Luke Thorne’s review published on Letterboxd:
Steve McQueen, in his most iconic role, plays San Francisco cop Bullitt, on the trail of political corruption in Peter Yates’ Oscar-winning thriller which features one of the most memorable car chases in cinema history.
Adapted from the novel Mute Witness by Robert L. Fish, which was published five years earlier, the story concerns politician Walter Chalmers (Robert Vaughn), who is attempting to catch horde manager Pete Ross (Vic Tayback) with the support of evidence from the offender's firebrand brother Johnny (Pat Renella), who is in the protection in San Francisco under the eye of police deputy Frank Bullitt (Steve McQueen). When a pair of mob criminals arrive, Bullitt keeps track of their path through a labyrinth of difficulties and betrayals.
Steve McQueen gives a very good performance, in one of his most memorable roles, as the title character Frank Bullitt, the police officer who acts like he is determined to catch the criminals and he won’t give up until he succeeds, even if that does include him being involved in the memorable car chase scene.
McQueen suits his role very well and along with his decent performance in the original version of The Thomas Crown Affair, he would have another cinematic year to remember.
Elsewhere, Robert Vaughn and Pat Renella both give decent performances in their respective roles as Walter and Johnny, the representative and Pete’s brother who are strong-minded to catch Pete, while Vic Tayback is fine as Pete, the criminal really hoping not to get caught.
Keep an eye out for Don Gordon, Simon Oakland and Jacqueline Bisset who appear as Delgetti, Sam Bennett and Cathy. Delgetti is part of Bullitt’s team; Sam is the captain; Cathy is Bullitt’s girlfriend.
The direction from Yates is very good because he allows the facial expressions to be seen to a strong effect throughout, while also keeping a tense atmosphere happening as well and the script is written to a decent standard by Alan R. Trustman and Harry Kleiner as they make the movie easy to follow.
The camera, sound and editing stand out best in terms of the technical aspects, because the camera makes very good use of the locations and also captures the tense and dramatic moments well, which deservedly get the edge-of-the-seat status; the sound is excellent as you have to listen carefully; the film is edited to a terrific effect.
The movie managed to deservedly win the Academy Award for Best Film Editing (Frank P. Keller), while it also got nominated for Best Sound. At the British Academy Film Awards, the film got nominated for 5 prizes: Best Director (Peter Yates), Best Supporting Actor (Robert Vaughn), Best Cinematography (William A. Fraker), Best Film Editing (Frank P. Keller) and Best Sound (Ed Scheid).
Overall, Bullitt is a very enjoyable thriller, due to the very good performances in particular from Steve McQueen and Robert Vaughn, along with the direction, script, tension, technical aspects and that car chase.