By on September 6, 2009

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51 Comments on “Ask the Best and Brightest: Car Chase Scenes: Is McQueen Number One with a Bullitt?...”


  • avatar
    pista

    Bullitt’s good, Subway’s better.

  • avatar
    Ingvar

    I hold the car chase in the original Gone in Sixty Seconds as The Best. Car Chase. Evvvvaaa.

    Though, Steve McQueen is the King of Cool, nothing today can even compare.

  • avatar

    Bullitt’s awesome.

    Also liked ‘Ronin’ and the chase scene in ‘Bourne Identity’

  • avatar
    dejal

    Ronin is a close 2nd, but Bullitt wins because it stars McQueen. De Niro is a better actor IMO, but McQueen, like the above post is the “King of Cool”.

  • avatar
    Detroit-Iron

    Vanishing Point

    The Driver

    Gone in 60 Seconds (original, obviously)

    And the winner:

    Bullitt, hands down.

    Ronin was ok but I think I couldn’t get into it because there were French cars involved.

    Honorable mention: The Blues Brothers.

  • avatar
    AdamYYZ

    I want you all to consider The Terminator. (Don’t laugh)

    I want you to consider it because it has probably the lowest budget at 6.5 Million US dollars in the early 80’s. It produced two heart pounding chase scenes that I think are more than worthy of the top 10. They may be short but they are tense and action packed with gunshots, explosives and crashes. Watch all 3 videos below and decide.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=euXwOUdAyJs

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D-ayk1LEaxA Part 1
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTNoar0d40o Part 2

  • avatar
    Ingvar

    “The Driver” and “The Seven-Ups” are also high on my list. “French Connection” is in my eyes grossly overrated. One should not forget the chases from “Blues Brothers” either, With excellent dialogue like:

    Shit?

    What?

    Rollers…

    No?

    Yeah!

    Shit!

  • avatar
    mcs

    Don’t forget the chase scene from the original Italian Job. The movie also has some wonderful opening credits featuring a Miura.

  • avatar
    Dimwit

    Don’t forget The French Connection, The Seven Ups had a couple (watching those 70’s elephants trying to act like Ferrari’s is cringe inducing – even better: to ramp up the excitment they used Bullit’s audio track for the cars), even Short Time has a really wild chase.

  • avatar
    chuckR

    re:The Italian Job

    The destruction of that Miura is worse than the destruction of all the C4C cars. Much worse.

  • avatar
    Dimwit

    Ahhh, it looks like I have to hit the submit button faster. :(

    N.B. on The French Connection:: the chase is done in real time and at speed, the accident was real, not staged (old man’s driveway was part of the route and he entered the scene without going past any of the blockades) and they did it without permission from the city. Done very fast. Can’t be that way anymore.

  • avatar
    Commando

    Regardless of which one was the best, I’d have given anything to be riding shotgun next to Steve.

  • avatar
    olde_fortran

    The opening DB5 v. 355 ‘chase’ in Goldeneye has always had a special place in me’ heart:

    YouTube: bond-aston martin vs ferrari

  • avatar
    pgreenberg

    how ’bout “To Live and Die in L.A.”?

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    I will second The French Connection. It is the first one that comes to my mind when you say car chase scene.

  • avatar
    aggrazel

    The really great thing about that scene from Bullitt is that you have 10 minutes of chase with no dialogue, no music, just tires and engine. Very awesome. I doubt any modern movie would try that.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    The ‘Best Chase Scene’ debate should be considered on both realism and how this one particular scene fits within the framework of the movie. In this context, although the scene itself is a classic, Bullitt really isn’t the best. For one thing, there are few bystanders (there are a few scattered people walking down the sidewalk as the cars famously go down the big San Francisco hill). Then there’s the idea of what Bullitt would have done if he’d actually caught the guys in the Charger before they crashed.

    In that respect, other chase scenes are better. The French Connection, To Live and Die in LA, The Blues Brothers, The Italian Job and, yes, even The Terminator would all seem to be a notch better than Bullitt, if for no other reason than a chase scene, no matter how great, by itself just doesn’t make a good movie. The script of Bullitt is convoluted and, at times, the dialogue is laughable. The same can’t be said of the other movies that have chase scenes that are nearly as good.

    The best way to look at it is how good the movie would be without the famous chase scene. All the other movies are still eminently enjoyable. Bullitt? Not so much.

