on 21 January 2010
There have been some pretty tough reviews concerning the picture quality of this blu ray. (I assume everyone knows the movie itself is great). I have to suggest that a direct comparison between the dvd and the blu ray shows what a massive improvement has been made. It's never going to "pop" off the screen the way some modern films do...... but the original footage was never capable of doing that. This blu ray is as good as Bullitt will ever look and it is a very big improvement over the dvd.
on 28 February 2010
Okay, lets talk about the difference between grain....and sharpness. The Blu ray transfer of this film is pin sharp,thats because the focus puller and camera man on the original film crew did a very good job and got everything in perfect focus!! The Blu Ray transfer does exemplify the characteristics of the film stock used in 1968....remember this is a film shot entirely on location in an almost semi/documentary style using film stock suited to low light levels and with a minimum use of suplementary lighting, by nature the film stock can be slightly grainy in places but that is no accident and can be considered a creative choice by the director to convey the gritty on the spot realism required. Actually in many ways this film set a trend, not just because of the car chase but the visual style and realistic/ urgent nature of the camera work spawned a slew of gritty action thrillers, (see French Connection/Blu Ray). There is no point in trying to compare the visual quality of a Blu Ray film like "Bullit" to a Blu Ray Bond film, for one thing the visual styles are so disparate as to be incomparable, Bond films present a saturated hyper reality, a high gloss to go with the high fantasy, "Bullitt" is a gritty cop thriller, it doesn't need cleaned up or made glossy like a modern film, watch it as it was intended to be, this Blu ray is good, its sharp, its clear, its grainy in places, its how it should be. I have the DVD and the Blu Ray is far superior...enjoy.
on 14 October 2009
40 odd years later and still one of the coolest movies ever made. I suppose what makes it so damn cool (besides the presence of Steve McQueen) is the minimal dialogue but each word is meaningful to the plot and character development. So much is also conveyed in looks and expression. A marvelously constructed and tense movie with real characters. And of course THE car chase that started them all. And no CGI or special effects in sight. Just real cars with real drivers on real roads and no ludicrous near misses such as with have these days where you need to suspend all disbelief. People actually die rather than walk away from massive explosions etc only requiring a band aid and a glib one liner. Well acted and tightly directed this movie has held up really well over time. Buy it you will not be disappointed.
This film demonstrates to contemporary Hollywood just how to make a superb thriller without having an explosion every 5 minutes. You know its a classic from the opening shot. Lalo Schifrin's insistent theme kicks in over the credits and the rollercoaster ride starts.
McQueen is marvellous as a Frank Bullitt a no-nonsense, and somewhat rebellious detective who is having no truck with authority. Robert Vaughn, who I've always liked, but never really rated as an actor, is excellent here as Walter Charmers (who is anything but charming!). The scenes between him and McQueen are riveting. Theres the famous car chase of course, which is great, but watching it again recently, the thing that struck me was the completely realistic Hospital scenes. Its all very clinical if you'll excuse the pun.
On disc 1:
There is a commentary by the directory Peter Hyams and a trailer.
On Disc 2:
Documentary 1 'The Cutting Edge: The Magic Of Movie Editing' narrated by Kathy Bates
Documentary 2 'Steve McQueen: The Essence Of Cool' a film about McQueen.
3 'Bullitt: Steve McQueen's Commitment To Reality'.
Of the extras the commentary is probably the best bit, but the film itself is reason alone to buy these discs.
on 19 March 2001
We all see films that stick in your mind for various reasons, the photography, acting, storyline, atmosphere, direction....Bullit has it all, I remember seeing when it was released in the late sixties and have never tired of it...it still evokes the atmosphere of the time and represented a new landmark in crime movies...the director was not afraid enhance the action of film with relaxed breathing spaces...the scene in the restaurant ( shot at a real restaurant from outside looking in) the jazz music the wondeful serene morning when Bullit parks his car and goes and buys his weeks precooked meals at the chinese grocers opposite his girlfriends apartment If only my shopping trips were so simple!!!! Mqueen superb in this roll as a laid back supercop apparently turned down the part as Dirty Harry...would that have suited him? There is, as in any good film, an excellent supporting cast especially Robert Vaughan who oozes just the right amount of sleaze, Don Gordon his sidekick and Norman Fell his boss. With the magnificent backdrop of San Francisco a stunning car-chase and the airport shoot out (copied in Heat) this film is almost perfect.
on 17 July 2002
Although at the time, he was still reeling from the after-effects of doing "The Thomas Crown Affair", here star Steve McQueen gave what was possibly the best performance of his life and career, and one that has matured all the more with the passing of time.
