In one of his most memorable roles, Steve McQueen stars as Detective Frank Bullitt, a hard-driving, tough-as-nails San Francisco cop. Bullitt has just received what sounds like a routine assignment: keep a star witness out of sight and out of danger for 48 hours, then deliver him to the courtroom on Monday morning. But before the night is out, the witness will lie dying of shotgun wounds, and Bullitt, a no-glitter, all-guts cop, won’t rest until he nabs the gunmen and the elusive underworld kingpin who hired them. From opening shot to closing shootout, Peter Yates’s edge-of-the seat thriller is packed with authentic touches, from on-location San Francisco filming and believably crisp dialogue to uncompromisingly detailed police, hospital, and morgue procedures. The most memorable scene is Bullitt‘s celebrated car chase. McQueen, an expert automobile and motorcycle racer, does his own stunt driving as he propels his high-performance Mustang GT around and over San Francisco’s fabled hills at speeds up to 115 miles an hour. The film is based on Robert L. Pike’s book, Mute Witness.
Yates began staging plays in the British provinces at the age of 19 and worked as an assistant to J. Lee Thompson and Tony Richardson in the early 1960s. He then alternated between film and TV work and made his feature debut with “Summer Holiday” (1963). Yates’ early work exhibited a talent for fast-paced action, reflected in such films as “Bullitt” (1968), which included one of the most harrowing car chases ever filmed, and “The Friends of Eddie Coyle” (1973). In a change of pace, he directed the coming-of-age comedy-drama “Breaking Away” (1979). During the 1980s Yates crafted a number of fine, character-driven studies such as “The Dresser” (1983) with Tom Courtenay and Albert Finney, “Eleni” (1985) and “Suspect” (1987). In the 90s, he worked sporadically, helming “Roommates” with Peter Falk, and reuniting with Finney for the Irish drama “The Run of the Country” (both 1995). —TCM.com
A propulsive survey of scores focusing on the thriller: procedurals, bank heists, neo-noirs, spy films, giallos, and sci-fi mind-games.
Also: David Thomson on Steve McQueen and Carolyn Kellogg on politics in Hollywood.
Nikki Finke "has learned that English film director and producer and four-time Oscar nominee Peter Yates — who helmed such celebrated and