Pickup on South Street - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Pickup on South Street Reviews

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September 12, 2012
With its subtle political subtext, Pickup of South Street comes as one of the most violent noir movies. The suspense is smoothly building up until the last, crucial minutes. After a pickpocketing job went wrong, when a man stole a purse, which contained very valuable government information, people end up dead. Only the guy in possession of the precious object is the one, who can actually stop the whole farce. But because of his stubbornness and foolish attitude, more and more people become involved in the awful multinational affair. Yet after a few meetings with a beautiful young woman, he finally changes his mind, which brings the whole story to a truly climatic climax, and one of the most frightening subway fights in the history of movies. Some fine acting, and very decent cinematography.
April 21, 2012
Great noir with great performances from Widmark, Peters and especially Ritter. Extremely misogynistic and brutal, with dubious pro-McCarthyist politics (even a pick-pocket can help the fight against Communism).
½ April 2, 2012
This is a hard-boiled, hard-bitten New York noir from the mad-dog writer/director and all around tough-guy movie-maverick, Sam Fuller himself.

The pictures about this dame, see, and she be carrying some loot too hot to handle in this purse of hers, that is until she goes and gets it lifted off her person. The only catch is the police are looking for this particular item themselves, along with the feds and all the rest of them government types. The guy who lifts it, he don't know what he's got until its too late. Pretty soon, everyone's up to their necks in commie plots and secret microfilm formulas. The kinda stuff the movies are made of, right.

