Steve McQueen was never a bigger, cooler star than in the 1968 cop flick Bullitt, directed by Peter Yates (1929-2011), whom SIFF is honoring as part of its ongoing In Remembrance series (which continues Dec. 19-22). Playing a San Francisco policeman humiliated by failing to protect a witness targeted by the mob, McQueen goes on a revenge tear with steely determination, barely a trace of emotion ever registering on his face. Yet unlike Clint Eastwood, then his closest male rival at the box office, there's always something vulnerable about his stoic reserve. He doesn't keep his mouth shut because he's tougher than anyone else, but because you sense that words, too, may let him down. McQueen essentially starts out whipped in this picture and never fully recovers. He's as traumatized by failure as success. Of course, what most people recall about Bullitt is the incredible car chase with McQueen at the wheel of a Mustang. (The famous car nut did most of his own stunt driving.) Jacqueline Bisset, Robert Vaughn, and Robert Duvall help round out the cast. (NR) BRIAN MILLER

Mon., Dec. 19, 8:45 p.m.; Dec. 20-22, 2011

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