pickup on south street. [another day, another movie: noir #6]

Wee-ow! I am just flying through noir month, and every new movie exceeds my expectations. Why have I waited so long to do this? Good question, Me… we may never know the answer.

Pickup on South Street opens with a man lifting a woman’s wallet out of her purse on a subway train. It begins as a simple pull, but he stole more than he bargained for, and his arrogance lands him in a deadly confrontation with communist spies. Sure, the love story in the film is particularly ridiculous (which by the standards of the 40’s and 50’s is really saying something), but almost everything else is great!

I really enjoyed Sam Fuller’s direction. The way he showcased faces captures how fantastic most of the film’s performances are. The best two performances are Richard Widmark (making his second appearance this month) and Thelma Ritter.

Widmark plays the pickpocket. The character is a huge dick, and is so different than Widmark’s character in Night and the City, yet he disappears into each role wonderfully.

Ritter plays a professional snitch, and offers all the film’s heart. She’s the only character you’d probably want to hang out with, even though she’d try to sell you a cheap tie she claims matches your personality.

Based on the sort of lists the film has been included on, it is delightful but not surprising that Pickup on South Street is another winner.