Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Bullitt: The Car Chase

 

What was the greatest car chase scene of all time? I don’t really know; but, if I had to pick one – I’d pick the chase scene from the 1968 movie Bullitt. There were car chase scenes in the movies long before Bullitt (lots of ’em), and there have been even more car chase scenes in the movies since Bullitt. But, Bullitt is a dividing line — car chase scenes after were and still are measured against the Bullitt chase scene. That full scene (a little over ten minutes in length) is below. I should note that when I started to put this post together it took a while to find the complete scene (at least in a form that could be pasted here on Ricochet), which was a little surprising.

It never gets old watching that 1968 Ford Mustang GT 390 and 1968 Dodge Charger R/T 440 race pell-mell through the streets of San Francisco. If you want to know more about where exactly the Mustang and Charger were racing in San Francisco this web page provides details and photos (from 1968 and more recently) of the physically impossible route traversed during the chase. And if you want to learn more details about the making of the chase scene I’ve posted a nine-minute video below which discusses the making of the movie with an emphasis on the car chase. The driver of the Charger is Bill Hickman, maybe the most famous stunt driver of all time, he also played important roles in the chase scenes in The French Connection and The Seven-Ups, among many others. As for the Mustang, Steve McQueen did some of the driving but the more dangerous scenes were performed by stunt drivers Carey Loftin and Loren Janes while Bud Ekins laid down the motorcycle.

Earlier in the post, I mentioned that there were many car chase scenes in the movies pre-Bullitt. I thought I’d post one. I was looking to post the scene from the end of High Sierra, but I couldn’t find it, so this scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s 1940 movie Foreign Correspondent will have to do (it’s about four minutes long).

Foreign Correspondent is a great movie and Hitchcock was a great director. The chase scene was probably better than most at the time but it’s just not that realistic when compared to Bullitt. Of course, this isn’t a fair comparison – the technology had vastly improved a quarter century later and audiences also expected more realism.

Feel free to put your two cents in on either your favorite car chase scene(s) or what you consider the best car chase scene from the movies.

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  1. Barfly Member

    The Bullitt chase is archetypal, easily the best I’ve ever seen. The chase in The Dead Pool is my second favorite.

    • #1
    • June 22, 2019, at 10:17 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  2. Hoyacon Member

    I can’t really argue with Bullitt. And I’m doing some personal goal-post setting and trying to avoid the recent generation of films in the computer-graphics era (e.g., Fast and Furious, Gone in 60 seconds etc.). I’m not that familiar with them anyway.

    My vote goes to William Friedkin’s attempt to top himself and the French Connection chase in the almost-forgotten To Live and Die in L.A. Wang Chung soundtrack notwithstanding.

    • #2
    • June 22, 2019, at 10:20 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  3. Hartmann von Aue Member

    The car chase in The French Connection is my candidate.

    • #3
    • June 22, 2019, at 10:20 AM PDT
    • 10 likes
  4. tigerlily Member
    tigerlily

    Barfly (View Comment):

    The Bullitt chase is archetypal, easily the best I’ve ever seen. The chase in The Dead Pool is my second favorite.

    Yeah, that was a good one! Also a San Francisco chase.

    • #4
    • June 22, 2019, at 10:24 AM PDT
    • Like
  5. Muleskinner, Weasel Wrangler Member

    Now you’re going to make me count the number of hubcaps that fly off the Charger again, aren’t you? Or is there an official count somewhere?

    • #5
    • June 22, 2019, at 10:38 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  6. tigerlily Member
    tigerlily

    Muleskinner, Weasel Wrangler (View Comment):

    Now you’re going to make me count the number of hubcaps that fly off the Charger again, aren’t you? Or is there an official count somewhere?

    No, nor do you have to count the number of times the cars pass the Green VW.

    • #6
    • June 22, 2019, at 10:44 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  7. Misthiocracy got drunk and Member
    Misthiocracy got drunk andJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I’m a fan of winter car chase from The Living Daylights. I think it’s the best car chase of any James Bond movie (though the parking garage chase from Tomorrow Never Dies and the chase down the Greek hills from For Your Eyes Only give it a run for its money).

    • #7
    • June 22, 2019, at 11:13 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  8. EDISONPARKS Member
    EDISONPARKSJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I vote Bullitt as best car chase if for no other reason than Steve McQueen defined cool.

    Often times 1968 cool does not resonate 50 years later …. Steve McQueen’s cool never goes away.

    Image result for steve mcqueen bullitt

    • #8
    • June 22, 2019, at 11:43 AM PDT
    • 10 likes
  9. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White MaleJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Also set in San Francisco: What’s up, Doc.

