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 Ross, and why Ross has seemingly made it so easy for "them" to find him. As Bullitt enlists the help of his live-in artist girlfriend Cathy over the weekend and as she sees for the first time with what he deals every day, she wonders if he is indeed the man with whom she should be.
Lt. Frank Bullitt is selected by Walter Chalmers, a politician with ambition, to guard a Mafia informant. Bullitt's friend and underling is shot and the witness is left at death's door by two hit men who seemed to know exactly where the the witness was hiding. Bullitt begins a search for both the killer and the leak, but he must keep the witness alive long enough to make sure the killers return. Chalmers has no interest in the injured policeman or the killers, only in the hearings that will catapult him into the public eye and wants to shut down Bullitt's investigation.
"Bullitt" is a classic crime thriller with a legendary car chase, an absorbing plot and a level of realism that makes it compelling to watch. It cleverly combines thrills, action and excitement with intrigue, intelligence and subtlety and features a hero who, for his time, was very atypical. The visual style of the movie is particularly dark and the toughness of its characters is emphasised by their no-frills dialogue.
After a witness is flown down to San Francisco from Chicago to testify against the Mafia in a Senate Committee hearing which is due to be held in a few days time, Detective Lieutenant Frank Bullitt (Steve McQueen) is assigned to the task of protecting the informant. The Chairman of the Committee, Senator Walter Chalmers (Robert Vaughn) had personally selected Bullitt for the job and is determined to ensure that nothing untoward happens to the witness who is introduced as Johnny Ross (Felice Orlandi).
Bullitt arranges for Ross to be hidden out in a cheap grade hotel and given 24 hour protection but shortly after putting these arrangements in place both Ross and one of Bullitt's colleagues are gunned down by two hit men. Senator Chalmers is furious and determined that Bullitt should be punished. Bullitt, however, is convinced that there is something very suspicious about the circumstances of the shooting which left the two men critically injured and pursues the remainder of the investigation on his own.
Throughout his investigation Bullitt continues to be harassed and threatened by Chalmers but eventually it's his checks into the background of Johnny Ross that uncover the information which proves to be critical in bringing the case to a satisfactory conclusion.
"Bullitt" is widely credited as having had a powerful influence on the type of crime thrillers which were made in the years immediately following its release and Steve McQueen's character is also seen as a template for the large number of "maverick cops" who would later become such a familiar staple of the genre.
The movie's famous car chase which ends spectacularly, is exciting, brilliantly choreographed and skilfully edited. It stands up extremely well by contemporary standards and clearly merits all the praise that it's been given over the years.
The level of realism seen in "Bullitt" is impressive and was achieved by using techniques which had previously been employed in docu-noirs and Italian neo-realist movies in the years following World War 11. Meticulous attention was paid to researching police and medical procedures so that they could be depicted as accurately as possible and the use of medical and police staff as extras ensured that the on-screen action looked as authentic as possible.
Frank Bullitt is a man whose emotions appear to have been numbed by his experience of having to confront violence and crime on a daily basis but there are occasions when his real feelings become more obvious e.g. when he's with his girlfriend Cathy (Jacqueline Bisset) and when he accompanies his injured colleague to hospital. His manner is generally cool and rather aloof but his level of determination is also obvious as he stays totally focused on his pursuit of the criminals despite all the pressure and threats that he routinely has to endure. The extraordinarily charismatic McQueen is faultless and totally convincing in portraying the various aspects of Bullitt's complex character.
There are a number of good supporting performances but the one that stands out comes from Robert Vaughn who excels as the despicable Senator whose ambition and arrogance have made him completely corrupt and self serving.
"Bullitt" is thoroughly entertaining, very memorable and undoubtedly deserves its classic status. Bullitt is an insanely boring movie. Boring, boring, boring.
I remembered watching parts of it -- including the famous car chase -- when I was a kid, and not liking it, and now that I'm older, with a better appreciation of classic cinema, I thought I would give it another try.
