Let’s cut to the Frisco chase

Fifty years af­ter Steve McQueen’s Mus­tang took to the hills, this city is still the star of the big screen, says Kathy Arnold

The Daily Telegraph - Travel - - FRONT PAGE -

With the bon­net of the sleek sil­ver Mus­tang point­ing to the sky, I changed gear and headed up oh-so-steep Tay­lor Street. Once over the crest, San Fran­cisco Bay glit­tered in the dis­tance. But with the “down” as pre­cip­i­tous as the “up”, there was no time to “ooh” and “aah”. Con­cen­tra­tion was re­quired as I fol­lowed the screech­ing-tyre route of Steve McQueen, as he played cat-and­mouse with the bad guys in the 1968 film Bul­litt.

That 11-minute chase was more than ex­cit­ing: it was revo­lu­tion­ary. “There were so many firsts in the film,” Cal­i­for­nia-based stunt driver Rocky Capella had told me when I was re­search­ing the route. “There were over-the-shoul­der, hand-held shots from the back seat, get­ting close-ups of the ac­tors ac­tu­ally driv­ing. And, when every­one else was speed­ing up films ar­ti­fi­cially, McQueen and his stunt dou­ble drove that dark green Mus­tang flat out at some crazy speeds.” No won­der, even af­ter 50 years, that chase still sets the gold stan­dard.

The footage was shot on ver­tig­i­nous streets all across San Fran­cisco, end­ing with a spec­tac­u­lar crash out­side the city lim­its. Splic­ing it all to­gether won Bul­litt an Os­car for edit­ing. Be­hind the wheel of my mod­ern Mus­tang, I kept my speed se­date: un­like McQueen, I had to watch for cross traf­fic ffic and ab­sent-minded tourists. But I had a ball, es­pe­cially on Lom­bard rd Street, nick­named the “Crookedest est Street in the World”. Here, flower beds dou­ble as chi­canes and crowds wait to snap pho­tographs – but not just t of me. I was in a long queue of cars, tak­ing king it in turn to slalom care­fully down own the snake­like curves.

But San Fran­cisco has more than Bul­litt in its port­fo­lio. o. The roller-coaster hills, the ca­ble ble cars and the Golden Gate Bridge have long in­spired d direc­tors; and no one fell un­der its spell more than Al­fred Hitch­cock. This year ar also marks the 60th an­niver­sary of Ver­tigo, his s psy­cho­log­i­cal thriller star­ring James Ste­wart and Kim No­vak.

Many con­sider this to be Hitch­cock’s vis­ual love e let­ter to the city. For the

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The God­fa­ther.

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