Bullitt: San Francisco History

The movie Bullitt is an iconic movie about San Francisco, but wasn’t really about San Francisco. It was a cop movie released in 1968 that is famous for the car chase scene from Fisherman’s Wharf through Pacific Heights and ending with cars driving into the water and, yes…I have a connection to this movie.

Unlike Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine, the car chases were pretty accurate for the most part. They kept things together within a few blocks during the scene where Steve McQueen in his Mustang Fastback was ripping and sliding around the streets in that classic green car which I wish they were still producing today.

My connection to this movie is through my Uncle Al who ran Podesta Divers. They were a salvage operation that worked off of the piers of course. He was hire to pull the cars out of the bay when anyone filmed a movie here. While I can’t find it anymore because I was a little kid when Bullitt was filmed Uncle Al got me an autographed picture of Steve McQueen because I loved the car chase scene so much. Little boys love cars and to watch them racing around made them awesome.

The thing that makes this film so iconic for San Francisco is that during the chase scene you get to see so much of San Francisco in a short period of time that it’s almost like a walkthrough at high speed. They did such a good job that the National Film Registry in 2007 selected it for preservation for being, culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant. I would agree with them. The film just oozes San Francisco for that time period. The Mustang Fastback used in the movie was made famous on screen and became a must have car in 1968.

Steve McQueen was Bullitt who was a man’s man. He was more bad ass than a honey badger and didn’t take sh*t from no one. His attitude and the fact that he drove that Mustang in most of the stunts made him more of a bad ass of an actor. I was only able to find a part of the car chase scene, but enjoy it and if you haven’t seen the movie yet find a place where you can get it if you love San Francisco because it’s a part of our history and we shouldn’t forget.