Pickup on South Street

Watch Pickup on South Street

"How the law took a chance on a B-girl … and won!"
  • NR
  • 1953
  • 1 hr 20 min
  • 7.6  (15,981)

Pickup on South Street is a 1953 noir thriller directed by Samuel Fuller that tells the story of a pickpocket named Skip McCoy (Richard Widmark). Skip is a small-time criminal who lives in New York City and preys on unsuspecting commuters on the subway. One day, he picks the pocket of an attractive woman named Candy (Jean Peters) and discovers that she has a microfilm hidden in her purse. Unaware of the nature of the microfilm, Skip puts himself in the middle of a dangerous game of espionage and counterespionage, as both the FBI and a network of communist spies are after the valuable piece of information.

Despite his criminal nature, Skip has his own moral code and refuses to hand over the microfilm to the authorities, even when he is offered a meager sum of money for it. Instead, he decides to sell it to the highest bidder, hoping to make a fortune and retire from his life of crime. However, his plans are thwarted by Candy who becomes entangled with him and the communist spies. Thus begins a thrilling cat-and-mouse chase across the city as Skip tries to elude the FBI agents while trying to figure out who the real bad guys are and what the microfilm actually contains.

The movie is an excellent example of film noir, a genre popular in the 1940s and 1950s that combined elements of crime, drama, and dark cinematography. The film's gloomy atmosphere is enhanced by the black and white photography, often depicting the seedy underbelly of New York City with its dingy alleyways and dimly lit bars. Additionally, the use of shadows and close-ups creates a sense of tension and claustrophobia, as the characters are constantly being watched and followed.

The three main actors give memorable performances, especially Richard Widmark as Skip, who exudes a charismatic bad boy persona. His rough exterior hides a soft spot for Candy, that becomes more and more evident as the plot develops. Jean Peters, on the other hand, plays the archetypal femme fatale, or "bad girl," who is at the same time alluring and dangerous. Her character is complex and nuanced, as she struggles with her loyalty to her communist handlers and her feelings for Skip. Thelma Ritter rounds out the cast with her portrayal of a streetwise informant who provides the comic relief amidst the tension of the plot.

Apart from its stylish cinematography and strong performances, Pickup on South Street also contains political undertones that reflect the ideological tensions of the Cold War era. The plot revolves around a microfilm that contains information about a secret spy ring, and the FBI agents are determined to retrieve it to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands. On the other hand, the communist spies are willing to do whatever it takes to get their hands on the microfilm and use it for their own ends. Without being overly didactic, the movie manages to convey a clear message about the dangers of espionage and the need for vigilance in the face of foreign threats.

Overall, Pickup on South Street is a timeless classic that combines thrilling suspense with stylish cinematography and excellent performances. It is an excellent example of the film noir genre and a must-see for fans of classic cinema.

Pickup on South Street is a 1953 crime movie with a runtime of 1 hour and 20 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.6.

Pickup on South Street
Where to Watch Pickup on South Street
Pickup on South Street is available to watch free on Plex. It's also available to stream, download on demand at FlixFling. Some platforms allow you to rent Pickup on South Street for a limited time or purchase the movie and download it to your device.
  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 20 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    7.6  (15,981)