Pickup on South Street


Action / Crime / Film-Noir / Mystery / Romance / Thriller

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh92%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright89%
IMDb Rating7.61014774

noircold warpickpocketfilm noir

Plot summary

Uploaded by: OTTO

Top cast

Thelma Ritter Photo
Thelma Ritter as Moe Williams
Richard Widmark Photo
Richard Widmark as Skip McCoy
Richard Kiley Photo
Richard Kiley as Joey
Jean Peters Photo
Jean Peters as Candy
1.23 GB
English 2.0
23.976 fps
1 hr 20 min
P/S ...

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by hitchcockthelegend9 / 10

Forget the communist fervour and delve further.

Skip McCoy is a three time loser pick pocket, unable to curb his instincts back on the street, he picks the purse of Candy on a subway train. What he doesn't realise is that Candy is carrying top secret microfilm, microfilm that is of high interest to many many organisations.

Director Samuel Fuller has crafted an exceptional drama set amongst the seedy underworld of New York City. Communist spies and shady government operatives all blend together to make Pickup On South Street a riveting viewing from first minute to the last. Based around a Dwight Taylor story called "Blaze Of Glory", Fuller infused this adaptation with a heavy set political agenda, something that many at the time felt was over done, but to only focus on the anti communist leanings is doing it a big disservice.

Digging a little deeper and you find characters as intriguing as any that Fuller has directed. The main protagonist for one is the hero of the piece, a crook and a shallow human being, his heroics are not born out of love for his country, they are born out of his sheer stubborn streak. It's quite an achievement that Fuller has crafted one of the best anti heroes of the 1950s, and I'm sure he was most grateful to the performance of Richard Widmark as McCoy. Widmark is all grin and icy cold heart, his interplay with the wonderful Jean Peters as Candy is excellent and is the film's heart. However, it is the Oscar nominated Thelma Ritter who takes the acting honours, her Moe is strong and as seedy as the surrounding characters, but there is a tired warmth to her that Ritter conveys majestically.

It's a "B" movie in texture but an "A" film in execution, Pickup On South Street is a real classy and entertaining film that is one of the best from its most intriguing director. 9/10

Reviewed by MartinHafer8 / 10

Tough and compelling

This is yet another gritty and compelling film directed by Sam Fuller in the early 1950s. This minimalist and fast-working director has something unusual for his earlier films--a cast with some stars. Richard Widmark, Jean Peters and Richard Kiley star in this film about a group of Communist agents who are trying to sneak secrets out of America--and they'll stop at nothing to succeed.

The film starts with Peters on a subway car being watched by federal agents. They know she is a link in a long espionage chain. Unknown to everyone is the wild card in the equation--a small-time pickpocket (Widmark) is also on the train and he manages to steal the secrets that Peters is carrying. Widmark thinks it's just another purse he's ransacked--only later does he realize the seriousness of what he's stolen. Now it's Widmark on his own--with Commies and the FBI hot on his trail.

Widmark and the rest are exceptional and the film is gripping from start to finish. Although she didn't get top billing, a special mention should be made of Thelma Ritter. This supporting actress had perhaps the performance of her lifetime as a stool pigeon. Seldom was she given this much of a chance to act and I was impressed by her ability to play a broken down and sad old lady.

As far as the script and directing go, they are very good--but with one small exception. At first, I loved the way Widmark and Peters interacted. It's one of the few times on film you'll see a woman punched square in the mouth! Now THAT'S tough. Later, inexplicably, they become amazingly close--too close to be believable. Still, with so much great drama and such an effective Noir-like film, this can be overlooked. See this film.

Reviewed by TheLittleSongbird8 / 10

On the uncompromising side of the street

Really liked the concept for 'Pickup on South Street', and have had a long-term fascination and love for film noir. Of which there are many classic ones too numerous to list right now, naming them too may be unfair too perhaps. The cast showed a lot of promise, Richard Widmark could do very little wrong in my eyes and was in a role that suited him to a tee and Thelma Ritter's knack for scene stealing was always a delight regardless of genre and story.

'Pickup on South Street' is not a masterpiece and there are many far better film noirs out there. That is in no way knocking the film, because 'Pickup on South Street' still manages to be very interesting and with the right amount of entertainment and grit. As well as being very well made and acted. If there was more subtlety and if one relationship was handled more realistically, it would have been an even better film than it was.

Do agree that the romance is far too rushed, with it having very little time to develop from feeling the complete opposite to begin with and then it happens just like that by not too realistic means.

The film has been criticised many times too for laying it on too thick with the quite unforgiving politics. That is very understandable and will agree with the criticism, as it is handled with very little subtlety with it being persistently referred to and some of it was not necessary (some might find it "dated" as well).

However, 'Pickup on South Street's' photography is rich in style and atmosphere, the eerie grit of the lighting too adding hugely to the suspense. Fuller's direction is well judged and gives the film plenty of momentum while with breathing space too. The music is slinky at times and haunting in others. The script is not perfect, but is mostly very smart and tautly written.

Similarly the story is always compelling, the gritty atmosphere beautifully handled and the suspense biting the nails when appropriate. Was surprised at how it pulled no punches and the uncompromising nature wasn't taken too far, the climax being the biggest example of this. The best thing about 'Pickup on South Street' is the acting, while Widmark is a menacing presence, Jean Peters charming and Murvyn Vye suitably caustic it is Ritter that makes the biggest impression. Her character is the most interesting and likeable and she is quite touching in it.

Overall, very good. 8/10

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