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. Muleskinner, Weasel Wrangler Member
    Muleskinner, Weasel Wrangler
    @Muleskinner

    EDISONPARKS (View Comment):

    Another nod to Bullitt as best car chase:

    My older brothers(I was still about 9 or 10 in the era) had the 1969 Dodge Charger and my best friend’s older brother and the 1969 Ford Boss 429

    Image result for 1969 dodge charger

    Image result for 1969 boss 429

    Years ago, I was driving north on US 183 about 30 miles south of the junction with US 20. (Pretty much in the middle of nowhere). I was driving a ‘69 Plymouth Fury at what I thought was fairly high rate of speed, and was passed by that pair at a speed that made me think I was setting up on blocks.

    • #61
  2. Roosevelt Guck Inactive
    Roosevelt Guck
    @RooseveltGuck

    This car chase is pretty good, too.

     

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MxxH0lZSYgU

    • #62
  3. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    She (View Comment):

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    She (View Comment):

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    James Gawron (View Comment):

    tiger,

    You know it isn’t just the chase but how the chase ends.

    Regards,

    Jim

    I’m sure @she recognizes the implement that Dan Ackroyd used to remove the screw in the elevator.

    Gosh, yes. Haven’t seen one of those for years. We had one.

    We always called it a Yankee Screwdriver, though I think there’s a technical name for it that I don’t recall. It was one of the required tools when I started doing carpentry.

    There was also a little drill that operated on the same principle.

    We always just called it a ratcheting screwdriver. There was a little slider on the side that made it go forward or reverse, and if you set it in the middle, you could just use it like a regular screwdriver. We didn’t have the drill, although Mr. She has a very small version of same which he used for balsa wood, and other small modeling projects. Very precise.

    It comes up if you google “yankee screwdriver.”

    • #63
  4. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    She (View Comment):
    We didn’t have the drill, although Mr. She has a very small version of same which he used for balsa wood, and other small modeling projects. Very precise.

    The bits for the drill were very small.  I think my wife still has one, too.

    • #64
  5. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    She (View Comment):

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    She (View Comment):

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    James Gawron (View Comment):

    tiger,

    You know it isn’t just the chase but how the chase ends.

    Regards,

    Jim

    I’m sure @she recognizes the implement that Dan Ackroyd used to remove the screw in the elevator.

    Gosh, yes. Haven’t seen one of those for years. We had one.

    We always called it a Yankee Screwdriver, though I think there’s a technical name for it that I don’t recall. It was one of the required tools when I started doing carpentry.

    There was also a little drill that operated on the same principle.

    We always just called it a ratcheting screwdriver. There was a little slider on the side that made it go forward or reverse, and if you set it in the middle, you could just use it like a regular screwdriver. We didn’t have the drill, although Mr. She has a very small version of same which he used for balsa wood, and other small modeling projects. Very precise.

    I have my dad’s yankee screwdriver and I really like it.  One big drawback is that if you’re not careful as you push in and out, your driver comes off the screw and when you push in it leaves a big old cross-hair mark on your wood.  I like it for framing or some such other jobs where that won’t matter.  

    • #65
  6. She Member
    She
    @She

    Skyler (View Comment):

    She (View Comment):

    We always just called it a ratcheting screwdriver. There was a little slider on the side that made it go forward or reverse, and if you set it in the middle, you could just use it like a regular screwdriver. We didn’t have the drill, although Mr. She has a very small version of same which he used for balsa wood, and other small modeling projects. Very precise.

    I have my dad’s yankee screwdriver and I really like it. One big drawback is that if you’re not careful as you push in and out, your driver comes off the screw and when you push in it leaves a big old cross-hair mark on your wood. 

    Yes, I remember it being not terribly useful in “ratcheting” mode, for that very reason.  I also remember many cross-hair marks on my fingers, when I foolishly tried to mitigate that tendency by guiding the bit with the fingers of my other hand.

    • #66
  7. Kim K. Inactive
    Kim K.
    @KimK

    Not exactly a chase, but more of a mad dash. I’ve always thought this one was very funny. Also set on the streets of San Francisco.

