Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Bullitt treatment notes (1986)

The following
fascinating exchange discussing a line-by-line treatment of Bullitt in 1986 has recently come to light. The remake of the classic Steve McQueen cop film, with Michael Crawford as the eponymous character, was never made. The producers are obviously at pains to ensure the newer film stands apart from other classic movies still then fresh in the minds of cinema goers. The identity of the author of the sarcastic ripostes should be obvious to those in the know:

Music by Lalo Schifrin too similar to
Dirty Harry

Crook crosses off too-neatly written list in cab: his handwriting is too neat

  • The list was not handwritten, it's a printed checklist from the local tourism authority that all crooks pick up when they arrive in major crime destinations in the US, like San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, etc. Most crooks will have standard tasks they have to perform when they arrive, like a) ring local criminal contact b) pickup messages at big city hotel front desk etc.
Bullitt's serious partner Sergeant Dalgety wakes him up at his pad after a late night. This is too reminiscent of Cloudy and Popeye in The French Connection

  • This reminds me of that scene where Doyle picking up that young woman after simply following her on her bike. After watching the deleted scenes, it's even more unbelievable, because he almost knocks her down with his car, and then frightens and bullies her.
Bullitt's junior partner stands around with his hand down his pants outside Chalmer's house

  • It's an astute reference to the soon-to-be-fashionable 1970s openness about sex in movies
Witness left in hotel room alone before cops arrive

  • Not credible. It was Chalmers who left him in there, and Bullitt comments on what a poorly chosen location it is, therefore Chalmers is a fool.
Simon Oakland as grizzly, but lovable boss, too much like Kolchak the Night Stalker

Girlfriend character is an artistic designer in San Francisco highly reminscent of Vertigo

  • But the character asking Bullitt to read out some numbers shows she is skilled at maths and calculation, which was unknown for female characters in movies at that time.
A chain on a door would supposedly prevent it from being kicked open by Mob assassins

  • I can't believe you would doubt this!
Junior partner cop injured and almost leaves a grieving widow: very like Dirty Harry

Emergency services beat Bullitt to the hotel, even though he distinctly said he'd be there 'in five minutes.'

  • So what? He meant five minutes in screen time, which it definitely was! Deleted scenes include alternative versions where he says 'I'll see you in the next scene' and 'I'll see you at the hotel lobby set' but they were deemed too challenging for audiences of the time.
No first aid for seriously injured cop in back of ambulance

  • What do you expect? They were actors pretending to be medics. Do you expect actors to start cutting open the chest of a gunshot victim and removing the bullet? I can't believe how naive you are!
Nurse's smock not neatly ironed in operating theatre

  • This was deliberate, to symbolise the unrest in American society about the progress of the Vietnam War.
Chalmers makes a request to a nurse that Dr Willard 'be replaced.' As we know, nurses don't manage staffing in hospitals

  • How naive! You really have trouble separating fiction from reality, don't you? There's no such person as Chalmers, he's just a character played by Robert Vaughn, the actor. And she wasn't a nurse, she was the Casting Director dressed up as a nurse, so it makes perfect sense.
Geriatric assassin runs like Steve Austin and escapes through tiny ceiling-high window

  • The character's name, according to the soundtrack CD, is Ice-Pick Mike, confirmed by the weapon he brandished earlier in the scene. He is small, so he can fit through tiny windows, and he has obviously used the ice-pick to lever himself up into the window.
Doctors fail to use defibrillators in ICU on myocardial infarction

  • They're actors, remember? Am I getting through to you?
Bullitt instructs the experienced driver of a hearse with a corpse in the back to go to 'the city morgue.'

  • Doesn't Bullitt request an unmarked ambulance in the previous scene? Therefore, the driver is an experienced driver of an ambulance, and I would hope that when a body is put into the back of an ambulance the driver doesn't automatically drive to the morgue everytime.
Shotgun pock marks on hotel wall magically appear after assassination

  • It's nothing to do with the shotgun. The police left the windows open to air out the room. The pock marks are evidence of the ensuing wind erosion.
Dalgety and Bullitt play good Cop, bad Cop with concierge. French Connection?

  • In the French Connection, Cloudy is not present at Popeye's interview with the concierge.
Armed only with the fact that the witness arrived in a 'Sunshine Cab,' Bullitt manages to track down the cab driver in a city of two million people

  • See next response
Assassins inexplicably start tailing cab with Bullitt in it

  • They didn't know Bullitt was in there. When they heard that the guy they tried to kill arrived in a Sunshine Cab, they knew which cab company it was, but they didn't know which driver. However, they thought, if they're going to talk to more than five hundred cab drivers, they might as well start with the one who was famous for looking like Boo Radley in To Kill a Mockingbird. Therefore, by pure chance, they were tailing the cab driver for the same reason Bullitt was talking to him, to get Robert Duvall's autograph.
'Wire service scam' too close to The Sting

  • What wire service scam? Did we watch the same movie? Isn't it just an early fax machine?
Bullitt instinctively recognises the Dodge Charger as belonging to the assassins, having never seen it or them before

  • He had seen the car before, he first saw it while rehearsing the car chase scene.
The streets of San Francisco apparently jammed with identical green Volkswagens

  • SF was hosting a convention of Volkswagen owners.
The Dodge loses six hubcaps during the chase

  • The deleted scenes include a shot of the assassins slowing down to pick up the hubcaps the first couple of times it happens.
Girlfriend shocked that a homicide detective's work involves murder victims

  • Bullitt had only ever told her he was a greeting card salesman, and the trip to the motel together was merely a Customer Service Call. (the dead woman was a relative of a client who purchased one of his bereavement cards.)

What kind of name is 'Bullitt'?
  • He came from a famous Kentucky farming family. He also had some cousins who joined the police department and changed their names appropriately eg Cannon, Ironside
Bullitt and Dalgety compromise evidence by rifling luggage without gloves, despite being aware of the importance of fingerprints

  • They're experienced detectives. They could tell at a glance that there were no fingerprints on anything in the suitcases. But if you want to talk about being careless with evidence, let's look at what Doyle and Cloudy did with the drug filled car in FC.
The departure board of San Francisco International, a major airport serving two million people, lists only six flights

  • All the other flights were not listed because they were not open to the general public. They were restricted to the Volkswagen conventioneers heading home.
Bullitt, despite having an entire airport apron on which to chase villain, is almost crushed by a 707. Chase on runway and apron far too close to Heat by Michael Mann

  • The grass was too muddy

    No comments:

    Post a Comment