Peter Yates, the British filmmaker whose credits include the giddy caper flick The Hot Rock, the heartwarming small-town comedy/drama Breaking Away, and the Jacqueline-Bisset-in-a-wet-T-shirt classic The Deep, died Sunday of heart failure. He was 81.
As enjoyable as those films are (seriously, they’re all on Netflix Instant, we can wait), Yates is probably best remembered for Bullitt, his lean, mean 1968 cop flick featuring Steve McQueen at his absolute coolest. And Bullitt is best remembered for its jittery, thrilling car chase — a rip-roaring, tire-squealing pursuit through the streets of San Francisco that set the template for decades.
Yates’s chase has an immediacy (McQueen did much of his own driving) and bareness (after it gets going, there’s no need for a pushy score to assure us of how exciting it is) that has been frequently imitated, but never quite duplicated. Here (in chronological order) are a few of the films that have come closest.