie also has a great supporting cast with Robert Vaughn (who still basically looked the same then as he does now), Jacqueline Bisset and Robert Duvall in a small (and insignificant) and early role.

An essential '60's viewing and not just because of its famous car chase.


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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