    In other words, if all you want to see is a classic chase scene, Bullitt is the movie to watch (the scenes of San Francisco in 1968, along with seeing two of the best looking cars to ever come out of Detroit during the musclecar heyday in action, are priceless), followed by the cult-classic Vanishing Point (which I’ve seen described as nothing more than a 90 minute Dodge commercial).

    OTOH, if you want to see a great movie that just happens to have a great chase scene in it, it would be best to pick up one of the others.

  • avatar
    Happy_Endings

    Take your pick from the three great ones in Ronin. Not so much of a chase scene, but BMW Film’s “Star” is nice as well.

  • avatar
    Jimal

    A few nominations for “Best Chase Scene EVER”

    1. The mall scene from “The Blues Brothers”
    2. The final chase scene from “The Blues Brothers”
    3. The opening scene from “A Man and a Woman: 20 Years Later” (technically more of a race than a chase, but it is AWESOME)

    Then your Bullitts and your Ronins and your Italian Jobs…

  • avatar
    sabast20

    How about the chase scene at the end of The Bourne Supremacy? I needed a Valium after that one.

  • avatar
    PaulieWalnut

    pgreenberg:

    I also have a soft spot for ‘To live and die in LA.’

    Of course the French are the kings of the car chase. Witness Taxi 2. A silly, fun movie with some great chases:

  • avatar

    “Le Mans” was a better McQueen “chase” movie. More diving and WAY less dialogue and dumb subplots than “Bullitt” ;)

    The “Ronin” driving scenes were better than “Bullitt” as well. Though the moment when the Mustang appears in the rearview mirror is truly classic.

    –chuck

  • avatar
    Dimwit

    I really wish all the Taxis had an R1 release instead of that Queen Latifah crapfest that was released. They look like a lot of fun.

  • avatar
    fincar1

    Well, it must be said that the Bullitt chase scene is the only one to have a car named for it.

  • avatar
    fincar1

    …and stepping into my “grammar nazi” persona…

    Please. Don’t. Do. This. Ever. Again.

  • avatar
    GrandCharles

    I’ll be the one to dare say it…death proof was a very entertaining bit…but when the wheel disconnect from the mustang in Bullit at the end of the chase, man that felt so good, like i know they did not expect that, felt real…

  • avatar
    Dan

    I’m surprised nobody’s mentioned it, but “The Hidden” has a brilliant extended car chase between a Ferrari and a Porsche. Admittedly, we’re otherwise talking about bad 80’s sci-fi, but still…

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    The bad guys chasing the scooter kid in “Diva” is my favorite for thrills. For laughs, the fat guy chasing Wee Man in the Jackass films can’t be topped.

  • avatar

    fincar1:

    Point taken. Headline amended.

  • avatar
    scrubjay

    Context is important – To Live and Die in LA has 2 treasury agents who have just robbed and accidentally killed an FBI undercover agent going the WRONG WAY down the LA freeway at RUSH HOUR while dozens of federal agents shoot at them with M16s. This is all in old American rear wheel drive 4 door sedans. They even have to bring the car back to the motor pool when done. Blues Brothers has excess and Bullitt has Steve McQueen and Bourne Identity has a Mini classic on sidewalks, but the most thrilling to me is To Live and Die in LA. You don’t even really want them to get away with it yet can’t help feeling relief at each escape. Then there is always the sense that they are just putting off the inevitable, which, at the end of the day, we all are.

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    Best “chase scene” may be the one that never was between two cars, never was part of a longer feature film, was filmed in real-time, and was itself the subject of a short French film called “C’etait un Rendezvous”.

  • avatar
    rpol35

    YES!

  • avatar
    jimmy2x

    Aside from “Bullitt” one of my other favorites was the McQueen’s motorcycle chase in “The Great Escape” – always thought that was great!

  • avatar
    rudiger

    There are rumors of a Bullitt remake with Brad Pitt. A better choice would be William L. Peterson. From his movie roles, not only in To Live and Die in LA but also in Manhunter, he has more of a low-key ‘McQueen’-type persona.

    I’m not saying Bullitt should be remade, but if it is, I’d much rather see Peterson in the lead role rather than Pitt.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    The freeway chase from “The Matrix Reloaded.” Hands down.

  • avatar

    Here’s a Video Link for C’etait Un Rendezvous, by Claude Lelouch

  • avatar
    Blue387

    Someone mentioned Short Time with Dabney Coleman:

  • avatar
    another_pleb

    I’m shocked that nobody has mentioned the 2CV chase in For Your Eyes Only.

