In 1968, Warner Brothers released Bullitt, the progenitor of every cop movie that followed it, and it starred Steve McQueen – the coolest dude who ever lived – as a San Francisco cop in the middle of a criminal and political shit storm involving mafia drug kingpins and ambitious candidates for office. In many ways, particularly in its dry depictions of meticulous police procedure, its authentic scenes in hospital emergency wards, and its matter-of-fact dissection of the politics that infect every bureaucracy, it remains unsurpassed.
All anyone remembers, though, is the 120 MPH car chase as McQueen, doing his own driving for much of it, pursues a honking great Dodge Charger in his fastback Mustang, all over the hills of San Francisco. Much of it was filmed at normal speed, with no video tricks to make it look like the cars are going faster than they really are, and you can tell by the way these muscle cars bounce on their shocks, leave the ground as they go over humps, and shed hubcaps as they heel over in tight turns. The jaded modern viewer may say he’s seen it all before, but nobody in 1968 had ever seen such stuff, and I don’t know, there’s something about it.