Well this flick's got it all. Suspense, murder, beautiful broads and a whole gang of smooth talking rats who have only one thing on their minds and ain't none of it any good. So do yourself a favor and go check it out for yourself and see what all the fuss is about. It's called Pickup on South Street. Don't forget the name. Tell 'em Mo sent you.
March 21, 2012
Pretty good noir from the 1950s, with solid acting by Richard Widmark and the always underappreciated Thelma Ritter.
January 29, 2012
Greatest Femmes Fatales in Classic Film Noir
½ January 7, 2012
Brisk and efficient. If only all movies were able to wrap up a story in 80 minutes.
½ December 17, 2011
Pickup on South Street is a brilliant film. It is about a pickpocket who lifts a message destined for enemy agents and becomes a target for a Communist spy ring. Richard Widmark and Jean Peters give amazing performances. The screenplay is well written. Samuel Fuller did a great job directing this movie. I enjoyed watching this motion picture because of the thrills. Pickup on South Street is a must see.
½ November 19, 2011
The best film noir that I've seen in a very long time. Great storyline combined with top casting, acting and direction make this a must see! Thelma Ritter is wonderful as Moe.
Super Reviewer
October 31, 2011
One of the great film noir's and my favorite early work of Sam Fuller.
½ October 6, 2011
Superbly acted drama about a pickpocket who picks the wrong pocket and gets more than he bargained for. Dark and moody, with genuinely interesting characters.
August 6, 2011
The old saying was "there is honour amongst thieves". The underclass of any era or society have their own moral codes, codes that those not of that class find incomprehensible. And within this class there are layers of trust, mistrust, betrayal and abuse. Jean Genet spoke of betrayal of those one had been friends with, loved and even trusted and been trusted by in terms almost sexual. Betrayal and abuse within the limits of their code of morals was accepted,and this betrayal included turning 'friends' into the authorities, it was indeed almost an expression of that trust. Candy seems only able to love a man who is prepared to rough her up, and rewards his love by betraying him, perhaps in her own mind for his own good. Skip measures trust by the amount of abuse she will take to protect him. This film explores this lowest strata of humanity and its code of morals, within which as Mo (Thelma Ritter) succinclty puts it - there are limits.
August 2, 2011
Now THIS is what true noir should be like.
½ July 13, 2011
Apart from some terrible music, this is a pretty good noir, even if the outcome is a little obvious early on.
July 6, 2011
Sammy Fuller's ode to pickpockets and the era of the 'red scare' is a fun, entertaining, and typically for Fuller, tough as nails flick that, while lacking here and there in directorial greatness, makes up for it with every frame being chalk full of the realness of Fuller's first hand experiences with the characters and the subject matter.
Fuller presents an unapologetic view of the shady and dangerous life of someone hunted not only by the police, but also the government. In short, classic Fuller.
Super Reviewer
½ June 27, 2011
A classic Sam Fuller film Noir. While it features all of the trappings of a detective story during the peak years of the Red Scare (communist spies, atomic espionage), Fuller makes these characters multi-dimensional. Not only are the cops less than honorable in their pursuit of the criminals, but the criminals themselves aren't particularly maladjusted people. In fact, Fuller shows that in many ways they are a victim of circumstance. Americans aren't basking in their lavish houses and doing their part to preserve their freedom and access to copious amounts of material wealth. Many have been worn down by the system and find that getting popped by a "red" is better than facing another day. And sometimes...just sometimes, being a pickpocket is more honorable than being a cop.
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.
½ June 19, 2011
Skip McCoy: "So you're a Red, who cares? Your money's as good as anybody else's."
April 18, 2011
The Sam Fuller method of True Love: When you first meet your woman, punch her in the face in the dark, then offer her a beer, hold her tenderly while making sure her face isn't too bruised up, then slap her around some more. Later, slap her around again along with some shoving and kicking. Guaranteed for the win! But when her ex slaps her around and shoots her, you take your revenge on that no-good punk for doing that to your special lady!
½ March 21, 2011
An 80 minute, barnstorming noir classic!!! Double cross, triple cross, Kriss Kross will make you "jump jump!!!" Not one ounce of celluloid fat on this BEAST of a melodrama. Jean Peters out Gloria Grahams Gloria Graham, Thelma Ritter chews up scenery till we can see the sound boom and Sam Fuller handles action better than Quentin Tarantino. Catch the Criterion DVD, featuring an interview with Fuller which is far more entertaining than most 'thrillers' you'll see this year. "Don't tell me!" he shouts; "Show me!!!" This film easily makes it onto my desert island flicks list. I'm off to find a copy of 'The Naked Kiss': it's Fuller time again...
February 21, 2011
Skip McCoy (Richard Widmark) is a low down dirty hood, a pickpocket with a string of offences. One more conviction and he'll be in Sing Sing for a long time. But you got to earn a living some how. On a packed subway train Skip spots a target, a young attractive woman (Jean Peters) and lets his wandering hands steal from her purse. Unbeknown to him, two FBI agents are following her. She's carrying microfilm with important atomic information that's to be passed on to a Communist organisation. Skip has finally hit the jackpot and reckons a big score is to be had. The FBI and the Reds attempt to track him down.

Director Sam Fuller certainly packs a punch with this hard hitting drama. And punches are literally laid out to the females, especially poor old Jean Peters as Candy, the prostitute who gets socked on the jaw as well as being tossed around like a rag doll. One often feels sorry for her, although she does get retribution. Weasel faced Widmark plays to type as the cocky tea leaf all dressed in his trademark fedora and suit. Sexual chemistry between the leads add fission as they try to outwit each other. Although it is Thelma Ritter as Moe who steals the film as a police informer with scruples.

Pickup On South Street is very much of it's time, a propaganda film that points decidedly at the "Commies" as the bad guys as oppose to the more sympathetic characters such as the stool pidgeon and the prostitute who become more patriotic as events unfold. All that is except Skip who will do anything for a quick buck. The Cold War casts a large shadow over the film. Interestingly the French, not liking the anti-Communist message, dubbed in a plot using drugs instead.

A dynamic, violent thriller, Fuller who also wrote the script delivers a visually rewarding film noir that never lets up. With action and interest in every scene and the location shots of New York excitingly staged.

All in all, a cracker!
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