Peter Yates, R.I.P.

BULLITT, Peter Yates, director, Steve McQueen, 1968

Men at Work: Yates and McQueen conduct a street-style seminar in San Francisco.

In Bullitt, ne plus ultra in the adrenaline-fueled cop drama department, the British-born director Peter Yates—who passed away Sunday at age 81 after a long battle with illness—created the most famous car chase in cinema history and laid a template for the rebellious cop hero that Hollywood would revisit early (and often) in the forty years to follow. Nominated by the Academy four times for his work, Yates was himself something of an outsider within the system who at times found great success and worked with many of the greats of the medium, but was not immune to the blockbuster trap (see The Deep). And though his films The Dresser and Breaking Away are terrific movies, the director will likely (and deservedly) always be remembered for that explosive moment of synchronicity when he and the then greatest star in the biz made a revolutionary movie that would become a paragon of men’s style.

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