    Surely in the top 10 for comedy value at least.

    I have always thought that there is far too much CGI gimmickery in today’s car chases. The Fast and the Furious series are particular culprits in my book.

    For a good race sequence, try Grand Prix. Terrible film but the footage of the Monaco Grand Prix is amazing.

  • avatar
    texlovera

    As many of you may be aware, there are several continuity “errors” in the Bullitt chase scene (how amy times does the same VW bug show up?)

    But it’s still my favorite. And no one could top McQueen.

  • avatar
    xyzzy

    Four words: Live and Let Die

  • avatar
    Loser

    Dirty Mary Crazy Larry, can’t believe no one has mentioned this movie yet. Cheesy…. but 90% of the movie is a chase.

  • avatar
    red60r

    According to the extra features in the re-released DVD, the Blues Brothers downtown Chicago chase was also shot in real time at actual speed. Further car connection: the trashed mall was the old Ford City Mall, about to be “renovated”; it was formerly a Ford assembly plant that I once toured on a school field trip with my fellow 3rd graders. Also, as the car flies off the unfinished freeway ramp in the “Illinois Nazis” chase, you can see some extra underpinnings on the Bluesmobile that would have kept it from bottoming out. OK, the airborne bit had to be simulated…
    Still my favorite after all these years. “We’re in a truck!”

  • avatar
    Joe ShpoilShport

    Had to log back in for this one because I’ve got one no one else (I think?) would consider. The movie? Slaughterhouse Five. The scene: can’t remember names but the main character’s wife is on the way to the hospital to see husband who just barely survived a plane crash. She is driving approx. 1969 Cadillac. White. She’s screaming insanely during the whole thing. Ends up killing herself crashing into the hospital emergency room entrance.

    Did I get any of that right? Been a while.

  • avatar

    As great as the scene is, SF residents have to laugh at the chase route…. literally all over the map. Even What’s Up Doc with Barbara Streisand and Ryan O’Neil got it better.

    Joe Shpoilsport: Yes, it was a white ’69 or ’70 Cadillac and she, Billy’s wife, was sobbing repeatedly, “I’ll loose weight for you Billy” on the way to the hospital.

    As an Audi driver, Ronin is may favorite.

  • avatar
    SonicSteve

    Rendevous

  • avatar
    jckirlan

    I thought I saw John and Ponch near the end of the highway chase.
    So many great classic cars in the whole chase though. Nice to try and pick them out.

    BTW Ronin has that chase beat hands down.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    There are many good/great ones, but Bullitt is the best overall.

    McQueen, the cars, no dialogue, the music, plus the duration, all conspire to make it tops.

    Ronin and Matrix Reloaded are awesome in their own way, but Bullitt beats them as the original.

  • avatar
    2Goldens

    Vanishing Point. The entire movie is one big chase scene with a Hemi Challenger.

  • avatar
    2Goldens

    The part where the Bluesmobile goes off the bridge was shot in Milwaukee, prior to the Hoehn Bridge on-ramp’s completion. If you look in the background, you see the (now) U.S. Bank building.

  • avatar
    2Goldens

    Short Time, too. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CE2i08S3YeY

  • avatar
    niky

    Of my top three…

    Rendezvous, though not a chase per se, is an amazing bit of in-car film… shot in real-time, without permission, hitting over 100 mph on the streets of pre-dawn Paris, on bias-ply tires… sublime.

    Ronin’s three chase sequences were all good… of course, no list of best chase scenes would be complete without a mention of the highway chase… excellent driving, excellent choreography, lots of real tension. Many highway chase scenes, like the one in the Matrix, don’t have that level of driving finesse… Flying down a freeway… against traffic… (literally flying, mind you…) Great stuff.

    The Bourne Supremacy deserves a nod as a terrific example of automotive ballet. The Bourne Identity had the memorable Mini chase scene, but the Supremacy chase scene was more frenetic, more brutal and one of the most amazing chase scenes on film. Sadly… the hyperkinetic camera work obscures most of the action… but you still get a gleaming of what’s happening, nonetheless… and are perhaps persuaded to buy or rent the DVD just so you can slow-mo it to figure out what’s going on.

    —-

    Honorable mentions go to Bullitt… the original “Gone in 60 Seconds”… though not for being a great film or especially well-filmed, but for the sheer endurance of both director/driver and hero car… a 1-hour chase scene? Madness.

    Oh… and for sheer enjoyment, nothing beats the million car pile-ups of the Blues Brothers.

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