Bullitt Movie Poster Image

Bullitt

(i)

 

Great chase scene still works in violent, classic cop tale.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The ambitious politician Chalmers wishes to bring down a crime syndicate, but also threatens to bring in his own brand of graft and corruption. On the other hand, Detective Bullitt uses slightly shady methods (like hiding a dead body), but in the name of justice. The detective manages to triumph over his more powerful foes, but otherwise a clear message is rather elusive.

Positive role models

Detective Bullitt is brave, resourceful, and willing to risk his career (and possibly his life) to do what he thinks is right. However, he's also emotionally withdrawn and disaffected, unable to truly connect with others.

Violence

A few bloody, gruesome corpses, a tiny bit of spurting blood, and some chasing and shooting of guns. In one scene, a car explodes, and we briefly see burning bodies inside. A man brandishes a needle during one chase scene, but never uses it. Otherwise, there are some hospital and autopsy scenes that don't show anything but nonetheless come across as very realistic.

Sex

Bullitt and his girlfriend Cathy are seen in bed together, plus some flirting and kissing. She walks around wearing one of his shirts (with naked legs). In one shot, Bullitt stands in front of a strip club, and some suggestive photos can be seen on the wall behind him.

Language

Very infrequent language, but Bullitt uses "bulls--t" and "hell" during the final sequence. Otherwise, minor words such as "screwed up" and "castrated" are heard.

Consumerism

Pan American Airlines are shown, but they are now out of business.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Bullitt dines in a bar/restaurant where there appears to be drinking going on, but he doesn't drink. When he wakes up, he takes something from a bottle on his nightstand, but it could be anything (vitamins?).

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this 1968 cop movie remains famous for its lengthy, white-knuckle chase scene through the streets of San Francisco. It's a no-nonsense, grown-up thriller with a focus on characters and details rather than action and suspense. Even though star Steve McQueen is still cool, and even though the car chase still works, some younger viewers may find the movie a bit dull. It does have some grisly shootings, with spurting blood and gory corpses. The main character and his girlfriend share some intimate scenes with no nudity, and there are a couple of choice swear words saved for the film's final sequence.

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What's the story?

San Francisco police detective Bullitt (Steve McQueen) is assigned to protect a star witness in a court case designed to bring down a crime syndicate. After a strange turn of events, the witness is shot and brought to the hospital. When he dies on the operating table, Bullitt decides to hide the body and keep the death a secret until he can catch the murderer and find out what's really going on. This will not be an easy task, as the ambitious, sleazy politician, Chalmers (Robert Vaughn) -- who stands to gain if the trial is a success -- is breathing down Bullitt's neck at every turn. Jacqueline Bisset co-stars as Bullitt's girlfriend.

Is it any good?

QUALITY

Directed by English-born Oscar nominee Peter Yates, BULLITT takes a rather simple nugget of a story and turns it into a crime classic. It achieves this through the expert use of location footage, editing, music, mood, and timing, not to mention the laconic, stoic performance of ultra-cool star Steve McQueen. The movie seems to have stripped away most attempts at character development or artificial suspense, and focuses almost exclusively on details. Indeed, Bullitt's weekend on the job isn't always exciting or action packed.

Often credited with giving birth to the modern police movie, Bullitt is also the most famous today for its climatic car chase sequence, which feels fast and realistic, shot at ground level with hardly any musical enhancement. It's no surprise then that this movie won the Oscar for Best Editing.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the violence in the film. Why was the main character so nonchalant about looking at dead bodies?

  • The hero does some slightly shady things in order to solve his case and bring about justice. Is he a better person than the ambitious politician Chalmers? If so, why?

  • Is the famous chase scene still exciting? What makes it work? Is it realistic or cartoonish?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:October 17, 1968
DVD/Streaming release date:May 31, 2005
Cast:Jacqueline Bisset, Robert Vaughn, Steve McQueen
Director:Peter Yates
Studio:Warner Bros.
Genre:Action/Adventure
Topics:Cars and trucks
Run time:114 minutes
MPAA rating:PG

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