Pickpocket (1959)

Not Rated  |   |  Crime, Drama  |  16 December 1959 (France)
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Ratings: 7.9/10 from 12,366 users  
Reviews: 62 user | 83 critic

Michel is released from jail after serving a sentence for thievery. His mother dies and he resorts to pickpocketing as a means of survival.



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Complete credited cast:
Michel (as Martin La Salle)
Marika Green ...
Jean Pélégri ...
Dolly Scal ...
Pierre Leymarie ...
Kassagi ...
César Gattegno ...


Michel takes up picking pockets as a hobby, and is arrested almost immediately, giving him the chance to reflect on the morality of crime. After his release, though, his mother dies, and he rejects the support of friends Jeanne and Jacques in favour of returning to pickpocketing (after taking lessons from an expert), because he realises that it's the only way he can express himself... Written by Michael Brooke <michael@everyman.demon.co.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Crime | Drama


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

16 December 1959 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Ficktjuven  »

Filming Locations:

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (1965)

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Banned in Finland until 1965 because of its depiction of authentic pickpocketing techniques. See more »


Jeanne: I don't know. Perhaps everything has a reason.
Michel: Jeanne, are you that naïve?
See more »


Referenced in Hail Mary (1985) See more »


Fragments from Orchestral suite No. 7 (Suite in G, Overture)
By Johann Caspar Ferdinand Fischer (1656-1746) (uncredited)
See more »

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User Reviews

Comic relief in an otherwise humorless film
22 October 2004 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

To my previous comments, I should like to add/correct. When I said that Kassagi, who plays "first accomplice" (1er complice), was a 'real-life pickpocket who served as the film's technical consultant' I was not only inaccurate, but the fact that Kassagi was actually a stage magician has some bearing on the film itself, for although the scene in which the pickpockets rip off a series of train passengers is authentic in that it shows how pickpockets operate in terms of teamwork and speed, nevertheless, the moment when Kassagi (?) 'neatly replac[es] the lightened wallet [back] in a man's pocket' is not something a real pickpocket would likely do; it is, however, exactly what a stage magician would do. A real pickpocket has no audience (or so he hopes) whereas a magician wants the audience to see him make a monkey of the hapless "volunteer from the audience." In this case, Kassagi's idea (as I am sure it was) provides a brief moment of comic relief in the middle of a movie that is otherwise without a lot of humor. It is a welcome touch and Bresson was wise to keep it in. Now, I also engaged in a fallacy when I said that 'American pickpockets traditionally prefer to steal from behind to avoid any chance of a mark seeing their faces.' In reality, American pickpockets take from behind because of necessity: even by 1959 when 'Pickpocket" was released, American men more and more carried their wallets in the hip pocket whereas European men, as can be seen in this film, continued to use the inside breast pocket. While the business about seeing the mark's face is part of the lore of American petty criminals, it is not the cause of the American style of picking pockets, but rather a rationalization after the fact.

35 of 62 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Can someone who loves this film defend it? richardinkerry
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