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Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Pickup On South Street (1953)

A petty pickpocket (Richard Widmark) picks the purse of an unsuspecting tart (Jean Peters). What he doesn't realize is that he's just stolen a strip of microfilm bearing confidential government secrets that were on their way to communist agents. Suddenly, he finds himself in the middle of a gambit between the FBI and the reds and he plans to profit from it. Directed by Samuel Fuller, this is a terrific and tight film noir with a set of colorful protagonists, all part of the criminal underworld in some way or another. You can tell Fuller loves these characters and doesn't judge their morality (or lack of it). And what performances! Widmark gives a tough and unsentimental performance, you can't help but like him even if he is a weasel. Jean Peters and Thelma Ritter as a police informant have never been better. Ritter goes easy on the comic wisecracks and gets a chance to show her acting chops as a scrappy hustler living to pay for her funeral. For its day, the film is shockingly brutal. The movie features a kinetic score by Leigh Harline. With Richard Kiley (very good), Murvyn Vye, Willis Bouchey and Parley Baer.


  1. Great review. I'm not really a Sam Fuller fan, its too bad he couldn't put his ego on hold, and get a decent budget and a good co-writer. But he hits this out of the ballpark. Loved that Ritter does some serious acting. And Widmark always amazes me. Widmark could play the handsome lead, but he had a genius for playing "weasels" who seem physically *smaller* then he actually was. I can imagine Bogart beating the crap out of him, but widmark was actually 2 inches taller!

    1. I'm a huge Widmark fan! Such a talent. Outside of Saint Joan (1957) in which he was miscast, I don't think I've ever seen him give a bad performance.