mcqueen meme | bullitt

i've been noticing there is some sort of steve mcqueen internet meme out there rt now. vintage photos of him are popping up randomly all over the place. perhaps for good reason, it has reminded me of what an unparalleled BADASS he was. back in the day i was made to watch papillon. i did not care for prison movies. but even at the tender age of 17 i recall thinking SMCQ was quite dreamy. and then i saw the original thomas crowne affair which was basically off the charts- SMCQ, faye dunaway and most of all- exquisite split screen action.*

so i decided it's time to revisit bullitt. the name of the movie alone sets the stage for the badassery that unfolds. right from the graphic opening credit sequence, schifrin jazz score, the famously epic san francisco car chase, all the way to the rather unexpectedly existential ending, this film is essentially perfect. it's a methodical cat and mouse game with great bursts of energy. but overall very deliberate. not a shoot em up chills kind of action adventure.

 

one thing i keep thinking about though, is the ending. the last shot where bullitt closes the door on his sleeping girlfriend and reflects upon his own image in the mirror instantly reminded me of the last scene in the godfather ii. bullitt's girlfriend [jacqueline bissett] occupies the same space as kay corleone [diane keaton]. they both exist outside this impenetrable world of violence and masculinity. inversely, both michael corleone and bullitt are transformed by this violence against their own intentions. both films convey the weight of this inevitability.

 

*as an aside split screen action is something i am always keen to see more of. it's sadly gone out of style but i wish it would make a comeback. it can be so exhilarating.

stills from peter yate's 1968, bullitt