A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What 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?
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.
Talk to your kids 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?
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