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Steve McQueen is definitely one of those larger-than-life film icons, a movie star that marked a specific cinematic period and will be remembered along with the greatest in the history of Hollywood. McQueen is perhaps at his best as the mistrusting, skeptical police lieutenant, generously helped by the above average performance from Robert Vaughn and always sexy Jacqueline Bisset. The character was partly shaped on the image and personality of Dave Toschi, one of the San Francisco detectives in charge of the Zodiac investigation.
The screenplay for this action gem of the sixties was written by Alan R. Trustman and Harry Kleiner based on Robert L. The legend has it that McQueen stubbornly insisted on doing his stunt scenes himself, burning rubber on his Mustang at mpH. This definitely added up to his cult status. This movie is completely made for McQueen—Frank Bullitt is McQueen—and had it been done differently, Bullitt might have easily turned out nothing but a loud blank.
Screenwriter must-read: Alan R. NOTE: For educational and research purposes only. Absolutely our highest recommendation. The film is old 8mm , and the quality poor, but viewable.
The following is an inside look at how they filmed Bullitt , the granddaddy of car pursuit movies. Where were you in ? You might have opened up the movie section of the newspaper and read a review about the newly released movie Bullitt.
With reviews like that, and sharing double billing with the hit Bonnie and Clyde , Bullitt devastated audiences with incredible scenes of leaping, screaming automobiles that seemed to fly off the screen. There may have been chase scenes before, but nothing before or since has equalled the intensity and impact of Bullitt. The scenes, which were novelty then but classic now, were brilliantly executed.
Over the years, fans have asked questions about the two cars used in the movie, a Dodge Charger and a Mustang GT. Of all the musclecars offered in the late sixties, why were these two cars chosen, and how were they modified to survive the torturous driving? We questioned some of the crew who participated in the filming, and asked them how the chase was coordinated and shot, who was involved in the chase scenes and what happened during the filming. We interviewed Carey Loftin, stunt coordinator for Bullitt and occasional driver of the Bullitt Mustang; Bud Elkins, the main stunt driver of the Mustang, aside from McQueen; and Loren Janes, who had doubled for McQueen for nearly 20 years and stunted for McQueen during the airport sequence at the end of the film.
We also interviewed Max Balchowsky, the man responsible for maintaining the Mustang GT and the Charger throughout the filming.
Finally, we spoke with Ron Riner, who acted as transportation coordinator for Warner Brothers on the Bullitt set. We set out to learn what the recipe is for such a successful chase sequence. What you saw is what really happened. It was real! You can undercrank the camera so you can control everything in the scene. In an interview with Motor Trend magazine, Steve McQueen related his desire to bring a high speed chase to the screen. Bullitt was also the first picture done with live sound some of which was added later as needed.
For example, additional sound was needed because on occasion a tire squeal was not picked up by the microphones. Bud Elkins remembers blowing the rear end of the Mustang at Willow Springs winding the gears for engine noise to be added to the soundtrack. To prepare himself, his crew and the cars for the movie sequence, McQueen and company went to the Cotati race course near San Francisco.
He was excellent. The Bullitt chase scenes were shot around Easter of When city officials were first approached about shooting in the streets of San Francisco, they balked at the proposed high speeds and the idea of filming part of the chase on the Golden Gate Bridge. Eventually, it was agreed to keep the chase within only a few city blocks. McQueen was the prime motivator behind the chase sequence, and then director Peter Yates and Carey Loftin worked out logistics behind the scenes.
The next morning they were spraying my hair down and cutting it. Consequently, it was Elkins who drove the car down hilly Chestnut Avenue. He brought in Bill Hickman to play a part and drive the other car. And they described Bill Hickman, who was working on the Love Bug at the same time. They really described Bill Hickman. But the story, according to Ron Riner was not the key element to the success of the movie. As filming of the chase progressed, Loftin wanted to see the daily work rushes.
He was told that Mr. Loftin insisted, and threatened to quit unless he could view the daily work. I had suggested using a Mustang, and a Dodge Charger, or else there would be too may Fords in the picture. He also said the Dodge Chargers had to be purchased without promotional consideration, but after the success of the movie and the increase in Charger sales, Chrysler was more than willing to be generous with their vehicles to Warner Brothers for future projects.
