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Pickup on South Street (The Criterion Collection)
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The film features a first rate cast. Except possibly for his screen debut in KISS OF DEATH, Richard Widmark was never better than he was in this film as three-time loser pickpocket Skip McCoy. The ultimate anti-hero, McCoy's motives are complex and opaque, even at the end. Jean Peters, later Mrs. Howard Hughes (to whom she was married from 1957 to 1971), is fetching as Candy, a shady dame with a past but with the proverbial heart of gold. Richard Kiley is suitably slimy as Joey, the seller of secrets to the Communists. Kiley would later (after his voice darkened) become the narrator for dozens upon dozens of National Geographic specials (such a familiar voice that they joke in JURAISSAC PARK about getting him to do the voice over for their guided tour).Read more ›
Richard Widmark also lends one of the greatest performances of his career, right up there with his roles in "Kiss of Death" (1947) and "Judgement at Nuremburg" (1961). The Criterion release provides a magnificent restoration of this underrated film noir gem.
I am rather baffled as to the clueless wonder at Amazon.com who tagged this motion picture with an NC-17 rating. Either that person didn't see the film, or the lights are on but nobody's home. "Pickup on South Street" isn't a skin flick. It is one of the greatest dramatic thrillers of the 1950's.
Get this DVD on Criterion. It's an essential classic for any serious film collector.
In Jules Dassin's Night and the City (1950) and Pickup on South Street, however, Widmark truly comes into his own with two of the finest film noir performances of all time. The stage trained actor had added some substance to the flash. You find yourself sympathizing with the callous Skip McCoy (Pickup on South Street) and nervous Harry Fabian (Night and the City) despite their bad qualities. There's an underlying vulnerability behind all the tough talk and rough gestures (the fact that Widmark looked so undernourished in the '50s may have also had something to do with it).
With the uncompromising Sam Fuller (Shock Corridor) at the helm and Thelma Ritter (All About Eve, Rear Window) in a scene-stealing supporting role, you can't go wrong. An essential release for the film noir afficionado.
The acting: Widmark is at his best. His Skip is a bomb threatening to explode any time. This is probably Jean Peters's best acting job in a movie. This actress has a lot of fire in her that she seems to keep under control, but - like Widmark - you can sense it can explode any time. Thelma Ritter (who was nominated for an Oscar for her performance) is tops as well and so is Richard Killey. These four actors in fact should have all been nominated for awards and certainly the film should have been - but that was Hollydwood in the 50's - the film was controversial, a film noir at that and Cinemascope and spectacles had entered the picture and sweeping all the awards then selected by fools enchanted with special effects, color and big screens.
This film is a jewel and it should be given more attention, more credit, and you should see it!!!
The police convince a woman to help them find Skip and the microfilm, and heavy drama ensues. Thelma Ritter is especially good as the informant. Today her acting would be considered over-the-top and unconvincing, but for the time, it was a standout performance. Widmark is excellent as the pickpocket, with his portrayal only rivalled by his work in KISS OF DEATH (also a must-see film noir).
As a landmark film for Widmark and Ritter, as well as for director Samuel Fuller, PICKUP ON SOUTH STREET is a must-see for fans of 1940s cinema and film noir.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Good, solid noir, but not the caliber of film that warrants a second viewing.Published 7 months ago by mqp
great performance of Widmark -as always- but also notable Thelma Ritter & Jean Peters (lovely & beautiful woman). A very enjoyable picture, depicting carefully the N. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Jorge Collazo
Pickup on South Street, 1953 film
People ride a subway car. Men wear hats. The car is crowded. A pickpocket steals a wallet from a woman’s purse. Read more
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