    • #9
    • June 22, 2019, at 12:06 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
  10. Eustace C. Scrubb Member

    Sure, Bullitt wins for a straight car chase… but for a comic car chase, Blues Brothers rules:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bz81ZO0qfvI

    • #10
    • June 22, 2019, at 12:08 PM PDT
    • 13 likes
  11. Tex929rr Coolidge

    The engine sounds were dubbed in from a GT40, and used yet again in the Seven-Ups car chase. If making the movie today, they could use a stock GT350 with the Voodoo engine not need dubbed in sound.

    • #11
    • June 22, 2019, at 12:33 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  12. Percival Thatcher
    PercivalJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Hartmann von Aue (View Comment):

    The car chase in The French Connection is my candidate.

    I’m with Hartmann on this one. The chase in Bullit doesn’t have a baby carriage in it, now does it?

    • #12
    • June 22, 2019, at 12:37 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  13. Hoyacon Member

    Percival (View Comment):

    Hartmann von Aue (View Comment):

    The car chase in The French Connection is my candidate.

    I’m with Hartmann on this one. The chase in Bullit doesn’t have a baby carriage in it, now does it?

    The Untouchables does. But that’s in a train station.

     

    • #13
    • June 22, 2019, at 12:54 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  14. Tex929rr Coolidge

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    Hartmann von Aue (View Comment):

    The car chase in The French Connection is my candidate.

    I’m with Hartmann on this one. The chase in Bullit doesn’t have a baby carriage in it, now does it?

    The Untouchables does. But that’s in a train station.

     

    And all these are sort of like the Wilhelm scream – an in joke for movie buffs, I think. (Look up Odessa steps baby carriage if you’ve never heard of it).

    • #14
    • June 22, 2019, at 12:59 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  15. Mountie Coolidge

    My wife owns a ‘65 Mustang that has been in her family since the day it left the showroom (her uncle bought it, later gave it to her grandmother, who gave it to her father, who gave it to her). My dad bought a ‘65 off the showroom which was the family car until ‘73. So I’m partial to the breed. My biased opinion is that the Bullitt chase is the best. 

    McQueens car in the movie has an interesting history as well. Here’s a good read on it:

    https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2018/01/14/mustang-bullitt-found-real-mcqueen

     

     

     

     

     

     

    • #15
    • June 22, 2019, at 1:04 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  16. Vectorman Member

    Percival (View Comment):
    I’m with Hartmann on this one. The chase in Bullit doesn’t have a baby carriage in it, now does it?

    Tex929rr (View Comment):
    And all these are sort of like the Wilhelm scream – an in joke for movie buffs, I think. (Look up Odessa steps baby carriage if you’ve never heard of it).

    For Both of you, the famous Baby Carriage scene from Battleship Potemkin 1925 (Eisenstein):

    • #16
    • June 22, 2019, at 1:32 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  17. Hoyacon Member

    Tex929rr (View Comment):

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    Hartmann von Aue (View Comment):

    The car chase in The French Connection is my candidate.

    I’m with Hartmann on this one. The chase in Bullit doesn’t have a baby carriage in it, now does it?

    The Untouchables does. But that’s in a train station.

     

    And all these are sort of like the Wilhelm scream – an in joke for movie buffs, I think. (Look up Odessa steps baby carriage if you’ve never heard of it).

    DePalma has done quite well by only stealing from the best.

     

    • #17
    • June 22, 2019, at 1:32 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  18. Full Size Tabby Member

    I’m not going to cite a particular favorite, but this topic provides an opportunity to rant on how terrible most car chases have gotten since the advent of computer graphics. I find car chases in movies from the 1970’s and 1980’s much more satisfying than most of the more modern fare because the older ones were more realistic in that the cars had to actually perform the stunts, and they tend to have longer shots, rather than the more modern rapid cut and splice techniques that make it hard to follow exactly what’s going on. 

    Hence, I appreciate the original Gone in 60 Seconds (1974) because they used only a single Mustang throughout the movie (though they had to do some significant patching after a stunt driver missed a mark and the Mustang hit a lamp post it wasn’t supposed to). 

    A chase that is funny (and full of illogic) is from a movie Short Time (1990). I have not been able to find the entire movie. Apparently the premise of the movie is that a police officer received a medical diagnosis that he has only a few months to live. But if he can get himself killed in the line of duty before he dies of the disease his family (and in particular his son who needs a way to pay for college) gets a city insurance pay-out. So he takes ridiculous risks in the chase in an effort to get himself killed (which he does not succeed in doing).

