7.8/10
9,157
85 user 77 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.

Director:

Writers:

(screenplay), (story)
Reviews

On Disc

at Amazon

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

People who liked this also liked... 

Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Kelly, a prostitute, traumatised by an experience, referred to as 'The Naked Kiss,' by psychiatrists, leaves her past, and finds solace in the town of Grantville. She meets Griff, the ... See full summary »

Director: Samuel Fuller
Stars: Constance Towers, Anthony Eisley, Michael Dante
Crime | Film-Noir | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A small-time grifter and nightclub tout takes advantage of some fortuitous circumstances and tries to become a big-time player as a wrestling promoter.

Director: Jules Dassin
Stars: Richard Widmark, Gene Tierney, Googie Withers
Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

Bent on winning a Pulitzer Prize, a journalist commits himself to a mental institution to solve a strange and unclear murder.

Director: Samuel Fuller
Stars: Peter Breck, Constance Towers, Gene Evans
Crime | Film-Noir | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A doomed female hitchhiker pulls Mike Hammer into a deadly whirlpool of intrigue, revolving around a mysterious "great whatsit."

Director: Robert Aldrich
Stars: Ralph Meeker, Albert Dekker, Paul Stewart
Gun Crazy (1950)
Certificate: Passed Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A well meaning crack shot husband is pressured by his beautiful marksman wife to go on an interstate robbery spree, where he finds out just how depraved and deadly she really is.

Director: Joseph H. Lewis
Stars: John Dall, Peggy Cummins, Berry Kroeger
Kiss of Death (1947)
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

With his law-breaking lifestyle in the past, an ex-con, along with his family, attempt to start a new life, knowing a betrayed someone from the past is bound to see otherwise.

Director: Henry Hathaway
Stars: Victor Mature, Brian Donlevy, Coleen Gray
Crime | Film-Noir | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Det. Sgt. Mark Dixon wants to be something his old man wasn't: a guy on the right side of the law. But Dixon's vicious nature will get the better of him.

Director: Otto Preminger
Stars: Dana Andrews, Gene Tierney, Gary Merrill
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A doctor and a policeman in New Orleans have only 48 hours to locate a killer infected with pneumonic plague.

Director: Elia Kazan
Stars: Richard Widmark, Paul Douglas, Barbara Bel Geddes
The Big Heat (1953)
Crime | Film-Noir | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

Tough cop Dave Bannion takes on a politically powerful crime syndicate.

Director: Fritz Lang
Stars: Glenn Ford, Gloria Grahame, Jocelyn Brando
Criss Cross (1949)
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

An armored truck driver and his lovely ex-wife conspire with a gang to have his own truck robbed on the route.

Director: Robert Siodmak
Stars: Burt Lancaster, Yvonne De Carlo, Dan Duryea
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A private eye escapes his past to run a gas station in a small town, but his past catches up with him. Now he must return to the big city world of danger, corruption, double crosses and duplicitous dames.

Director: Jacques Tourneur
Stars: Robert Mitchum, Jane Greer, Kirk Douglas
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

After being hired to find an ex-con's former girlfriend, Philip Marlowe is drawn into a deeply complex web of mystery and deceit.

Director: Edward Dmytryk
Stars: Dick Powell, Claire Trevor, Anne Shirley
Edit

Cast

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

Storyline

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

Taglines:

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


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

1 August 1953 (Japan)  »

Also Known As:

Blaze of Glory  »

Box Office

Budget:

$780,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (DVD)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Samuel Fuller was working on the set of Hell and High Water (1954)' when Tyrone Power came on the set with a copy of the "Los Angeles Times" announcing that this film had won the Bronze Lion at the Venice Film Festival. See more »

Goofs

At one point, Candy refers to an address in New York City on Houston Street (pronouncing it like John Huston or the Texas city). In reality, the street is pronounced "House-ton" - something known to every New Yorker. See more »

Quotes

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 »

Connections

Featured in Hollywood Mavericks (1990) See more »

Soundtracks

Mam'selle
Music by Edmund Goulding
Lyrics by Mack Gordon
Played on the phonograph
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
"Everyone Has A Price"
4 January 1999 | by (London, England) – See all my reviews

In this excellent Twentieth-Century Fox film-noir, the metropolis is a labyrinth of despair in which scavengers and predators survive by living off one another. Brooding cityscapes lower over puny humanity in bleak expressionist symbolism.

A prostitute has her purse snatched on the subway. It contains a microfilm, and a communist spy ring will go to any lengths to recover it. Two parallel investigations unfold as both spies and cops hunt down the precious information.

