Peter Yates, the British director who earned Academy Award nominations for "Breaking Away" and "The Dresser" (each film also garnering nominations for Best Picture), died in London on Sunday. Perhaps foremost among his accomplishments, Yates is responsible for one of the most significant scenes in movie history: the car chase scene in "Bullitt," featuring Steve McQueen. As the Los Angeles Times obituary describes it:
During the making of "Bullitt," McQueen was more than willing to get behind the wheel of his police detective character's dark green Mustang fastback for the chase sequence with the bad guys in a Dodge Charger.
In a 1992 Associated Press interview, Yates remembered McQueen as "a lot of macho," which became abundantly clear while directing one part of the chase.
"I was in the back of the Mustang and Steve was going about 120 mph," Yates recalled. "We came to the last downhill section and when we got to the top of the hill Steve was still going pretty fast. I tapped him on the shoulder and said, 'We can slow down now, we're almost out of film.' Steve very calmly said, 'We can't. There aren't any brakes.'"
Here's the scene:
In 2007, the Library of Congress added "Bullitt" to the National Film Registry, which recognizes "culturally, historically or aesthetically" significant films.