image32-1024x614These days, Bullitt‘s reputation is built almost entirely on the exhilarating eleven-minute car chase. Even people who have never seen the movie have seen that scene, or at least have heard of it or seen it referenced in other media. This isn’t without reason; it’s a damn good car chase, full of screeching tires, the guttural growl of V8 engines, and a distractingly persistent green Volkswagen Beetle. But all the focus on the chase scene can sometimes cause people to forget that surrounding the damn good car chase is a damn good cop film, one with a gritty cinéma vérité style predictive of the filmmaking that would rise to prominence in the 1970s. Plus, you know, there’s Steve McQueen.

Keith Allison is the chief bacchanologist at MEZZANOTTE.

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