Bullitt + The Getaway (1972) HD-DVDs
B Sound: C+ Extras: B Films: B
Steve McQueen’s biggest action hits happened at very opportune times in the
action genre and helped make it full-fledged and possible. As Dirty
Harry was still in turn-around with the likes of Frank Sinatra and John
Wayne attached to it, Sean Connery had just left the Bond series for the first
time and the British director Peter Yates delivered Bullitt in its time, it was a groundbreaking detective film just within
the genre itself as Frank Bullitt needs to find out who killed a star witness.
course, there are a few people who want Frank dead, which culminated into one
of the greatest car chases in cinema history where Frank breaks the record for
upshifting his Ford Mustang gearbox.
However, the film itself holds up very well thanks to the intelligent
Alan B. Trustman/Harry Kleiner screenplay (from Robert L. Pike’s book Mute
Witness), Yates masterful directing (see the underrated Suspect (1985)
if you think that’s a fluke), Lalo Schifrin score, William A. Fraker’s great
cinematography (made around the time he shot Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby) and a great cast that
includes Robert Vaughn, Jacqueline Bisset, Robert Duvall, Don Gordon, Norman
Fell, Simon Oakland, Vic Tayback, Georg Stanford Brown and two future female
stars in uncredited appearances: Joanna Cassidy and Suzanne Somers. No wonder it’s a classic.
film remained a favorite, Dirty Harry
was finally made by Don Siegel with Clint Eastwood and Sean Connery made one
more appearance as James Bond in Diamonds
Are Forever, McQueen knew the competition was in good running with
him. When he got his hands on Walter
Hill’s screenplay based on Jim Thompson’s novel for The Getaway, he knew he had to make it and turned to his old friend
Sam Peckinpah to direct. So picky was he
that though Peckinpah’s longtime composer (the great) Jerry Fielding did an
entire score, McQueen was so concerned about sounding or being predictable that
he had the score replaced with one by Quincy Jones with more of a Jazz/Pop
approach likely with Schifrin’s successful work at the time in mind.
time, he plays master thief Don McCoy, whose wife (Ali McGraw) has literally
slept with a prison warden to get him out of the slammer earlier than would
have otherwise happened. He is going to
pull of a big heist with her and hopefully be set for good, but some bad
foresight, backstabbing and other interferences all get in the way and the race
is on to steal and survive. Despite the
loss of Fielding’s fine score, the film was a hit and McQueen’s gamble on Jones
time, the cast included great performances from Ben Johnson, Sally Struthers,
Bo Hopkins and Slim Pickens, but what looked like a continuation of a big
action film career was not to be.
McQueen tried serious dramas, a disaster cycle blockbuster that was a
big hit, then became ill and died of lung cancer by 1980. Eastwood and Burt Reynolds overtook him as
the top box office star, Roger Moore successfully became a hit as James Bond
and his reign as the coolest star around ended.
great that Warner has wisely issued these classic back catalog titles early on
in HD-DVD, which we are covering here, plus Blu-rays as they cover both
formats. They are here in all their
special edition glory and instantly become two of the most desired classic
action titles around. So how do they
1080p digital High Definition presentations, with Bullitt in the flat 1.85 X 1 widescreen frame and The Getaway in the 2.35 X 1 scope
frame, despite the case misidentifying it as 1.85 X 1 as well. Both films at the time were issued at their
best in the great three-strip dye-transfer (IB/imbibition) Technicolor process,
which guaranteed very little grain, vibrant colors, depth, detail and warmth
that is only sometimes visible on these copies.
moments that are soft, but the issues with softness and detail are not as much
as an issue as they were with the HD-DVD of The Dirty Dozen and certainly not the problem it was on the HD-DVD
of Blazing Saddles (both reviewed
elsewhere on this site) and their Blu-ray counterparts. Director Of Photography Lucien Ballard (Peckinpah’s
The Wild Bunch, Stanley Kubrick’s The Killing) shot The Getaway in Todd-AO 35, a great anamorphic scope format (1971 –
1984) also used on memorable films like Logan’s
Run, Roman Polanski’s Macbeth, Conquest Of The Planet Of The Apes, Slaughter, Day Of The Animals, Slaughter’s
Big Ripoff, Junior Bonner with
McQueen, the original Mad Max, first
Conan The Barbarian, Flash Gordon (1980) and David Lynch’s Dune.
