In San Francisco, “Bullitt” is a cult classic. Why? Well, the 1968 cop film is not known for its plot, acting, or memorable lines—not even so much as a “Do you feel lucky, punk?” or “A man’s got to know his own limitations,” or, to go back a ways and up several levels in class, “The stuff that dreams are made of.”
“Bullitt” featured one of the most attractive stars of the day, Steve McQueen, to keep you watching. But the reason people remember it is the car scene. No one, before or since, has ever driven the streets of San Francisco the way McQueen and an ill-fated bad guy did in the extended chase—it goes on and on and on—that features cars vaulting down hills and and careering through many other (much-changed) San Francisco locations.
We mention it at all because of the news that Peter Yates, who directed the film, has passed away. (Yates should be better remembered, in our humble opinion, for the cycling/coming-of-age classic “Breaking Away.“)
Here’s Yates’s San Francisco masterpiece, if you’ve got 11 minutes: