Pickup on South Street Reviews
Richard Widmark is way on top of his game as a smart-alec -- he's really great -- but the highlight performance of the film was the first scene for "Moe," the street peddler/informer, played by Thelma Ritter. Later, in her apartment, you are not seeing a movie -- you're seeing a real person. I've never seen anyone "act" so real I felt like I was looking into a real room until Ritter's performance -- right down to the way her hair stuck out a bit when she removed her hat.
About a million other things just *worked,* from the way Lightning Louie picks up money with his chopsticks to the way Candy's jewelry clicks when she flicks Moe's hand away from her brooch, to the way Moe gets the dollars and change from the police captain across the FBI guy's chest -- and even the way the captain opens his filing cabinet, like he's been doing it in that way in that room for many years. "Pickup On South Street" is detailed moves (directing) with consummate performances (acting) and superb now-nostalgic visuals of the day, such as the panel truck, the boards leading to the shack out on the water, the dumbwaiter, -- and the unforgettable place Skip stashes his pocket pickings. Wonderful stuff.
"Pickup On South Street" is also one of the few movies where, even though the characters aren't perfect, you do care about them -- perhaps because they have been somewhat branded by their pasts in ways that are hard to escape: Skip as a "three-time loser" and Candy as a youngish woman who has "knocked around" a lot. When these people behave a little more badly than you'd expect, it's in sort of novel ways that make it seem you're looking in at people you'd never otherwise imagine -- and yet you know that they are possible because the actors make them so recognizably human. 5 Stars. 4-20-13
With this, Fuller throws a monkey wrench in the classic battle between American good versus Communist evil. I don't know how this one got passed the censorship, but maybe as long as Communists were vilified, then they didn't care so much about the subtext. It is a smart and subtly subversive noir and is well worth a watch.
Samuel Fuller's Pickup on South Street illustrates that heroes can sometimes spring from some very dark places.
High on my list of favorite film noirs.
Widmark was always good at playing sleazeballs, and he doesn't disappoint here. You wanna slap him every time he's on screen. But more memorable are Thelma Ritter -- was she EVER bad in a role? -- as Mo, the police informant who sells ties as a front and is saving money for her funeral (it's implied that she is dying), and a horrible scene in which Richard Kiley beats the $#!+ out of Jean Peters. To his credit, director Sam Fuller did not make this one of those old "guy slaps girl around, girl likes it, falls into guy's arms". Nope -- Kiley gives Peters a workover that would make Mike Tyson jealous -- he punches and slaps her, throws her against the dresser, the wall and the floor in a complete rage. And all because she lied to him.
The only real problem I have with this is the happy ending. It seems tacked on, and kinda messes up the momentum the film had going. Otherwise, a good evening's entertainment.
richard widmark plays a pickpocket whose thievery casts great hinderance to communist conspiracy so he sinks into a target as the ultimate wanted man. it evocates the involvements of walks of life in the ghetto, such as thelma ritter's stool pidgeon who is keen to gather the sum of her final decent funeral; jean peters as the sappy girl who descends as the mistress of abusive communist agent. the usage of slangs are a hard-boiled defiance for certain audience to follow. eventually widmark vows to beat down the communist not for the sake of his devoted enthusiasm over this country but for avid sense of vegence for his beloved girlfriend who refuses to doublecross him.
"pickup on south street" might be a new breed of film noir then, and absolutely iconclastic to the classic noir heroism magnefied by humprey bogart or dick powell as the die-hard noir savior who straightens things off with un-fading mettle and belief into the righteous. the abscence of heroism is one particular trait for this flick as well as the specific indication toward fanatic maccathyism. fuller cannot help but vent his patterned reel of newspaper realism.
and also, the major star richard widmark does ignite the screen with his irreconciled paroteriat pride while thelma ritter sneers at you with her street-cred then it shatters into pieces of broken ghetto dream as she gets shot to death by the communist at last.
A small time thief finds himself on the wrong side of both spies as well as the law when he pick the wrong pocket, and while it ends on a possibly far-fetched note, it's still amazingly watchable and holds up rather well even after all these years.
Well worth a look, give it a rental.