Thursday, April 11, 2024

“Bullitt” (1968) Heats Up the Big Screen – Mar. 27

Guys, this one’s for you! And for any gals out there who just can’t resist a heart-racing car chase with a sexy guy at the wheel, it’s for you too.

Brought to you by Coronado Island Film Festival (CIFF) as part of its monthly Classic Film Series, “Bullitt,” the 1968 neo-noir action thriller shot in San Francisco and directed by Peter Yates, is coming to Village Theatre, 820 Orange Ave, on Wed, March 27. Tickets are $15 and are available now at (preferred) and, if still available, on the night of the screening at the CIFF table in front of the theatre. Doors open at 5 pm for complimentary wine, followed by a vintage cartoon and the feature presentation at 5:30. Organizers recommend early arrival for optimal seating availability.

Steve McQueen as SFPD Detective Frank Bullitt. (CIFF)

The “sexy guy at the wheel,” of course, is Steve McQueen, and the film also stars Robert Vaughan, Jacqueline Bissett, Don Gordon, Robert Duvall, Simon Oakland, and Norman Fell.

McQueen plays SFPD Detective Frank Bullitt, who is charged by his politically ambitious (and oily) superior Walter Chalmers (Vaughan) to guard a key witness, Chicago mobster Johnny Ross, in a sleazy hotel room over the weekend, until he can testify as a witness in a Senate Subcommittee on Organized Crime on Monday morning. It all goes terribly wrong, and Bullitt finds himself behind the wheel of his 1968 V8 Ford Mustang Fastback being chased through the hills of San Francisco by two hitmen in a black Dodge Charger.

What follows is now considered one of the most exciting car chases to ever hit the screen, and became a model to be imitated in films to this day. McQueen, a world-class race car driver at the time, drove in the closeup scenes, while stunt coordinator Carey Loftin, stuntman Bud Elkins, and McQueen’s usual stunt driver, Loren Janes, drove for the high-speed parts. The Dodge Charger was driven by veteran stunt driver Bill Hickman, who played one of the hitmen and helped with the chase scene choreography. The filming of the chase scenes took three weeks, resulting in a thrilling ten minutes and 53 seconds of screen time. The director called for maximum speeds of 75-80 mph, but the cars at times reached over 110 mph.

Billy Fraker, the cinematographer for the film, credits the success (and the 1968 Oscar for Film Editing) to “Bullitt” editor Frank P. Keller, as it’s has been included in the list of “Best Editing Sequences of All Time.” At the time, Keller was credited with cutting the film so brilliantly that the city of San Francisco itself became a character in the movie.


Next month, get ready for a big change of pace with the hilariously madcap “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy.” Ticket are available now.

Save the date for CIFF 2024 — November 6 -10.

Managing Editor
Managing Editor
Originally from upstate New York, Dani Schwartz has lived in Coronado since 1996. She is happy to call Coronado home and to have raised her children here. In her free time she enjoys reading, exercising, trying new restaurants, and just walking her dog around the "island." Have news to share? Send tips or story ideas to: [email protected]

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