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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.