Pickup on South Street

Subscribe to Richard Widmark alerts

Facts and Figures

Run time: 80 mins

In Theaters: Saturday 1st August 1953

Distributed by: Twentieth Century Fox

Production compaines: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation


Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 88%
Fresh: 22 Rotten: 3

IMDB: 7.8 / 10

Cast & Crew



Starring: Richard Widmark as Skip McCoy, Jean Peters as Candy, Thelma Ritter as Moe Williams, Murvyn Vye as Captain Dan Tiger, Richard Kiley as Joey, Willis Bouchey as Zara, Milburn Stone as Detective Winoki

Pickup on South Street Movie Review

It's probably blasphemy, but I'll say it anyway: Pickup on South Street is simply an unremarkable film noir.

Samuel Fuller, best known for his masterful psycho-ward thriller Shock Corridor, made Pickup because he (per his interview on the new Criterion DVD) wanted to get inside the mind of the pickpocket, show how he lives, and really show the audience what he's all about. That's an admirable goal, and the film's opening scenes -- wherein a seedy-looking Richard Widmark is spied plying his trade on a subway -- give us about all the insight anyone really needs into the pickpocket life.

The story picks up when Widmark's Skip McCoy finds out what he's taken. He boosted a pocketbook from a prostitute, so what is she doing with a microfilm full of spy secrets? What follows is a slip into anti-Commie neo-propaganda, as FBI agents end up on Skip's tail and his pals (including the inimitable Thelma Ritter as a local informant) end up dead.

Zipping along inside of 80 minutes, even the gritty Fuller can't bring this material to life. It borrows heavily from more superior productions -- and Robert Aldritch would make an even campier version of this tale two years later with Kiss Me Deadly. But Pickup on South Street ends up as too far-fetched to take seriously and too frivolous to merit much more of our attention than this.

The story aside, a much larger disappointment is that Pickup lacks the impact of Fuller's better works. There are a few signature touches to be found -- one masterful shot looks up an elevator shaft as light trickles through the cracks -- but these elements are few and far between. They serve to distract us from the remainder of the film, which is shot in traditional noir style, in deep shadow and in frequent close-up. It's hardly a landmark (and it's not bad by any stretch of the imagination), but it's not the masterpiece one expects to get the Criterion treatment (though Fuller's best films are already out on Criterion discs).

If you do purchase the DVD, you'll get a snazzy collection of cinematic history, Fuller-style, including two interviews with Fuller about Pickup on South Street. Trailers, lobby cards, and an exhaustive printed booklet round out the collection.


Subscribe to Richard Widmark alerts


Pickup on South Street Rating

" Weak "


More Richard Widmark

Entourage Trailer

After making a name for themselves in Hollywood, Vincent Chase and his entourage of friends from Queens have finally made a movie. The only problem...

Meghan Trainor - Lips Are Movin [Live] Video

Meghan Trainor performs her latest single 'Lips Are Movin' at one of her favourite places in the world: an aquarium. The song features, alongside smash...

Bastille - Things We Lost In The Fire [Live] Video

Live on the Honda Stage at Music Midtown in Atlanta, Bastille perform 'Things We Lost In The Fire', the final single from their debut album...

Bastille - Oblivion [Live] Video

Bastille perform their single 'Oblivion' live on the Honda Stage at Music Midtown in Atlanta. The track followed Platinum hit 'Of The Night' and featured...


HAERTS - Interview Video

Brooklyn band Haerts released their self-titled debut album this year, and here they talk about how they first got into music, their lifelong friendship and...

Mark Ronson - Daffodils ft. Kevin Parker [Audio] Video

Mark Ronson will finally unveil his fourth album 'Uptown Special' on January 26th 2015 through his new label deal with Sony Music. He has teamed...

HAERTS - Be The One [Live] Video

Haerts perform an intimate live rendition of their song 'Be The One', taken from their self-titled debut album released in October 2014 through Columbia Records....

ScHoolboy Q - Hell Of A Night Video

ScHoolboy Q released his first number one with third album 'Oxymoron', and he now unveils the video to its latest single 'Hell Of A Night'...