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Highly influential 1968 cop movie set in San Francisco. Steve McQueen stars as the eponymous Lt. Frank Bullitt, a TV dinner-eating, workaday Cowboy Cop (in fact, the Ur Example of this trope) who goes after the Mafia hit men who killed a witness he was protecting.
Best known for a legendary, nearly-ten-minute Chase Scene in which McQueen, largely eschewing stunt men, famously drove a certain green Mustang all over San Francisco in pursuit of two bad guys in a black Dodge Charger. Also one of the first chase scenes filmed with cars at full speed instead of using sped-up film as a cheat.
Bullitt provides examples of the following tropes:
- Adaptational Attractiveness: The book Mute Witness describes Frank Bullitt as a cop who "eats a lot of ice cream and never solves a case". The rights were originally secured for a movie to star Spencer Tracy, who more closely resembled the book's version of the character.
- Artistic License Geography: The path of the chase scene jumps all over San Francisco, primarily around Russian Hill, Potrero Hill, and San Bruno Mountain.
- Asian Drivers: Inverted behind the scenes. As revealed in a book by Robert Relyea, one of the producers, a Chinese man the authorities and film crew forgot to inform was terrified when he slowly and carefully exited his driveway only to be nearly slammed into by the cars in filming of the chase scene.
- Chase Scene: Boy howdy.
- Cool Car: Bullitt's Highland Green 1968 Ford Mustang 390 CID Fastback (ask a gearhead if they can recite that if you need proof) has become so iconic that Ford has released two Mustang Bullitt editions over the years. Also, the black Dodge Charger driven by the hitmen.
- Said black Charger was not only so much faster than the Mustang that the crew had to remove one of its spark plugs and install thin tires to slow it down, but it survived the repeated jumping and abuse of the chase scene filming with ease, while the Mustang needed constant repairs. Cool car indeed.
- Bullitt's girlfriend has a snazzy yellow Porsche.
- Cowboy Cop: Thought to be the Trope Maker, also a fine example of an Unbuilt Trope as things don't turn out quite how we'd expect.
- Da Chief: Captain Bennett. Unlike most examples of the character type, he's a Reasonable Authority Figure who gives Bullitt freedom to run the investigation in his own way, and takes the cop's side against Senator Chalmers.
- Faking the Dead / Dead Person Impersonation: As it turns out, the real Johnny Ross was playing just about everyone in order to escape scot-free by faking his own death.
- Film Noir: One of the better Post-Classic ones out there.
- The Hunter Becomes the Hunted: The car chase begins with Bullitt deliberately drawing out his would-be killers, then quickly losing them and ending up behind them.
- IKEA Weaponry: The assassins' Winchester shotgun.
- Incredibly Obvious Tail: The chase scene starts with this.
- The Informant: Eddy, who Bullitt meets with at a cafe.
- Out, Damned Spot!: The ending. Bullitt stands in his bathroom washing his hands and pondering just how badly he's screwed things up.
- Or just how much his girlfriend Cathy is right about how callous he is about the violence he faces on the job.
- Reason You Suck Speech: Cathy gives Bullitt a mild one when she inadvertently sees his cool and business-like attitude towards the scene of a brutal murder. Tellingly, he doesn't disagree with her assessment.
- The Mafia: The bad guys in the film. Referred to by Chalmers as "The Organization".
- Precision F-Strike: Made even more effective because this was the first major film to use this word:
Senator Chalmers: Frank, we must all compromise.
- Pyrrhic Victory: Bullitt finds everyone responsible for the death of the witness, and clears the department of the charge that their negligence led to his death. However, all the criminals responsible end up dead--and with them, any chance of bringing the rest of the Mafia to justice.
- San Francisco
- Sleazy Politician: Chalmers
- Slo-Mo Big Air: during the chase scene.
- The Stool Pigeon: Johnny Ross, a mobster who embezzled money from the mob, then cut a deal with Senator Chalmers to testify against the mob in exchange for immunity and witness protection.
- Weapon Stomp
- The Windy City: The opening credits scene takes place in Chicago.
- Witness Protection: The movie starts with Bullitt on this detail.