Another classic checked off the list, and I can see why it has gained such mystique. Steve McQueen is icy through and through as a cop charged with getting a turncoat mobster to trial to testify against his former bosses, his cold stares feeling almost as ruthless as the crime family operations. I really enjoyed the relatively quiet nature of the movie, letting the atmosphere and McQueen’s demeanor do the talking in place of an abundance of unnecessary words. It displays a level of trust in its players and audience that wasn’t always typical of the era.
And, of course, there’s that car chase, famous for being the longest on record at the time it was made. Even though by now I have seen hundreds of others, this one still managed to bring a major sense of adrenaline as they race through the hills of San Francisco and beyond. This is the car chase that produced countless loving imitations. It’s a thrilling sequence that holds up amazingly well fifty years after it’s release.
The script gives us thrills that build slowly and reveal at the right times, and the pacing is handled very well. Yates directs with precision and the finished product is slick, smart and memorable. And not just because of the epic car chase.