Debating the greatest movies of the New Hollywood era yields no easy consensus, but in one subcategory—car chases—cinéastes basically fall into two camps: 1971’s The French Connection and 1968’s Bullitt. The former took more guts: Stunt driver Bill Hickman raced after an elevated subway car through the streets of Brooklyn, sans shooting permit. Yet for all of The French Connection’s nervous chaos, for raw grit and kinetic jolt Bullitt’s is the better chase. Here, Steve McQueen’s stoic police lieutenant peels through San Francisco’s hills like he’s ice skating through an Escher drawing: His Mustang always feels like it’s an inch above the ground and driving in any direction but straight. If the nine-minute chase lags, it’s worth it for the concluding explosion—which still teaches moviegoers the true meaning of “burning man.”
THE FILM SHOWS AT 8 P.M. AT THE AMERICAN CITY DINER AND CINEMA CAFÉ, 5532 CONNECTICUT AVE. NW. FREE. (202) 244-1949.