Big mistake. This film brings new meaning to the word dull. If you enjoy watching long stretches of bland actors doing absolutely nothing of interest, then this movie is for you. If interesting to you is watching five minutes of Steve McQueen driving home from the hospital, parallel parking, locking his car, walking across the street, buying some vegetables and TV dinners, walking down the sidewalk, climbing up the stairs to his apartment, etc ad infinitum... then don't let me stand in your way. But if you have a pulse, and expect one from your movies, don't touch this one with a ten-foot pole.
The only people I can see enjoying this are those who find the circa-1968 San Francisco locations inherently interesting -- and they are really only put to good use during that car chase -- or those who buy into the Steve McQueen mystique. Well, I don't. McQueen has the charisma of a sack of doorknobs. If his personality is best displayed here in this, his most famous role, then I have zero desire to ever see another one of his films.
And about that car chase: BORING!! I can't even imagine it being of interest to 1968 audiences, when such extended car chases were still novelties, and for audiences of today -- they have more exciting chases on Touched by an Angel. Best car chase ever? Ridiculous. It's as dull as the rest of this interminable film. If you want to see a real car chase, watch Ronin.
Bullitt is a relic. Its rep is built on the cult of McQueen. It is utterly lacking in appeal. Peter Yates-directed cop thriller that relies on McQueen's chiseled features to hold an audience's attention through what's essentially a 45-minute TV show stretched to two hours. Aside from the famous car chase through the streets of San Francisco, Bullitt is primarily watchable for McQueen's performance as a cop breaking the rules to break a case, as well as all the '68 cinema signifiers: lens flares, soft-focus foregrounds, a jazzy Lalo Schifrin score, and vivid location shooting. Lieutenant Frank Bullitt (Steve McQueen), Sergeant Delgetti (Don Gordon), and Detective Carl Stanton (Carl Reindel) of the San Francisco Police Department are charged by ambitious politician Walter Chalmers (Robert Vaughn) (who is holding a Senate subcommittee hearing on organized crime in two days) with guarding Johnny Ross (Pat Renella), the key witness against Johnny's mobster brother Pete Ross (Vic Tayback). When Johnny's hotel room is broken into and both he and Stanton are shot, Chalmers seems more interested in placing blame on Bullitt's negligence. When Johnny later dies, Bullitt (with the help of Johnny's doctor) decides to hide his body in an attempt to find out who murdered him. Bullitt is based on Mute Witness (1963) by American writer Robert L. Fish [1912-1981]. The novel was adapted for the film by screenwriters Alan Trustman and Harry Kleiner. "A Song for Cathy" composed by Lalo Schifrin. Yes. It's at the corner of Taylor and Clay Streets in the Nob Hill section of San Francisco. The building where Bullitt lives is right across Clay St at the same intersection. Also, the address given for the Daniels Hotel and the phone number of Coffee Cantata are real places, too. Bullitt contrived to keep his death secret because he feared Chalmers, who had no interest in finding the killers, would, through his obvious influence with SFPD brass, have any investigation quashed. Chalmers' only interest was in the publicity from the Senate hearings which, with his key witness dead, would either not occur or be only negative. Granted, all the hotel clerk said is "Sunshine Cab". Bullitt then left the hotel and immediately found the cab driver (Robert Duvall) at the Car Wash. Viewers who have noted this "plot hole" explain it in two ways; (1) Delgetti or Bullitt phoned or went (offscreen) to the cab company to check their records, or (2) the cab driver was assigned to that area and was known to Bullitt. From phone records. The cab driver informs Bullitt that Ross made two calls from a certain phone booth, the second one being long distance (as "He put in a lot of change"). From phone records, Bullitt learns that Ross called Dorothy Simmons person-to-person at the Thunderbolt Motel in San Mateo nine hours before Ross was murdered. In her luggage, Bullitt finds thousands of dollars in traveler's checks issued to Albert Renick and Dorothy Renick as well as travel brochures to Rome, Italy, but no airplane tickets or passports. It's at this point that Bullitt starts putting together the