Throughout film history, there has been a slew of iconic car chases, ranging from Steve McQueen’s ground-breaking, rubber-burning antics in Bullitt to Gene Hackman’s relentless pursuit of an elevated train in The French Connection. The following are the top three car chases in movie history.
Directed by Peter Yates, this movie set the bar for all subsequent car chase films. It was, without a doubt, the most exciting film to be released to date, and it continues to set the bar high for this particular type of cinematic action. Even today, it is considered revolutionary that the driver is almost always identifiable as Steve McQueen in almost every shot. The visceral editing of this car chase is widely believed to have been the most important factor in Frank P. Keller’s 1968 Academy Award victory. Keller’s attention to detail in terms of the timing of the cuts is what makes this sequence stand out — and continue to do so after all this time.
The Italian Job
In The Italian Job’s climactic chase sequence, in which Charlie and the rest of the team flee from the Italian police and the mob in little Mini Coopers, there is a slew of incredible stunts performed. A group of robbers drives their Minis down a flight of stairs, through the middle of buildings, and into sewage pipes to escape capture. The one who jumps from one building to another off the Fiat factory’s rooftop test track is one of the most daring of the bunch.
The French Connection
The French Connection features a hitman attempting to escape from renegade cop Popeye Doyle by fleeing from the street and taking a ride on an elevated train. Doyle, on the other hand, isn’t going down without a fight. As he pursues the train through the bustling streets of New York, he commandeers a civilian’s car and drives it. In the film’s policy consulting group, the climax of the sequence, in which Doyle shoots the hitman in the back while on the subway escalators, was controversial because some felt that shooting a suspect in the back was simply murder. However, William Friedkin has defended his decision, claiming that it is what Doyle’s inspiration, Eddie Egan, would have done in the same situation.