"Bullitt", released in 1968, is a very neat, clipped and stylish thriller which, although the basic plot ia little weak, does not detract from this. Known for "that car chase", where McQueen carves up San Francisco in pursuit of a hot rodding black Pontiac
, the actual story focuses on a police operation to guard a mafioso before he gives evidence against his friends in the mob, which goes wrong. McQueen as Detecive Frank Bullitt is as always, clipped and razor-sharp, letting his senses tell half of the story for him. He's excellent, his casting is perfect. Also on board is Robert Vaughn, himself in excellent form as a scheming politician, and Jackie Bissett as Frank's love interest.
No its not the best thriller ever made, but frame for frame it is good.
Now you too have the chance to own this classic on DVD, restored in widescreen and with renewed picture clarity and a a good selection of extras to make this one wicked addition to your collection. If you never buy another McQueen film, buy this one, you will not be disappointed!
on 18 June 2011
I agree with the 2 reviewers who gave favorable comments on the quality of this Blu-Ray transfer.
It is not appropriate to have pristine super sharp picture and saturated color quality for all Blu-Ray
For this particular film, the quality of the transfer was very good and appropriate for this gritty and superior
police film from the late 60's with one of the best performances by Steve MacQueen.
At the end of the famous car chase sequence I felt dizzy as if I was driving the car.
It ranks one of the 3 top crime films from that era.
The other 2 are 'Dirty Harry' and 'The French Connection'.
NB: As is their wont, Amazon have lumped together the various reviews from different editions and formats together. The first half of this review refers to the special edition 2-disc VD and Blu-ray of bullitt, the second half to the DVD triple-bill of Bullitt, The Towering Inferno and The Getaway.
This review is from: Bullitt (2 Disc Special Edition) [DVD] (DVD)
A beautifully constructed star vehicle for Steve McQueen at his best, Bullitt is pretty much the prototype for every Hollywood cop movie that followed. True, the car chase may seem a bit less impressive than it once did because filmmakers have been trying to top it for the best part of four decades. More of a cat-and-mouse game than a demolition derby - the whole point is to avoid hitting the other cars - it's overshadowed by the film's other action setpieces: a murder in a safe house, a tense chase in a hospital and a great airport finale that Michael Mann ripped off wholesale in Heat. Yet despite the familiarity of the elements, the film still feels remarkably fresh today, with much of its impact undiluted.
If it still seems so much better today than most of its successors, that's down to old-fashioned star quality. McQueen doesn't have to act cool: McQueen IS cool, even in his pajamas. But in some ways the film is a critique of the whole cool antihero ethos - sometimes being cool means being cold and unfeeling. Bullitt is an impassive, impersonal figure throughout the film, his feelings so buried that he is unable to relate properly with his girlfriend or be anything other than calmly professional with a shot colleague. He is not a bad man, more one who has buried his feelings so deep to enable himself to get through his job that he cannot exhume them when he clocks off.
It helps that director Peter Yates resisted studio pressure to film on the backlot with regular crowd casting, opting instead to shoot on the streets filled with real people, keeping the film fairly grounded. He may have been hired on the strength of the Stanley Baker thriller Robbery, loosely based around the Great Train Robbery and opening with a cracking car chase around the streets of London, but he had the sense to realise that the only way to successfully update what's at heart a 60s spin on the classic Warner Bros.' crime films of the Thirties was to give it a low-key approach that makes the highpoints seems a lot more effective than they should. The film also benefits from good casting (Robert Vaughn, Jacqueline Bisset, Don Gordon, Simon Oakland, Robert Duvall) and better characterisation than the norm, while the plot's not bad either, with Lalo Schifrin contributing a cool score that does not so much follow the action as create an environment for it and Pablo Ferra throwing in a terrific main title sequence that sets the plot in motion.