Anti-hero pickpocket Skip McCoy is played with scornful assurance by Richard Widmark. He knows the cops to be his moral equals and intellectual inferiors, so he taunts them: "Go on," he says to captain Dan Tiger (Murvyn Vye), "drum up a charge. Throw me in. You've done it before." In this pitiless world, the cops are just one more gang on the streets. Just as Candy the hooker bribes Lightning Louie to get a lead, so the police are busy paying stool pigeons for information.

It is hard to believe that when Widmark made this film he was already in early middle age. The 39-year-old star, coming to the end of his contract with Fox, plays the upstart Skip McCoy with the irreverent brashness of a teenager. Today it may not be acceptable for the romantic lead to punch his love interest into unconsciousness then revive her by sloshing beer in her face, but by the mores of the period it signified toughness - and Candy, after all, is a fallen woman.

Jean Peters is radiant as Candy. Here, right in the middle of her five-year burst of B-movie fame, she is beautiful and engaging as the whore with the golden heart. She is the story's victim, a martyr to her beauty as much as anything else. She means well, but is constantly being manipulated by cynical men - Joey, Skip and the cops.

The real star of this movie is New York. Haunting urban panoramas and snidering subway stations offer a claustrophobic evocation of the city as a living, malevolent force. Like maggots in a rotting cheese, human figures scurry through the city's byways. Elevators, subway turnstiles, sidewalks - even a dumb waiter act as conduits for the flow of corrupt humanity. People cling to any niche that affords safety: Moe has her grimy rented room, Skip his tenebrous shack on the Hudson River. As the characters move and interact, they are framed by bridge architecture, or lattices of girders, or are divided by hanging winch tackle. The personality of the city is constantly imposing itself. The angles and crossbeams of the wharf timbers are an echo of the gridiron street plan, and the card-index cabinets in the squadroom mimic the Manhattan skyline. When Joey's exit from the subway is barred, it is as if the steel sinews of the city are ensnaring him.

A surprising proportion of this film is shot in extreme close-up. Character drives the plot, as it should, and the close-ups are used to augment character. When Skip interrogates Candy, the close-up captures the sexual energy between them, belying the hostility of Skip's words. Jean Peters' beauty is painted in light, in exquisite soft focus close-ups. The device is also employed to heighten the tension. The opening sequence, the purse snatch, contains no dialogue: the drama relies entirely on close-up for its powerful effect.

Snoopers, and snoopers upon snoopers, populate the film. Moe (Thelma Ritter) makes a living as an informant, and her place in the hierarchy is accepted, even by her victims. When Skip observes, "she's gotta eat", he is chanting a recurring refrain. Just as 'straight' New Yorkers peddle lamb chops or lumber, the Underworld traffics in the commodity of information.

And yet even the stool pigeons are superior to Joey and his communist friends. Joey's feet on Moe's bed symbolise a transgression of the most basic moral code. Joey is beyond the pale. Moe will not trade with Joey, even to preserve her life: " ... even in our crummy business, you gotta draw the line somewhere."

"Pick-Up" was made in the depths of the Cold War. Richard Nixon had just been chosen as the Republican vice-presidential candidate, having made his name with his phoney Alger Hiss expose - bogus communist microfilm and all. The McCarthy show trials were a daily reality. We see the cops in the movie inveigh against "the traitors who gave Stalin the A-bomb".

New York can be seen as a giant receptacle in which human offal cheats, squeals and murders. Containers form a leitmotif throughout the film. Moe carries her trade mark box of ties, and candy's purse, container of the microfilm, is the engine of the plot. Skip keeps his only possessions in a submerged crate, symbolising his secretive street-wisdom. The paupers' coffins, moving down the Hudson on a barge, are containers of just one more cargo being shifted around the pitiless metropolis.

The film is a masterpiece of composition. Candy is shown above the skulking Skip on the rickety gangway of the shack, signifying her moral ascendancy. When the gun is placed on the table, the extreme perspective makes it look bigger than Candy - violence is beginning to dwarf compassion. The lovers are eclipsed by the shadow of a stevedore's hook, reminding us that their love is neither pure nor absolute, but contingent upon the whims of the sinister city. Enyard the communist is a shadow on a wall, or a disembodied puff of cigarette smoke. He is like the lone alley cat amongst the garbage - a predatory phantom of the night. Camera shots from under taxi hoods, inside newspaper kiosks and through the bars of hospital beds constantly reinforce in us the awareness that we are all trapped in the metropolis. We are civilisation's mulch.


67 of 83 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Widmark and Peters - Great Chemistry marhefka
Thelma's Best... DavidtheMovieLover
Richard Kiley Beating Jean Peters UAF-Nanooks
Revealing Mistake battlebot
Pickup on South Street princesscharming_2000
The Houston Street auction shop SylvesterMcMonkeyMcBean
Discuss Pickup on South Street (1953) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?