Tonight, Friday night, was Steve’s Choice. I had the power to choose our movie without fear of contradiction. At first I was thinking I’d use this wild card to full advantage, watch something that Nikki would ordinarily veto – The Empire Strikes Back, maybe, or Gamera: Guardian of the Universe. But I wasn’t in the mood for anything like that. And rather than be predictable (she doesn’t know how close she came to having to watch The Texas Chain Saw Massacre again) I went with something I hadn’t yet seen, the Steve McQueen tour de force, Bullitt.
As the movie started, we’re thinking “That can’t be his real name. Surely it’s a nickname the cops gave him. His name’s Frank Maguire or something like that – Frank “Bullitt” Maguire.” But for the spelling. “Why would they misspell his nickname?” It didn’t make sense. And sure enough, before long someone referred to him as “Lt. Bullitt” and blew that thinly constructed theory to pieces.
The movie was tight, and the car chase through the streets of San Francisco was as tense as I've always heard it was. McQueen was just McQueen: cool and collected, always in charge, even when confronted by Chalmers (Robert Vaughn) about his maybe not-so-by-the-book police work. Bruce Willis might have quipped something and walked away smirking. Not so, McQueen. He politely excused himself and walked away. Class act.
At one stage, Nikki turned to me and asked when they were going to remake it. We
Wefigure it won't be long. Probably star Will Smith. That's okay, as long as he maintains McQueen's aura of cool.
Damn good movie. Can't believe it's taken me this long to see it.
Steve's Choice night! I love the our choice idea -- the chance to pick something, as Steve suggested, that one or the other of us might not initially jump for. It's succeeded in the past. Steve, for instance, might have looked past a movie like The Upside of Anger, while I would certainly have resisted Event Horizon, and yet sharing these movies, we've both found reason to enjoy them.
So, the idea of Steve picking something, or myself, has the potential to open quite a few doors. We joke that for the project I'll make him watch High School Musical 2 and he'll sit me down to revisit the latest King Kong, but we figure this project is not about either of us suffering. It's about sharing, and mind-opening. So, I was excited for Steve to pick something he really wanted me (or us) to see. I thought, though, for his first Steve's Choice, he'd bring our a classic film noir picture, or a science-fiction film I'd yet to see. Instead, he brings out Bullitt, a film neither of us had seen, and have cursed ourselves for since it finished.
That's why I love this project -- discovery, learning, indulging in the history of film. Bullitt is a deserved classic. It's a slow and steady police-procedural-whodunit with car chases. It's also very smart. Even for its time, it resists overplaying its hand, so that we're still excitedly piecing together the mystery of Johnny Ross until moments before the end of the film.
It's during the final revelations, too, that you begin to suspect the mystery wasn't the most interesting bit of the movie. I found myself too glued to Steve McQueen's polite defiance of his superiors. That famous picture of him leaning against a doorway (used on the posters and DVD cover) radiates no-nonsense cop-ness in the style of Harry Callahan. Not so at all. I'm shocked a bit now, that Steve and I haven't had McQueen on the top of our favourite actor lists prior to watching this film. We both realised that we'd seen only a few of McQueen's movies, mine limited only to Papillon, The Towering Inferno, and The Great Escape -- none of which I remember discussing with McQueen at the centre of the conversation. This, I've come to find out, is a major blight on my record. Especially since I've seen every Eastwood cop movie, every Paul Newman detective movie, and even a few Chuck Norris kickboxing investigator films.
So here we are, Day 4 of the project and already a valuable lesson has been learned. More movies like this one. You can bet McQueen will show up again in our chats this year. (McQueen's final ribbing of Robert Vaughn in this movie will stay in my memory for a long time.)
Seriously, though, what could be more fun for me that listening to Steve rip into High School Musical 2, a movie made for the MST-ie treatment? Reconsider, won't you?