The 2-disc set certainly boasts an improved transfer over the original single-disc release, but aside from Yates audio commentary, a vintage making of featurette and the trailer, the extras aren't that film specific - a good feature-length documentary on film editing and another on McQueen.
Three of the best from McQueen - but no-frills editions
This set includes three of Steve McQueen's best audience pictures - but be warned that this release is pretty much barebones compared to the special editions of all three titles that have subsequently been released.
The Towering Inferno is still the daddy of all the 70s disaster movies, even if time has taken the edge off some of the special effects and rendered the fashions and décor more frightening than the pyrotechnics. It's also the blueprint for Die Hard, which borrows many of its key setpieces almost verbatim - the trapped party guests, the hero crawling around at the top of a seemingly endless lift shaft, the chopper exploding on the roof, the explosion that unleashes a deluge on the building - while scaling down the all-star cast and adding gunplay to the mix. As a rule in the genre, movie stars survive, TV stars die, but it's not ironclad here, although the probability of death does seem directly correlated to the amount of screen time a character gets.
It's a lavishly mounted affair and, unlike the Glass Tower itself, beautifully constructed. Stirling Silliphant's script sets up the characters (although some, like Robert Vaughn, end up sidelined completely for most of the film) and the premise so efficiently that you barely notice it's 36 minutes before anyone even notices the fire, while the survival (or otherwise) set pieces are well-staged and show some imagination - particularly the scenic elevator scene. If with recent history it may seem a tad tasteless to say it, the film is Hollywood enough to enjoy as an old-fashioned survival story/disaster movie and at least doesn't dodge the bullet of the main characters' complicity in the corner-cutting that results in the disaster - even Newman's supposedly idealistic architect takes the blame for his inaction in preventing it.
Unlike Fox's 2-disc NTSC edition, this release only includes the original trailer as an extra.
The car chase in Bullitt may seem a bit less impressive than it once did because filmmakers have been trying to top it for the best part of four decades. More of a cat-and-mouse game than a demolition derby, its overshadowed by the film's other action setpieces - a murder in a safe house, a tense chase in a hospital and a great airport finale that Michael Mann ripped off wholesale in Heat. A beautifully constructed star vehicle for Steve McQueen at his best, it's pretty much the prototype for every Hollywood cop movie that followed, but benefits from good casting (Robert Vaughn, Jacqueline Bisset, Don Gordon, Simon Oakland, Robert Duvall), better characterisation than the norm and a low key approach from director Peter Yates that makes the highs seem a lot more effective than they should. The plot's not bad either, with Lalo Schifrin contributing a cool score and Pablo Ferra a terrific main title sequence.
Unlike the 2-disc set, this release only includes the trailer and a 1968 featurette about the making of the film.
One of the many things that gives 1972's The Getaway the edge over its now almost-forgotten remake is that, unlike Alec Baldwin, Steve McQueen doesn't act like a movie star - he is a movie star. From the days when cool was what you were, not what you wore or owned, the plot itself is nothing special: Steve McQueen's bank robber is sprung from jail to pull a job with wife Ali MacGraw and has to hightail it to Mexico with both the relentless double-crossing Al Lettieri and numerous Texas mobsters in hot pursuit. Like most chase thrillers, you've seen it before: it's what Peckinpah does with it that counts, and Peckinpah does plenty. Most of Peckinpah's usual trademarks can be found in the margins, from children's fascination with violence to the Hellfire and brimstone preacher whose radio sermon goes unheard, and the action scenes are superbly staged - especially the hotel shootout and the lovingly filmed shooting up of a police car - but just as importantly he keeps a clear focus on his characters. The film's emotional terrain is as harsh as the barren landscape the ensuing chase is set against, with the odds on McQueen and MacGraw's marriage making it just as touch-and-go as whether they will make it across the border in one piece, their road to possible marital redemption through ordeal mirrored with the fast-track to Hell that hostage couple Sally Struthers and Jack Dodson take chauffeuring Lettieri's perverse wounded animal on their trail.
