Bullitt was a smash hit crime thriller, and comprised of one of the most scintillating car chase sequences ever filmed. That it also stressed on the dubious relationship between police investigation and political interference, had a cop as its lead who regularly challenges authority and due processes, and prefers ends over means, and was imbued with a gritty and grimy urban feel, ensured that it acted as a trend-setter for Hollywood in the years to come. Adapted from the Robert L. Fish novel Mute Witness by Yates for his first American movie, it had Steve McQueen, in one of his most famous screen roles, as its eponymous protagonist Frank Bullitt, a tough, taciturn and no-nonsense police detective. A seemingly routine job goes awry when a witness for the State against the Mafia who he’s asked to protect, is ambushed at his hide-out by professional assassins. Bullitt feels there’s something amiss at the turn of events, and using his hunch he decides to continue with his investigation on his own, and this earns him the wrath of an ambitious politician (Robert Vaughn) for whom the witness was a key political trump-card. That his detachment towards the dirt and violence around him is making his stunningly attractive fiancée (Jacqueline Bisset) increasingly wary, added a third, albeit minor, dimension to the storyline. Right from the stylish opening credits accompanied by a fine jazz score, it kept me glued to the screen. And that reached its feverish height during the near-10 minute chase sequence where Bullitt, in his Ford Mustang, is madly following the antagonists in a Dodge Charger all across San Francisco – the engine roar and screeching tires of the muscle cars made for the perfect score for the segment.
Director: Peter Yates
Genre: Thriller/Crime Thriller