In posting a blog wherein he listed his favorite car chases, Piper over at Lazy Eye Theatre has jumpstarted a major discussion... particularly whether or not the chase through the streets of San Francisco in Steven McQueen's Bullitt really does deserve the moniker of "greatest chase scene ever." Piper doesn't think it does; Moviezz and Adam Ross disagree. Well, this will probably sound like a very "diplomatic" response but upon viewing Bullitt again last night, I realized that I have to agree partially with Piper. The Bullitt chase, while brilliant, is not necessarily the greatest car chase ever put on film, though it's certainly one of the greatest. Personally speaking, I'd put it at second best (just ahead of the truck chase from Raiders of the Lost Ark).
So, which chase occupies the #1 spot?
I'm going to be completely unoriginal here and say that I think The French Connection features the best chase ever committed to celluloid. Of course, to give credit where it's due (or "pay proper respect" as Piper says here) Bullitt did come first and no doubt informed Billie Friedkin's approach to his chase scene. I think it's still just as thrilling and suspenseful now as it was when it first blew audiences away in 1970.
Incidentally, Woody Allen does a wonderful parody of that sequence in Annie Hall (which, like Star Wars, is also celebrating its 30th anniversary this year). Yet another reason to watch Annie Hall again!