DVD Action-Adventure
Written by Abbie Bernstein   
Wednesday, 19 November 1997


Warner Bros. Home Video
starring: Steve McQueen, Robert Vaughn, Jacqueline Bisset, Don Gordon, Robert Duvall, Simon Oakland, Norman Fell
release year: 1968
film rating: Two and a half stars
sound/picture: Three stars
reviewed by: Abbie Bernstein

If you want to know why 'Bullitt' is still considered a classic three decades after its theatrical release, forward right up to the car chase in Chapter 14. The sequence is a mini-movie in itself, with a moody build-up that accelerates into a grueling, fierce and very convincing duel on real streets. Watching this sequence reminds you that, once upon a time, film action tried to make you imagine what it would be like if you were part of it. This is not to denigrate the strides made in action or effects, but in your heart of hearts, you know you're never going to pilot the Millennium Falcon. Yet, the automotive combat between San Francisco police detective Frank Bullitt (Steve McQueen) and his adversaries is something you will contemplate next time you step on the gas in your own car.

Frank Bullitt is a low-key, incorruptible type who runs into problems when he's asked to baby-sit a mob informant. Almost under Bullitt's nose, the informant is killed leaving his partner badly wounded and his mission clear. He's got to find the culprits before he loses his job and maybe his life.

If the above sounds like an episode of a TV cop show, that's because it's pretty much how it plays. It's all too easy to guess who the real bad guys are and McQueen's performance will strike some as the epitome of macho cool while others little more than uninflected blandness. Still, in fairness to the movie and the era it's from, when director Peter Yates and screenwriters Alan R. Trustman and Harry Kleiner adapted Robert L. Pike's novel 'Mute Witness' for the movies, they were pioneering a style. In fact, Frank P. Keller even won the 1968 Oscar for editing 'Bullitt.' Listen to the way dialogue overlaps, then gives way to single sounds to create suspense in the emergency room sequence in Chapter 6--at the time, this was novel, edgy stuff.

However, films and TV have since built on the innovations of 'Bullitt,' incorporating its stylistic flourishes into stories with a lot more dimension and substance. The car chase is an evergreen classic, the plot is an unapologetic antique and whether or not you have a good time here depends finally on whether or not you're nostalgic for the no-frills type of detective thriller they don't often make anymore.

more details
sound format:
Dolby Surround Stereo
aspect ratio(s):
Standard and Widescreen
special features: Interactive Menus, Production Notes, Scene Access, Theatrical Trailer, Languages & Subtitles in English, French and Spanish
comments: email us here...
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reference system
DVD player: Kenwood DV-403
receiver: Kenwood VR-407
main speakers: Paradigm Atom
center speaker: Paradigm CC-170
rear speakers: Paradigm ADP-70
subwoofer: Paradigm PDR-10
monitor: 27-inch Toshiba

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