Classic Intel: Bullitt - Online Review

'show me a man who can look manly and intimidating in a pair of flower print pyjamas and I'll show you a movie star'

Primarily notable for two things (a charging green Mustang and an iconic poster) Bullitt is more than the sum of its conveniently marketable imagery.

For a start, as star turns go, you'd struggle to find a more compelling one than Steve McQueen's performance as the titular detective. The man oozes presence. He oozes it when he's taking part in the legendary car chase. He oozes it the final scenes, whilst sticking it to the man. He oozes it in his introduction where, for God's sake, the costume department have dressed him in a pair of flower-print pyjamas. Show me a man who can look manly and intimidating in a pair of flower print pyjamas and I'll show you a movie star.

The nominal 'mystery' - about a hit on a gangland informant - is never really all that involving because the outcome is perfunctory. Whether it had something to do with political mover Chalmers (Robert Vaughn) is by-the-by in the end, ditto any other possible outcome. The thrill is all in the chase, perfectly orchestrated by McQueen's choice of director Peter Yates. The hunt for the mob men becomes an excuse for tense creeping round hospital basements and that chase around the outskirts and narrow streets of San Francisco, for which the sound department should have been ladled with awards (they settled for an Oscar nomination).

Fans might cry heresy but the only significant miss-step in the film feels like the casting of Jacqueline Bisset, as Bullitt's love interest. Bisset, English and speaking with an extremely clipped accent, feels out of place with all the smoothness happening elsewhere and isn't helped by Yates or screenwriters Alan Trustman and Harry Kleiner, who push her out to the margins and give her standardised 'how can you love this horrible job?' guff to speak. Still, she ups the coolness stakes when she turns up to work dressed in what can only be described as one of McQueen's shirts and not a lot else, typifying the delicate in-vogue stylisation so prevalent in everything about Bullitt, excluding, for the most part, her character.

Bullitt is available on LOVEFiLM's Watch Online service.

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'so the story’s about as deep as a Law & Order episode and, for some reason, it works best when it doesn’t try to go any deeper than that, but those minor flaws are easily overshadowed by everything else that’s so effing boss' - Cut The Crap Movie Reviews, 9/10


  1. Yep iconic car chase, iconic actor, iconic film! I love Bullit and it is certainly near on if not McQueen's best film.

  2. I've only seen the car chase scene on YouTube, which I thought was ok. As far as Steve McQueen goes, I just saw him in The Getaway, I didn't like the film at all, but he does have screen charisma.

  3. BRENT - really enjoyed it too. I need to check out more McQueen but yes, of the ones I've seen, this is probably top.

    Ruth - The car chase is even better in the context of what's happening in the film. The whole thing is well worth a watch if you get hold of it!