90 user 85 critic

Pickup on South Street (1953)

Approved | | Crime, Film-Noir, Thriller | 1 August 1953 (Japan)
A pickpocket unwittingly lifts a message destined for enemy agents and becomes a target for a Communist spy ring.



(screenplay), (story)

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »


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Complete credited cast:
Zara (as Willis B. Bouchey)
Detective Winoki


On a crowded subway, Skip McCoy picks the purse of Candy. Among his take, although he does not know it at the time, is a piece of top-secret microfilm that was being passed by Candy's consort, a Communist agent. Candy discovers the whereabouts of the film through Moe Williams, a police informer. She attempts to seduce McCoy to recover the film. She fails to get back the film and falls in love with him. The desperate agent exterminates Moe and savagely beats Candy. McCoy, now goaded into action, confronts the agent in a particularly brutal fight in a subway. Written by alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


How the law took a chance on a B-girl... and won!


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

1 August 1953 (Japan)  »

Also Known As:

Blaze of Glory  »


Box Office


$780,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


| (DVD)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


The last of four films in four successive years that Thelma Ritter was nominated for the Best Supporting Actress Oscar. This film follows nominations for All About Eve (1950), The Mating Season (1951) and With a Song in My Heart (1952). See more »


A patented formula doesn't need to be stolen and smuggled out of the country. All you need to do is read the patent, it is public information. The entire premise of the patent system is to allow inventions to become well known in exchange for protecting the inventor's rights for a limited time. Secret weapons and trade secrets aren't patented, that's what keeps them secret. See more »


Capt. Dan Tiger: You'll always be a two-bit cannon. And when they pick you up in the gutter dead, you're hand'll be in a drunk's pocket.
See more »


Spoofed in Remington Steele: A Pocketful of Steele (1984) See more »


Music by Edmund Goulding
Lyrics by Mack Gordon
[played on Moe's phonograph]
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User Reviews

Forget the communist fervour and delve further.
9 November 2008 | by See all my reviews

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 enthused this adaptation with heavy set political agenda, something that many at the time felt was over done, but to only focus on its 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 50s, and i'm sure he was most grateful to the performance of Richard Widmark as McCoy, all grin and icy cold heart, his interplay with the wonderful Jean Peters as Candy is excellent, and is the films 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 the best of its most intriguing director. 9/10

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