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Showing 1-10 of 26 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 81 reviews
on August 13, 2017
Very enjoyable. Nice black & white photography, all filmed in a studio setting but done very well. The dialogue is dated and quite often trite but the performances by Widmark and Thelma Ritter are very good and the movie comes together quite well over all.
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on June 9, 2017
I Purely Bought This BD/ Dvd Edition For The Late Great Thelma Ritter.
I Just Adore Her Acting.
Richard Widmark's Acting Is Just Fab, Really Loved Him In Don't Bother To Knock.
I'll Enjoy This Film For Many Years To Follow
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on January 27, 2005
I saw that someone categorized this as a mystery, and after watching Pickup on South Street (1953) last night, and I wondered if we saw the same film. I certainly wouldn't classify this as a mystery but a hard-boiled (just like I like my eggs) thriller/caper populated by interesting characters caught up in a situations beyond their control. Well, as my sweet, old Gammy always said, opinions are like fecal orifices, in everyone has one (technically, fecal orifices wasn't the exact term she would use, but common decency and review guidelines prevent me from printing what she would use). Written and directed by the legendary Hollywood curmudgeon Samuel Fuller (I feel comfortable enough calling him a legend since his passing in '97), the film stars Richard Widmark (Halls of Montezuma) and Jean Peters (Viva Zapata!), who was once married to famously nutty billionaire recluse Howard Hughes. Also appearing is Thelma Ritter (Rear Window, Pillow Talk), Murvyn Vye (A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court), Richard Kiley (Blackboard Jungle), and Willis Bouchey (The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Panic in Year Zero!).

Widmark plays Skip McCoy, a pickpocket (or cannon, as referred to in the film) and a three-time loser (meaning he was convicted and sent over three times, with a fourth conviction translating into life in prison) whose troubles began the day he picked the wrong pocket book on a crowded subway, one belonging to a comely muffin (seriously, the men kept calling her this in the film) named Candy (Peters). Seems Candy was enlisted by her ex-boyfriend Joey (Kiley) to deliver an envelope containing top-secret information (she was unaware of the contents of the envelope), and was being trailed by federal agents, interested in busting up a ring of suspect Reds (the Red Menace was everywhere in the 50's). Soon everyone wants Skip, including Candy (at least before she found out she was an unwitting dupe of the Reds), the bulls (that's cops to you and me), the feds, and the Reds...noticing all kinds of interest being developed in his relatively petty theft, Skip finally gets wise to what he has, and sees visions of a score of a lifetime, treading the line between two-bit hustler and vile, traitorous slime, that is if he can only keep from getting pinched by the cops or being killed by the Communists...

Of all the `noir' films I've seen (surprisingly not as many as one may think), Pickup on South Street rates very high (it's also my first Fuller film). The story is kept lean and mean, allowing for very little, if any, extraneous material to clutter up the proceedings. The pacing is brisk (the film has a running time of 80 minutes), and rarely lets up. All of the performances worked, but I especially liked Widmark, as he really brought his character to life, that of a slick, scheming, slightly misogynistic two-bit grifter looking at all the angles, trying to stay one step ahead of the law (and the commies). I know Skip was a criminal, and an extremely smarmy one at that, but I couldn't help liking him, as despite his seemingly noxious exterior, at his core he possessed some inherit, humanizing qualities that many of us strive for (specifically the scene where he made arrangements for Moe the stool pigeon, played by Thelma Ritter, even despite the knowledge that she was the one that fingered him, in a roundabout way, to the cops). But then this was buffeted by his apparent willingness not to be swayed by the patriotic meanderings of the law enforcement officials, his interest lying in his own potential gains, "So you're a Red, who cares? Your money's as good as anybody else's."...a complicated character, for sure. I also thought Thelma Ritter was wonderful, especially the scene where her character relates her deteriorating physical state to Candy's ex-boyfriend, as he searches for Skip. I could feel the extremity of her state, and understand her motivations of earning enough to die properly (she was deathly afraid of dying poor and having the state bury her in potter's field, a place the state interred those unknown or indigent peoples). The slang vernacular utilized by many of the characters in the film felt very natural, and presented me with the notion of not so much watching a movie but witnessing events as they transpired in a reality outside of my own (okay, okay, the whole microfilm/commie angle may seem a little jive, but required only a meager suspension of my disbelief as the movie was just so damn good). One thing I really noticed about this film was the usage of minimal sets (often confined to small rooms), along with peculiar and odd angles for various shots...extreme close ups, high and away, slightly skewed...I think the unconventional nature of said shots within the tight, limited spaces really served well to add to the atmosphere of the film, and tweak the tension inherit within the story, leading up to a violent and brutal all out brawl between Skip the Pickpocket and a member of the Order of the Profusely Sweaty (seriously, if you've seen the film, you know who I'm talking about...that guy was in a perpetual state of perspiration).