Before the filming could be done, the Charger and the Mustang required preparation. One of the best wrenchmen in the movie business, Max Balchowsky, recalls the Mustang in particular needed considerable modifications so it could hold up during the relentless beatings it would take during the filming. So I was a little hesitant. I had no idea what they wanted to do until I got there. All suspension parts were magnafluxed and replaced where nescessary.
The engine also came in for some modifications, including milling the heads, adding an aftermarket high performance ignition system and reworking the the carburetor and adding headers. On the Mustang, Mr.
It ran good, needed just a few little adjustments. I changed the distributor and all, but basically never had the engine apart on the Ford. Steve liked the sound of the car and he wanted mags. We hopped it up because Steve wanted the car hopped up. He was still a kid.
When the police specify a package, they have more spring here, a little bigger brake there, a little bit more happening in the shocks, and it makes a good car. We had to weld reinforcements under the arms and stuff on the Dodge. We did lose a lot of hubcaps on the Charger. Later, we took both cars out and went playing around with them over by Griffith Park near Los Angeles.
We trimmed the tires down on the Charger , we practically made them down to bicycle tires to try and handicap Hickman, and Bill just run them. A production manager would have cut your throat if you wanted to do something like that.
An accident would have ruined the cars, and we were slated for Monday morning, a. Hickman and Steve were buzzing around the tracks, and it was pretty even. McQueen and Hickman were both tickled with the cars. So, fortunately everything worked out.
For the in-car scenes, two camers were mounted in the cars and painted black. The jarring landings after the cars were airborne are the result of the cameras being tightly secured and not cushion mounted.
The effect was more than McQueen had bargained for. Even on the , they the audience jumped out of their seats. Bud Elkins did that. That was about mph. My car was disintegrating. Like, the door handles came off, both the shocks in the front broke, the steering armature on the right front side broke and my slack was about a foot and a half. The Mustang was really just starting to fall apart. There was an incident which alerted the crew to take extra precautions while doing the car chase.
The problem never came up again, or I never saw a problem. They were real good. Because some of the stunts were so well orchestrated, they did not look like stunts at all. I let him go ahead and tell it. There were three cars racing wildly through the streets of San Francisco, making car chase history, although only two are seen in the movie.
The third vehicle, a camera car, was driven by Pat Houstis, while cinematographer Bill Fraker manned the camera. Houstis and an amusing recollection. He did a real good job on it. It was a Corvette chassis, and he had stripped all the stuff off and built a good suspension, good engine and everything.
But it looked like hell. His confidence in Mr. Houstis is evident as he relates another incident. We wanted some shots of the Mustang really burning the corners. We did it several times. You know what that man would do if I was driving the car in front of him and anything would happen?
Now get into that car and get your foot into it! One particular scene that impressed Max Balchowsky was the gunman in the Dodge firing a shotgun blast at the pursuing Mustang that shatters the right front of the windshield. I thought it was terrific when the guy whips the shotgun out and the way the special effects fellow devised how those pebbles cracked the windshield and it made it so realistic like he really shot the windshield.
A legend in the rear view: Bullitt screenwriter Alan Trustman
In , Alan Trustman spent the summer in San Francisco and discovered how to get airborne in his little Ford car. Youthful enthusiasm quickly took over and soon Trustman and his friends were having contests to see who could get the most air as they drove the hills of San Francisco. It was an experience that would eventually inspire one of the most iconic sequences in cinema history. A lifelong film lover and hobbyist writer, he began noodling with a story about a bank robbery. The book he chose was Mute Witness , Robert L. Trustman moved the story to Philadelphia, added a female lead, and rechristened the main character Frank Bullitt.
Bullitt (1968): Shooting script
The advice and rantings of a Hollywood script reader tired of seeing screenwriters make the same mistakes, saving the world from bad writing one screenplay at a time. Learn what it takes to get your script past one of these mythical Gatekeepers. Makes me also wonder if someone stole is scripts and trying to make a fast buck? Doubtful, but would be intriguing. Someone should write a script based on it. I'm not so sure his hustle is all that crazy. As you said, he got you to write about him.
Bullitt: The Essence of Cool
Screenplay by. Alan Trustman and Harry Kleiner. Pish aka Robert L. Shooting Script, It was directed by Peter Yates and distributed by Warner Bros. Fish aka Robert L. Lalo Schifrin wr ote the original music score, a memorable mix of jazz, brass and percussion.