Following the Lynch film only on HD-DVD (and reviewed elsewhere on this
site), The Getaway is the second
Todd-AO 35 film in the format and the first in Blu-ray. Even with print issues, especially in the
darker scenes and their failure to sometimes resolve detail, these look better
than they have in a long time. Too bad
Warner did not have real Technicolor prints available to go by. Wonder where the negative materials are or if
real Technicolor prints are in the vault?
of widescreen films, seeing The Getaway in
Todd-AO 35 will be a revelation since the format was so good. This is big screen filmmaking, not to sell Bullitt short, but it sure beats HD
shoots and the usually generic Super 35 shooting we get today.
on Bullitt is Dolby Digital Plus 2.0
Stereo, but to my shock, it is still the older Chace Stereo upgrade form years
ago they have been using on home video since the film arrived on VHS. This is better than 1.0 Mono, but with the
master tapes of Schifrin’s score in stereo at least (?) and 5.1 channels now
available, this film deserves a 5.1 upgrade, even if this 2.0 Stereo and older
1.0 Mono tracks were also available. The
car chase would even be more exciting and if you do not believe me, just listen
to the 5.1 upgrade on the DTS DVD of the 1969 Bond film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (in the Ultimate Collection Volume Three reviewed elsewhere on this site
with the other three sets) and specifically the toboggan chase towards the end
of the film. The car chase here could
and should be that amazing. Otherwise,
dialogue is not bad for its age and sound effects hold up well enough. The
Getaway is in Dolby Digital Plus 1.0 Mono and has the original optical theatrical
sound, but Jones’ score is nowhere to be found in stereo either? The Fielding score was.
are many for both films, with both offering trailers, and The Getaway has an entire Peckinpah Trailer Gallery. Bullitt
also includes a fine full-length audio commentary by Yates, vintage Bullitt:
Steve McQueen’s Commitment To Reality featurette and two new
featurettes: Steve McQueen: The Essence of
Cool and The Cutting Edge: The Magic Of Movie Editing in 1080p HD and
5.1 Dolby. The Getaway additionally offers four Peckinpah scholars (Nick
Redman, Paul Seydor, Garner Simmons, David Weddle) doing a solid feature length
audio commentary, new featurette Main Title 1M1 - Jerry Fielding, Sam
Peckinpah & The Getaway, “Virtual” Reel 1 commentary by McQueen, MacGraw
and Peckinpah, Reel 4 Bank Robbery Sequence with Fielding’s alternate score and
Fielding’s score in audio-only form.
Both are archival for all intents and purposes.
entire Jerry Fielding Getaway score did arrive as a limited edition CD/DVD set
from Film Score Monthly’s FSM Soundtrack label, which we reviewed a while ago:
Title 1M1 featurette on the bonus DVD (where it apparently debuted) and
the score in PCM 2.0 16-bit/44.1kHz Stereo that sounds better than the Dolby
Digital version on this HD-DVD. It is
limited to only 3,000 copies, has a great booklet this version does not and
audiophiles will want to own it especially.
See the review for more details.
respectable remake of The Getaway
was made by Roger Donaldson (The World’s
Fastest Indian) in 1994 with Kim Basinger and Alec Baldwin in the MacGraw
and McQueen roles that worked very well, using the same screenplay, while Bullitt’s car chase is one of the most
imitated and copied moments in film (and TV) history.
these are the original classics and they have been done up nicely for the most
part. Both are a must for any serious HD
on the 1994 remake of The Getaway,
try this link for the HD-DVD:
- Nicholas Sheffo