The full screen (original aspect ratio 1:33.1) picture on this Criterion release looks beautiful, and the sound comes through crisp and clean (the case indicates both were restored). Criterion editions may cost a bit more, but I've never felt I wasn't getting my money's worth, and here is no different. Along with providing a superior print, there are literally scads of extras, including a 20-minute interview piece with writer director Sam Fuller, excerpts from Cinema Cinemas series, an illustrated biographical essay on Fuller, a complete Fuller poster filmography, theatrical trailers for 8 Fuller films, an informative 20-page booklet, and stills gallery of photos, lobby cards, and original paintings by artist Russell Christian.

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on August 29, 2017
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on May 23, 2001
I saw this film long ago on television in my country, under the title of "El rata" (The rat) and, again, a couple of years ago in Paris under the absurd title of "Le port de la drogue" (The port of drugs). Now I have the video and see it every now and then. It is a very well elaborated movie typical of the pre-cold war times in the USA: the anti-communist paranoia, etcetera, along with a love story and, indeed, detectives, though guys and other fantasticaly well combined elements. The work of the Director is great, as well as the perfomances by Widmark and Jean Peters, extremely beautiful. Also, Thelma Ritter was awarded with an Oscar for the second feminine role. This is a must-see by all means and apart from the merits mentioned above, I recomend the superb music and, very particularly, the dialogue between Candy and Lightning Louie at the Chinese restaurant, unforgetable. Buyers will enjoy it very much.
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on September 5, 2005
Idiosyncratic director Sam Fuller's most successful film is prime noir, with priceless tough guy patter emanating from the scummy Skip, and also featuring a sultry femme fatale turn from Peters. On-location shooting in lower Manhattan adds an authentic feel, and the premise itself is a cut above most standard crime stories: beyond the espionage yarn, the audience yearns to know whether Skip, a man with no conscience, can develop one under extraordinary circumstances. Widmark is aces, as is Thelma Ritter playing Jo, a veteran stoolie. Noir fans should pounce.
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on October 18, 2016
Great film!
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on April 29, 2002
We know Widmark will be tough before the film even starts but the surprise is watching Peters who is tough, smart and terrific. The first scene has no dialog as we just take in Peters and Widmark up against each other on a packed train car. And it gets better with the first kiss in the shack. As an earlier reviewer wrote, the writing is superior- I loved everything except the last line where Candy and Skip leave the police station. Thelma Ritter is a bonus.
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on March 27, 2012
I first saw this movie on tv sometime in the 1970's. I'd previously seen several Sam Fuller films, MERRILL'S MAURADERS in the theater; STEEL HELMET, FIXED BAYONETS, BARON OF ARIZONA and 40 GUNS on tv. I liked them all, very much. So when the magazines FILM COMMENT and SIGHT AND SOUND began running articles on "Film Noir" at this time I started scanning the TV GUIDE for such films, catching D.O.A., THE BIG COMBO, and, of course, PICKUP ON SOUTH STREET.

Now maybe my hopes were too high based on my viewing of past Sam Fuller films but, hyped up as I was, I found this film to be somewhat average, better than most, but nothing really great. I thought the "commie" stuff rather dated. I thought this a lesser Fuller film and filed it away in the backlog of my memory.

Flash forward into the 2000's. Film Noir has gained a reputation and lots of attention. It has a big following and many films of the "genre?" are seeing pristine dvd releases. I've been buying them up and enjoying them, bathing in the fatalism that reflects my own life...and yet, always putting off the CRITERION dvd of PICKUP ON SOUTH STREET. After all, I've seen it before and know it's some dated commie movie of no great shakes.
Then the local BORDERS announced that it was closing it's doors and I went in and couldn't leave PICKUP ON SOUTH STREET on the shelf at 60% off. So I bought it, took it home and let it sit in a stack for months. Then I got the Film Noir urge, and what the heck, popped it into the dvd player...

It was like I had never seen this film before! The image was so crystal clear with such great depth range! Better than it probably appeared in theaters. I sat rivited. I was mesmerized. This was indeed Sam Fuller's greatest film. Widmark was in top form, matching NIGHT AND THE CITY. Thelma Ritter should have won an Oscar. The film should have won several Oscars. Everything was flawless; direction, acting, cinematography, music score.
What happened?
Was this the same film that I saw on tv 40 years ago?
Back then I saw something a little above average.
Today I saw a visionary work of art.
Maybe I've changed, but most of what I liked or disliked 40 years ago pretty much holds true today, and yet...
Maybe it's CRITERION's flawless print of this film that has me seeing this film really for the first time ever, seeing it as it was meant to be seen and experienced.
...all in all, this is the perfect example of a truly talented director taking pulp fiction material and turning it into a work of art.

All I can say in conclusion is that this CRITERION dvd presentation looks better than the day the film was released. If you've seen this noir classic in the distant past then you've never really seen it at all. Buy this dvd and experience PICKUP ON SOUTH STREET again, for the first time ever...

Super-Highly recommended!
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on December 16, 2012
A host of tremendous performances, a perfectly sensual film noir plot, direction that zeros on faces both ugly and (via Jean Peters and her pouty lips) beautiful. Fellini would have loved it.
Nice packaging, great cover. Delivered right on time by the seller in great condition.
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