It's probably Sam Peckinpah's last truly successful film before self-indulgence, laziness and too much booze and drugs took their toll on his work. True, it's a purely commercial piece that has none of the personal passion that drove The Wild Bunch or The Ballad of Cable Hogue, but it's put together with a level of genuine artistry that's way above the norm for the genre: the editing of the first twenty minutes alone, with its freeze-frames and non-linear structure, is remarkably adventurous and successful. Both perfectly representing the state of mind and frustration and disorientation of McQueen's character in a way that is both complex and yet entirely accessible and transforming what could have been bog-standard exposition into something much more memorable, it's strikingly effective. Far more entertaining than it has any right to be.
(On an incidental note, although Walter Hill claimed that little of his screenplay made it to the screen (the bleak ending of Jim Thompson's novel is replaced by a much sweeter and more optimistic one), it's interesting to note how much of the film he would rework in his own The Driver, from the destruction of a car in a key setpiece to the train sequence with a very (un)lucky bagman.)
No extras at all on this title.
I liked this 1968 for some of the same reasons that I liked the relatively contemporaneous "The French Connection": the chases by foot and by car are carried out all the more credibly for not being dependent on over-obvious special effects or flashy camerawork, and the procedural aspects of the story are attended to with great deliberation. The scene in which Bullitt and his fellow-cop Delgetti go through the suitcase of Renick, and the scene where Bullitt watches the hospital team work to save the life of a man who has been shot -- not to mention the airport concourse scene -- are dwelt on in a way that sends a message about the realities of police work. The plodding element in it is respected. Also, this movie uses its San Francisco setting as effectively as "French Connection" uses New York, and we see that most effectively in the car scenes, where there is a degree of visual comedy that isn't altogether eradicated by the seriousness for the investigation of what's at stake. And Steve McQueen does an excellent job as a detective who is certainly hard charging but also thoughtful about the details of the investigation. The camera on several occasions captures him looking at a scene and obviously thinking of how best to go about getting evidence from it. I also liked too that not not every loose end was tied up -- for example, it seems to me that Chalmers (Robert Vaughn), the senator who has a stake in the testimony of the witness Bullitt is guarding, remains mysterious. Can we be sure he wants the witness to testify? Or must he only be seen to seem to want that? And what do his connections to some -- but not all -- of Bullitt's superiors amount to? And what did Renick know or not know about his situation, and who set it up? And do we know exactly why the guarded witness surreptitiously unbolts the door?
My only reservation comes with the relation between Bullitt and his girlfriend (Jacqueline Bissett). The scene in which she complains about how Bullitt's job is making him into a person she can't connect with seems under-motivated, and Bissett is certainly used less effectively than she could be here. But that's a relatively small matter -- just about everything else worked as far as I was concerned.
The late sixties saw a new type of film come out, films that were ultra cool and in tune with the times. Films like Point Blank, Dirty Harry, Klute, and the best of them all, Bullitt.
Steve McQueen plays Frank Bullitt, a Lieutenant in the San Francisco police. Wily politician Robert Vaughn asks him to guard an important mafia grass, but things go wrong, the grass dies and Bullitt starts to track down the killers in a case that twists and turns as he gets nearer the truth.
The film works for so many reasons. First and foremost is McQueen in the starring role. He was just so damned cool. He even manages to wear a cardigan in the film and makes it look good, a feat my girlfriend assures me I should never attempt. With the standard issue raincoat and attitude he inhabits the role of Frank Bullitt, making him a really believable and likeable guy. And he does it all in such an understated way. Robert Vaughn is also in fine form, switching from charming to imperious to slimy in the space of a breath, yet maintaining the character's believability. It's a masterclass in acting.
The director placed a huge emphasis on realism, using as many real locations as possible, such as the hospital and morgue. And wherever possible real people (nurses, morgue attendants, doctors, doormen etc) were used to give as much an air of authenticity as possible. And it works, the result is a film that feels so much different to any other.
Another thing that makes the film is the action. Whether the now famous car chase, the chase through the hospital or the airport showdown, the action is well staged and tense.
The final point that I really love about the film is the score from Lalo Schiffrin. A bit of an aficionado of film scores, I consider this to be one of the very best, totally suiting the mood of the film with its jazzy coolness, yet underscoring the danger and tenderness where necessary. And, of course, the director made a wise choice in leaving the car chase unscored and letting the V8 engines do the talking. From the opening bars of the score you get a little shiver down the spine that says you are in for something special.
5 stars, one of my favourite movies.