Monday, September 19, 2005

Bullitt (1968)

Lt. Frank Bullitt (Steve McQueen) is driving a 1968 Mustang GT.

He gets into a little road rage incident with some shotgun-wielding bad guys in a Dodge Charger. The bad guys are incinerated.

They don't make chase scenes like this anymore. Too many safety regulations. Computer animation does all the heavy lifting now.

Truth be told... I liked Steve much better in "The Great Escape". It's an existential tale of existence and doom. It's life spelled out in totality. No tales , no stories. Just life and death and struggle to be free

But that so-alone man, playing catch with himself in a German POW camp, he epitomized the solitary essence of human existence. He was unable to do battle with the almighty. He struggled to be free. He tasted freedom. The world captured him and returned him.

It's a modern reading of the "Myth of Sisyphus". Rolling the rock up the hill for all eternity, only to have it roll back down again, and again...

Yet, in that time from when he reaches the top until his toil reaches the bottom again, Sisyphus is truly free.

Free at last. Thank God almighty, we're free at last.
Once again...

But didn't you also like the cold-hearted, unforgiving, half-breed character he played in "Nevada Smith," unrelentingly seeking revenge for the vicious murder of his parents?

There's a heart-warming philosophical struggle presented mid-film, when a priest in a serene desert mission saves Smith's life and doctors him back to health, but the padre cannot quite convince Smith to abandon his destructive path of retribution.

Suzanne Pleshette (one of the all-time hotties of the silver screen), Brian Keith, Martin Landau and Karl Malden round out a superb cast.
Tragically, Steve McQueen died in 1980 at age 50 from lung cancer.
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