Steve McQueen in Bullitt (1968)

Slower than a Speeding Bullitt

San Francisco Police Lieutenant Frank Bullitt (Steve McQueen) finds himself personally asked by Walter Chalmers (Robert Vaughn) to baby-sit for the weekend Johnny Ross, a Chicago mobster who has agreed to give evidence at a US Senate subcommittee hearing on organized crime. With his team Bullitt takes the job but after Ross is killed and one of his men is seriously injured he quickly suspects that either Chalmers or Ross himself had told someone where he was being hidden and now Bullitt is going to get to the truth and get his man no matter what.

Have we, as a movie loving population, become so spoilt by what cinema has to offer now that it is getting increasingly harder to be impressed by those older movies which some hold in high regard. I say this because I reckon maybe 20 years ago when I watched an older movie from the 70s or earlier I would often be impressed but now when I approach one of these older movies which audiences have proclaimed classics I am often left unmoved by them. And yes this is what I experienced when I watched "Bullitt" for the first time as whilst a well made movie I was at a loss as to what made it special.

Jacqueline Bisset in Bullitt (1968)

Let me elaborate on this; the story to "Bullitt" is basically Frank trying to get to the bottom of how someone found where the witness was being hold and who is trying to kill him all the time dealing with an ambitious politician who may be behind it but also wants Bullitt's badge. Now there are some twists but this is not the most amazing storyline and whilst the story ticks over it still feels like a movie which is padded out with some scenes, such as one featuring a band playing at a restaurant, having no real point.

What that means for me is that "Bullitt" comes down to the acting and the action and whilst there is one okay car chase scene I can't say the actions did much for me at all. So that leaves the acting and whilst there are other faces such as Robert Vaughn and Jacqueline Bisset "Bullitt" is the Steve McQueen show. But this isn't the charismatic McQueen I like but more a case of him trying to be a man of few words but menacing looks and sadly it wasn't for me. In truth McQueen playing things silently, standing in rooms just looking around and at people was not for me and contributed to that feeling that some scenes have no real purpose.

What this all boils down to is that "Bullitt" is not a bad movie but for me is not the classic which many herald it as being. For me this is a movie which suffers due to its almost silent character's nature and scenes which add nothing but padding.