pieces of the puzzle. The chase began because the hitmen had been following Bullitt in hopes that he would lead them to Johnny Ross so that they could finish the job. However, during the first part of the chase, when they're driving at normal city speeds, Bullitt tricks them into passing him in order to see their faces. Now that Bullitt can identify at least one of them, they may have decided to kill him, but when Bullitt outmaneuvered them, they were simply trying to get away. Actually, the car chase was out of sequence moving in seconds from one end of the city to another. Places they pass in the chase include Russian Hill, Bernal Heights, Marina Blvd near Crissy Fields, Potero Hill. John McLaren Park, and ends on Highway 1. It's said that they wanted to perform the chase across the Golden Gate Bridge but couldn't get permission. For two reasons: (1) to kill Dorothy Renick, and (2) to retrieve the passports and airline tickets so that he could get out of the country under a false identity. When he finds the traveler's checks in Dorothy's luggage, Bullitt requests a copy of their passport applications from the Immigration Department in Chicago. At Ross' autopsy, it's noted by the coroner that Ross has multiple surgical scars to his face. When the passport photos come through, Bullitt realizes that the man Chalmers sent him to guard, the man who was shot in the hotel room, was actually used car salesman Albert Renick, surgically altered to look like Johnny Ross, and he concludes that Renick was set up by Ross to take the fall. Unconfirmed Pan American airline tickets to Rome in the Renicks' names are located at the San Francisco airport, so Bullitt and Delgetti go in search of Ross, standing near the gate, waiting for him to board the flight, but Ross doesn't show. On a hunch, Bullitt phones Passenger Service to see whether Renick might have changed his tickets and learns that he was just reassigned to a departing flight to London. Bullitt calls Flight Control and requests that the flight return to the gate. He and Delgetti rush to that gate, and Bullitt boards the flight while the passengers are being made to debark and wait in the departure lounge. He spots Ross at the back of the plane. Knowing that he's been caught, Ross dashes for a tail exit, jumps off the plane, and leads Bullitt on a foot chase over the tarmac. Ross pulls out a gun and shoots at Bullitt then runs back into the terminal where he is eventually caught between two glass doors and shot by Bullitt. Chalmers, who has been waiting at the airport to take custody of his key witness, sees the shooting go down. Bullitt returns to his apartment to find Cathy (Jacqueline Bisset) asleep. He puts down his gun and washes his hands. Up until 1967, aircraft hijackings were still relatively rare, having averaged only one per year since 1958. A passenger could board a flight carrying a gun, and nobody would be any the wiser (incomprehensible today). So, it was still easy to bring a weapon onto an airplane when this movie was filmed in 1968. It wasn't until 5 January, 1973, that the Federal Aviation Administration started requiring airports screen passengers and carry-on baggage for obvious weapons and explosives. Viewers who have liked the chase scene in Bullitt recommend starting with Robbery (1967) (1967), a dramatization of the Great Train Robbery and directed by Peter Yates, who also directed Bullitt. Following Bullitt, the number of movies with good chase scenes proliferated. Some of the recommended ones include: Cotton Comes to Harlem (1970) (1970), The French Connection (1971) (1971), Vanishing Point (1971) (1971), Shaft's Big Score! (1972) (1972), What's Up, Doc? (1972) (1972), which spoofs the chase from Bullitt, Cleopatra Jones (1973) (1973), Live and Let Die (1973) (1973), where the chase takes place in boats, The Seven-Ups (1973) (1973), which reuses the Bullitt soundtrack during a similar chase scene, Gone in 60 Seconds (1974) (1974), Dirty Mary Crazy Larry (1974) (1974), Truck Turner (1974) (1974), Smokey and the Bandit (1977) (1977), and The Driver (1978) (1978). Because Johnny isn't really Johnny Ross. He is a look-alike named Albert Renick. The plan was that Johnny Ross would disappear and not have to testify at the senatorial committee, so he believes that the caller is there to help him to escape and then disappear. He is surprised when the gunman shoots Stanton and then turns the gun on him. a5c7b9f00b
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