Thelma Ritter's character, her performance, and her lines are top notch. Deserving of her best supporting actress Oscar nomination. Richard Widmark is very good as usual from a bad guy turning into a good guy. My second Sam Fuller film (after "40 Guns") and both films were better than the usual stuff from Hollywood. One of Scorsese's favourite films.
Doing a little Googling here and discover the chilling fact that Samuel Fuller's epochal PICKUP ON SOUTH STREET was well into its staggered market-to-market release when Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed, arriving in New York TWO DAYS before said event. Pretty hard to deny that this speaks queasily to dead-eyed premeditation. And no wonder the movie made Hoover so uptight! Hot topic is the way that we rhyme.
As New Yawk as it gets. I love that in all of these movies, the adults behave like adults - they smoke nonstop, they drink cold beers from the harbour and they don't betray their friends. Everyone was great in this but of course, Thelma Ritter steals the show again.You know its a Sam Fuller movie when the male lead punches a woman out cold in his oceanside shack.
What I love about Samuel Fuller is how he seems to be saying "Yeah, I'm biased and preachy so what? Fck you!" It's another cautionary tale about what happened when you wandered away from the family-centered capitalism of the 1950s, but... maybe subtlety is overrated or maybe it did get me to believe there is a magic face rubbing that makes pretty girls fall in love with dirt poor pickpockets... idk, but I liked it.
Despite Samuel Fuller's justified reputation as a subversive and unconventional film director, there's nothing really to distinguish Pickup on South Street from other ordinary film noir. Everything feels a little familiar and the ending is surprisingly flat. Still worth a watch though, if only to enjoy typically charismatic performances on the part of both Richard Widmark and All About Eve's Thelma Ritter.
Try and think of an average Richard Widmark performance. No, me neither. Samuel Fuller's paranoia tinged noir does the smart trick of turning his smartarse pickpocket into the hero of the piece, and no one could better at pulling it off than Widmark. Thelma Ritter's stoolie almost steals the show, but only almost. Excellent.