We watched Bullitt over the weekend. To my mind, the most enjoyable part of this movie is the way it allows the viewer to vicariously experience the cold, competent certainty of Steve McQueen. He lives in a universe where everything goes wrong, all the time--and yet he never appears to experience self-doubt. Despite chaos and pressures on all sides--including intimidating higher-ups like the District Attorney--nothing ruffles this guy. He is equally unmoved by flattery, bribes, threats, and criticism. He just coldly does his job, performing the next right action, seemingly needing no emotional support or validation from anyone. By the end of the movie, he has been completely vindicated, and gratifyingly proven to have had the right instincts about everything all along.
Nowhere is this cold, effortless potency more unrealistically dramatized than in his relationship with his girlfriend, played by Jacqueline Bisset. They enjoy a mostly nonverbal sexy relationship...except for one scene which occurs after Jacqueline has accidentally witnessed a tableau of gruesome brutality. This causes her to question where the relationship is going and "whether she really knows him at all" and other girly conundrums which, in a normal relationship on Planet Earth, would mean that the man is now be going to be subjected to hours and hours of feminine blather lasting long into the evening and possibly well into the next day.
However, in the Steve McQueen universe, when his girlfriend asks him, "What will happen to us...in time?"--words that would strike fear into the heart of any other man--he non-answers with a sentence that sounds like a Zen koan: "Time starts now." He gazes intensely into her eyes, and that's that. This bullshit answer seemingly completely satisfies her, and they can now sink back into blissful shared silence. To me, this is both the most unrealistic and also the most gratifying scene in the entire movie.
"Bullitt is a 1968 American thriller film starring Steve McQueen, Jacqueline Bisset, and Robert Vaughn. It was directed by Peter Yates and distributed by Warner Bros. The story was adapted for the screen by Alan Trustman and Harry Kleiner, based on the novel titled Mute Witness (1963) by Robert L. Fish (aka Robert L. Pike). Lalo Schifrin wrote the original music score, a mix of jazz, brass and percussion.
"The film won the Academy Award for Best Film Editing (Frank P. Keller) and was nominated for Best Sound. Writers Trustman and Kleiner won a 1969 Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for Best Motion Picture Screenplay.
"Bullitt is probably best-remembered for its car chase scene through the streets of San Francisco, regarded as one of the most influential car chase sequences in movie history. The scene had Bullitt in a dark "Highland Green" 1968 Ford Mustang 390 CID Fastback, chasing two hit-men in a "Tuxedo Black" 1968 Dodge Charger R/T 440 Magnum.
"In 2007, Bullitt was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant." "