    • #67
  8. BastiatJunior Member
    BastiatJunior
    @BastiatJunior

    Saxonburg (View Comment):

    Lots of good suggestions in the comments. Since I am a big Mustang fan, I will not argue with “Bullitt”as the standard. I also really liked the original 1974 “Gone in 60 Seconds” (also a Mustang). However, it has been so long since I last saw it, I wonder how I would rate it now.

    On a more serious note, the level of devastation in the “Blues Brothers” chase seen was absolutely delightful.

    Forgot about that one!

    • #68
  9. Gary Robbins Member
    Gary Robbins
    @GaryRobbins

    Thanks for the clip.

    • #69
  10. The Cloaked Gaijin Member
    The Cloaked Gaijin
    @TheCloakedGaijin

    “The Race to the Opera” from Foul Play was also filmed in San Francisco.

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

    • #70
  11. Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… Coolidge
    Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo…
    @GumbyMark

    Not a car chase and not a full length movie but this is pretty cool.  A short film made in 1976 by Claude Lelouch, best known for his 1966 movie A Man and A Woman. A very fast early morning drive through Paris.  The car is a Mercedes 6.9 but the engine sound is from a Ferrari 275GTB which gave a grittier tone than the Mercedes on which a gyroscopic camera was mounted.  The driver is Lelouch himself.  No permission was granted for the filming which was done in August because in those days Paris became almost deserted for the month long vacation period.  The route is entirely on the Right Bank, starting near the Bois de Boulogne and ending in Montmartre at Sacre Coeur.

    • #71
  12. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… (View Comment):

    Not a car chase and not a full length movie but this is pretty cool. A short film made in 1976 by Claude Lelouch, best known for his 1966 movie A Man and A Woman. A very fast early morning drive through Paris. The car is a Mercedes 6.9 but the engine sound is from a Ferrari 275GTB which gave a grittier tone than the Mercedes on which a gyroscopic camera was mounted. The driver is Lelouch himself. No permission was granted for the filming which was done in August because in those days Paris became almost deserted for the month long vacation period. The route is entirely on the Right Bank, starting near the Bois de Boulogne and ending in Montmartre at Sacre Coeur

    I watched the whole thing. Not bad, but if they had used a wider angle lens it might have seemed to be moving even faster. Earlier this year, when I first started recording some of my bicycle routes with a handlebar-mounted action camera with wide angle lens, I noticed that in the video it seemed I was going a lot faster than I really was, and then figured it was due to the wide angle.  

    • #72
  13. tigerlily Member
    tigerlily
    @tigerlily

    Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… (View Comment):

    Not a car chase and not a full length movie but this is pretty cool. A short film made in 1976 by Claude Lelouch, best known for his 1966 movie A Man and A Woman. A very fast early morning drive through Paris. The car is a Mercedes 6.9 but the engine sound is from a Ferrari 275GTB which gave a grittier tone than the Mercedes on which a gyroscopic camera was mounted. The driver is Lelouch himself. No permission was granted for the filming which was done in August because in those days Paris became almost deserted for the month long vacation period. The route is entirely on the Right Bank, starting near the Bois de Boulogne and ending in Montmartre at Sacre Coeur.

    Thanks Mark. Regarding those month-long August vacations – isn’t this still standard operating procedure in France?

    • #73
  14. Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… Coolidge
    Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo…
    @GumbyMark

    tigerlily (View Comment):

    Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… (View Comment):

    Not a car chase and not a full length movie but this is pretty cool. A short film made in 1976 by Claude Lelouch, best known for his 1966 movie A Man and A Woman. A very fast early morning drive through Paris. The car is a Mercedes 6.9 but the engine sound is from a Ferrari 275GTB which gave a grittier tone than the Mercedes on which a gyroscopic camera was mounted. The driver is Lelouch himself. No permission was granted for the filming which was done in August because in those days Paris became almost deserted for the month long vacation period. The route is entirely on the Right Bank, starting near the Bois de Boulogne and ending in Montmartre at Sacre Coeur.

    Thanks Mark. Regarding those month-long August vacations – isn’t this still standard operating procedure in France?

    The difference is that now in August there are a lot more tourists to fill up the city when the French leave.  

    • #74
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