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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

"Bullitt" Car Chase - Behind the Camera Story!



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Thanks to Wikipedia! The back of the camera story behind the famous Mustang versus Charger chase in Steve McQueen's movie "Bullitt"! Can you believe that Ford wanted to put the bad guys in a Galaxie? Holy Cow, that would have changed the whole experience!!!

Filming

The total time of the scene is 10 minutes and 53 seconds, and it began in the Fisherman's Wharf area (at Columbus and Chestnut), followed by Midtown shooting on Hyde Street and Laguna Street, with shots of Coit Tower and locations around and on Filbert and University Streets. The scene ends at the Guadalupe Canyon Parkway in Brisbane, out of the city.[8]
Two 1968 390 V8 Ford Mustang fastbacks (325 hp) with four-speed manual transmission were used for the chase scene, both owned by Ford Motor Company and part of a promotional loan agreement with Warner Bros. The Mustangs' engines, brakes and suspensions were heavily modified for the chase by veteran car racer Max Balchowsky. Ford Motor Company had also originally loaned two Ford Galaxie sedans that were intended to be used in the chase scenes, but the producers found the cars entirely too heavy to put through jumps over the hills of San Francisco without the cars' suspensions being severely damaged. The Galaxie sedans were replaced with two 1968 375 hp 440 Magnum V8-powered Dodge Chargers that were bought outright from Glendale Dodge in Glendale, California.[citation needed] The engines in both Chargers were left largely unmodified, but the suspension was mildly upgraded to cope with the demands of the stunt work.
The director called for speeds of about 75–80 miles per hour (121–130 km/h), but the cars (including the ones containing the cameras) reached speeds of over 110 miles per hour (180 km/h) on surface streets. Driver's point-of-view angles were used to give the audience the "feel" of the ride as the cars jumped the hills. Filming the chase scene took three weeks, resulting in 9 minutes and 42 seconds of film. During this film sequence, the Charger loses five wheel covers and has different ones missing in different shots. As a result of shooting from multiple angles simultaneously, and some angles' footage used at different times to give the illusion of different streets, the speeding cars can be seen passing the same green Volkswagen Beetle four different times, and the same blue Chevelle Malibu SS396 with a black vinyl top three times. The Charger also crashes into the camera in one scene and the damaged front fender is noticeable in later scenes. After the Charger hits a parked car, it disappears for a split second from the screen before the scene is changed. The San Francisco authorities did not let the filmmakers film the car chase on the Golden Gate Bridge, but they did permit the passage to be filmed in Midtown locations including the Mission District, and in neighboring Brisbane, on the city's outskirts.
McQueen, an accomplished driver, drove in the close-up scenes, about 10% of the chase in the film. The stunt coordinator, Carey Loftin, hired stuntman and motorcycle racer Bud Ekins, and McQueen's usual stunt driver Loren Janes, to do the dangerous stunts in the Mustang.[9] Ekins is also the stunt man who lays down his bike in front of a skidding truck during the chase (Ekins also doubled for McQueen in the sequence of The Great Escape in which McQueen's character jumps over a barbed wire fence on a motorcycle). The Mustang’s interior rear view mirror goes up and down depending on who is driving; when the mirror is up (visible) McQueen is behind the wheel, and when it is down (not visible) Ekins is driving. The black Dodge Charger was driven by Bill Hickman, who also played one of the hitmen and helped with the choreography of the chase scene. The other hitman was played by Paul Genge who had played another character who rode a Dodge off the road to his death in an episode of Perry Mason - "The Case of the Sausalito Sunrise" two years earlier.
In a magazine article many years later, one of drivers involved in the chase sequence remarked that the stock Dodge 440s were so much faster than the Mustang that the drivers had to keep backing off the accelerator to prevent the Dodge from easily pulling away from the Mustang.  Of the two Mustangs, one was scrapped after filming due to liability concerns and the surviving backup car was sold to an employee of Warner Brothers' editing department.[citation needed] The car changed hands several times, and Steve McQueen at one point made an unsuccessful attempt to buy it. The Mustang is rumored to have been kept in a barn in the Ohio River Valley by an unknown owner.[10]

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