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On the plus side, there are interesting shots of Capetown and of Table Mountain. Not that many people know what Capetown looked like in 1967. Not that many people know what country Capetown is IN for that matter, outside of social activists, gold speculators, and surfers. No, it's not near Provincetown. Also there are interesting shots of Jacqueline Bisset at her most -- well, let's use the word "appealing." Her looks are unimpeachable. James Brolin, young and handsome in a mannequin-like way, does pretty good impressions of Clark Gable and Ronald Reagan in other venues.
But you have to ask. Why do they take a peerless piece of cynical and brutal trash like "Pickup on South Street" and do it in color with lesser performers and slipshod direction?
Brolin simply can't SMIRK as well as Richard Widmark. And Bisset just looks too elegant, as opposed to the sluttish and overly made-up Jean Peters in the original. Compare the scenes in which the two actresses utter the same lines -- "You're talking like it was HOT, Joey." Bisset sounds as if she's commenting on the pepper pot soup at Bookbinder's Restaurant. With Peters you know exactly what she means. And Claire Trevor, a decent enough actress in her own right, shouldn't be asked to impersonate Thelma Ritter. Nobody on earth can imitate Thelma Ritter.
Fuller's direction in the original was immediate and claustrophobic. His characters brimmed with verisimilitude. The actors here are going through their paces in settings that aren't nearly seedy enough. I'm leaving the politics aside.
Stick with the original by all means.
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