A Look Behind The Awesome Tribute To ‘Bullitt’ On This Week’s ‘Archer’

Senior Writer
02.27.15 25 Comments
Archer Bullitt

FX

Aside from one of the most incredible Throwback Thursday photos we’ve ever laid eyes on, this week’s Archer also featured a wonderful tribute to the 1968 Steve McQueen crime thriller Bullitt. In the film, McQueen played a police lieutenant named Frank Bullitt – with that name, a guy has few career choices – tasked with protecting a mob informant who was set to testify against some truly dangerous people. Naturally, nothing went as planned, and Bullitt had only a few days to figure out what the hell went wrong. It’s a really great movie, and you should watch it this weekend.

One of the things that makes Bullitt such a good film is an action-packed car chase through San Francisco, as it featured some bad dudes in a ’68 Dodge Charger R/T being pursued by Bullitt’s ’68 Ford Mustang GT Fastback. In “The Kanes,” when Sterling Archer first looked at Lana’s father’s Dark Highland Green ’68 Mustang in his garage, there was a reason why he meeped like Beaker with ejaculatory joy. It’s the car from Bullitt. As Archer’s production designer and art director Neal Holman explained, there is really no greater car chase scene to work with.

This is the famed mustang from Bullitt. This is Archer’s dream. As giant Steve McQueen fans, we’re right there giggling along with him. Planning car chases for Archer is fun research, watching clip after clip, dissecting what works and what doesn’t. (Some terrible movies have some great car chase work, btw.) Inevitably, you find yourself going back to look at Bullitt. In Bullitt, EVERYTHING works, the iconic jumps, the smoking tires, the screaming hemis, the camera work, the editing, Steve McQueen’s blacker-than-black turtleneck, EVERYTHING WORKS. So why not do that?

Holman added that the goal “was to do an homage, but not a shot-for-shot remake” because those are mostly boring, and it’s way more fun for us as fans to identify the nods to the original. For example, take a look at the cab that brought Lana and Sterling to the Kanes’ home:

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And here’s the cab from Bullitt:

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Warner Bros.

The actual movie chase featured the gorgeous muscle cars getting airtime, like in this screen shot (it’s like they’d never heard of HD in ’68):

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Warner Bros.

There was no way that Sterling’s pursuit of the “bad guy” would remain grounded.

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Did you notice the little green VW Bug in that scene? It’s hard not to considering it is right there in the image. As Holman pointed out, that Bug, whether by mistake or design, shows up several times during the Bullitt chase scene (it’s first parked on the street, and then both cars fly by it at least twice), so they obviously had to include it in last night’s episode.

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Additionally, Holman said that fact-checkers and “Snooty San Franciscans” need not bother themselves with the accuracy of Sterling’s journey in “The Kanes” because “this chase follows a route that does not make any sense whatsoever.” The same goes for the Bullitt scene, so don’t bother spitting out your freegan meals in disgust. If anything, just try to spot your expensive rentals in the background of a beautiful shot like this:

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Or this:

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And then sit back and watch the inspiration for Archer’s car chase and marvel at a truly legendary piece of car porn…

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