Reblogged » To Have A Soul over at Mr. Peel’s Sardine Liqueur.
Yesterday, Michael Parent, writing for Anomalous Material, included the underrated film Bullitt by the late Peter Yates in his fine The Top 10 Films of the Year 1968 piece. In reaction to that, you might be thinking: “Wait. Every Steve McQueen fans knows what a cool flick this is. How can you say it’s underrated?”. Well, I’ve come to believe that it’s trivialized because of that fact. The film continues to be dismissed as just a 60s cool star-vehicle (yes, the car reference was intentional, folks) for McQueen.
“Agreed, Bullitt is great film making on every level. It really brought the genre into (what was then) the modern age. Prior to Bullitt, police procedurals had a 1940s-1950s flavor to them.”
Nailed it. Both Michael’s and John’s articles got me thinking why I’m of the belief Bullitt remains more than a pastiche of McQueen’s cool blues and a classic car chase. IMO, nothing distinguishes it better than one astute look at the film by a writer here in Los Angeles. The one who regularly pens some extraordinary film essays on his blog, the wonderfully titled Mr. Peel’s Sardine Liqueur, wrote an appreciation of the film following the passing of Peter Yates last year:
“Bullitt buying groceries. For some reason, that’s what I always think of. In the middle of this film with one of the most celebrated car chases ever put on celluloid, as well as a few other pretty damn great sequences as well, I always find myself thinking about those tiny moments of behavior from Steve McQueen that we get to witness throughout as we do nothing more than observe the man who is Bullitt. Patting down his hair, that gesture of grateful thanks to that nurse who brings him some food and that glare in his eyes every time he stares down Robert Vaughn. And of course that way he stacks up those TV dinners in the tiny shop across the street from his apartment, not paying any attention to what they are but he knows that he’ll need to eat something when not dealing with the annoyance of the whole Johnny Ross case or dallying with Jacqueline Bisset during nights out.”
If you’ve enjoyed this flick, or maybe not as much as others, I heartily recommend reading Peter Avellino‘s (aka Mr. Peel) stellar assessment of a film that too often gets kicked to the curb with faint praise.