Friday, December 21, 2012

261. Pickup on South Street

Pickup on South Street
Directed by Samuel Fuller

I just watched this movie with my dad.  I have found that it is always more fun to watch a dated movie with someone else.  When you watch it alone, you just kind of roll your eyes and get annoyed.  When you are watching it with someone else, it is quite hilarious.

So basically a woman is transporting a microfilm for communists when her bag is pick pocketed (did I just make up that term?).  Skip McCoy, the thief, discovers what he has and attempts to blackmail the communists.  That is, until a special dame enters his life.

Of course, this is a propaganda film.  This might seem like it would be annoying but it is actually more violent than you would expect, probably because the commies are on the receiving end of the punches.

So you have the annoying woman who gets punched in the face, blackmailed, and yelled at by Skip.  Naturally, she falls in love with him.  What is that??  The feminist in me is having a hard time coping with these early fifties women.  Can't wait for Kill Bill…

There is, however, an outstanding performance by Thelma Ritter as Mo, a snitch for the police that everybody likes.

So overall a fun film, one that is laughable and entertaining at the same time.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

Marilyn Monroe read for the part of Candy but was thought to be too sexy for the role.

Betty Grable was originally going to play the part of Candy but demanded a dance number in the film.  Since that would be…ahem…somewhat out of place, Fuller refused.


  1. I really struggled with how much Candy got beat up in the film. And there was really no reason for her to love him. It was like the "film noir" romance of a man-slapping-a-woman-and-then-they-kiss was condensed and made even more ridiculous!

  2. Continuing the same idea from the other comment.. Yes, so much disturbing stuff in these films at times, especialy the violence and social attitudes to women.....
    The anti commi stuff is a bit heavy handed here .. hey, it's a Sam fuller, waddya expect?.. but another I really like. And as you say.. what a performance.. and role -- from Thelma Ritter.. always worth a place in any film of this type and era.

  3. Yes. I am getting really sick of the sexism and violence toward women in these movies.

  4. Why not a dance number here? That would have been so completely out of conrext that it would have been fun.

  5. I've just watched it in a week where the Harvey Weinstein scandal continues to move up gears, so whilst the violence against women is jarring, it's the scene where he seduces her just by grabbing her and rubbing his hands all over her face even though they're having an argument that's really uncomfortable. Grab 'em by the, ahem, as Donald Trump would put it.

    Putting that and the awful name Skip McCoy aside, it is still a very good movie. And Thelma Ritter's one of those people that you're delighted just to see her name in the opening credits and know she's coming up.

    The Simpsons' comic had a short spin-off series of Radioactive Man comics, where each was a clever spoof of the titular hero at different stages in history. The issue based upon the 50s where he fights the "commies" being particularly good. This film reminding me very much of that. I suppose I have more of it to look forward to on the list?

    1. You definitely do. As a sidenote, I was just reading the Canterbury Tales and one of the male characters grabbed a woman by the "queynte." So the president has the mannerisms of a medieval rapist.