    Ronin (1998) has several good chases. My favorite is the chase through Paris being led by a BMW 5 series. 

    One of the few modern car chases I like is from The Bourne Supremacy (2004). Yes, they use tricks to make cars do things that are not physically possible, it is mostly quick cuts that I find annoying, and there are continuity problems (damage seen at one moment is not there in a subsequent scene), but the innovations the filmmakers developed to allow a camera to film the star in the car during the chase made the sequence very exciting. 

     

    • #18
    • June 22, 2019, at 2:00 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  19. Scott Wilmot Member

    It is not cars but I always like this chase scene from Terminator 2.

    • #19
    • June 22, 2019, at 2:36 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  20. Hoyacon Member

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    Ronin (1998) has several good chases. My favorite is the chase through Paris being led by a BMW 5 series.

    A really good action movie IMO. I’m a sucker for espionage flicks set in Europe. Unfortunately one now must suspend disbelief on DeNiro and pretend one isn’t watching an [expletive].

     

    • #20
    • June 22, 2019, at 2:58 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  21. GLDIII Temporarily Essential Reagan
    GLDIII Temporarily EssentialJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    If we are going for purity, this one stunt at the end of the chase scene from the James Bond movie, The Man with the Golden Gun has my vote. It was done using a computer to calculate the ramps and launch speed required in a pre computer graphics era, and it was completed in a single shot.

    • #21
    • June 22, 2019, at 3:31 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  22. Retail Lawyer Member

    EDISONPARKS (View Comment):

    I vote Bullitt as best car chase if for no other reason than Steve McQueen defined cool.

    Often times 1968 cool does not resonate 50 years later …. Steve McQueen’s cool never goes away.

    Image result for steve mcqueen bullitt

    Exactly! Those cold blue eyes! He had a motorcycle collection. One of his former machines just sold at auction. Motorcycle Classics magazine reported the sale, observing the “McQueen effect” still obtains, meaning it went for 2 or 3 times the money it would have if he had not owned it once.

    My favorite car from the movie is the Porsche 356 owned by his girlfriend.

    • #22
    • June 22, 2019, at 5:25 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  23. tigerlily Member
    tigerlily

    Retail Lawyer (View Comment):

    EDISONPARKS (View Comment):

    I vote Bullitt as best car chase if for no other reason than Steve McQueen defined cool.

    Often times 1968 cool does not resonate 50 years later …. Steve McQueen’s cool never goes away.

    Image result for steve mcqueen bullitt

    Exactly! Those cold blue eyes! He had a motorcycle collection. One of his former machines just sold at auction. Motorcycle Classics magazine reported the sale, observing the “McQueen effect” still obtains, meaning it went for 2 or 3 times the money it would have if he had not owned it once.

    My favorite car from the movie is the Porsche 356 owned by his girlfriend.

    I’d rather have his girlfriend with or without the car.

    • #23
    • June 22, 2019, at 5:32 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  24. Misthiocracy got drunk and Member
    Misthiocracy got drunk andJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):

    Also set in San Francisco: What’s up, Doc.

    When you can’t afford to hire Robert Redford, there’s always Ryan O’Neal.

    • #24
    • June 22, 2019, at 6:36 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  25. Misthiocracy got drunk and Member
    Misthiocracy got drunk andJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Scott Wilmot (View Comment):

    It is not cars but I always like this chase scene from Terminator 2.

    Well, if we’re just going to ignore the rules entirely :

    • #25
    • June 22, 2019, at 6:51 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  26. The Reticulator Member

    That was good. I kind of like the one in Beware the Car (Береги́сь автомоби́ля). It starts around 47:00

    https://youtu.be/q0nbvdj_NZo?t=2820

    .

    • #26
    • June 22, 2019, at 7:32 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  27. tigerlily Member
    tigerlily

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    That was good. I kind of like the one in Beware the Car (Береги́сь автомоби́ля). It starts around 47:00

    https://youtu.be/q0nbvdj_NZo?t=2820

    .

    That was… different…

    • #27
    • June 22, 2019, at 7:46 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  28. Doctor Robert Member

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):

    Also set in San Francisco: What’s up, Doc.

    Best Chase Ever.

    • #28
    • June 22, 2019, at 9:04 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  29. Juliana Member

    I do like the movie long chase in It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.

    • #29
    • June 22, 2019, at 10:52 PM PDT
    • 9 likes
  30. JosePluma Thatcher

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):

    Also set in San Francisco: What’s up, Doc.

    You beat me to it. . .this was an obvious send-up of Bullett. 

    • #30
    • June 22, 2019, at 11:12 PM PDT
    • 4 likes

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