Tonight's showing in my personal film noir film festival was Sam Fuller's PICKUP ON SOUTH STREET starring Richard Widmark as a two-bit pick-pocket who lifts a billfold from a lady's purse on the subway. The billfold contains a stolen film-strip containing a top secret government formula that the woman was unknowingly delivering to the Commies for her ex-boyfriend, a Red spy. It's a silly plot device in what is otherwise a down and dirty crime movie. The high point of the film is an amazing performance by Thelma Ritter as an aging street peddler of neckties and information. Ritter is funny, touching, and genuinely moving…and once she is gone, the movie loses much of its edge and its heart. Even so, I really enjoyed it.
7 thoughts on “Pick Up on South Street”
There are few films that Thelma Ritter was in where she was not at least arguably the best part. Sometimes I think it’s a shame that she didn’t hit the screen until she was 2/3s of the way through her life; other times, I’m glad that she didn’t try to make it in Hollywood when she was younger, because she probably was never screen-pretty, and thus would not have lasted long.
This isn’t on topic, but it may be of interest. “The Globe and Mail” which is the most authoritative Canadian newspaper, sort of like “The NY Times” has published their list of the “best, most influential, most buzz” foreign novels of the year. Among American books that made the list are: “Homer and Langley” by E.L. Doctorow; “Nine Dragons” by Michael Connelly; and “Under The Dome” by Stephen King. So far no TV tie-ins have made the list but that could change!
Interesting coincidence: “Pickup” is namechecked in “West Coast Blues,” a graphic novel by French artist Jacques Tardi, based on a noir novel by Jean-Patrick Manchette, that was recently released by Fantagraphics. (I’m writing a review of it, and looked up the movie to see why the protag’s family made a point to watch it.)
What bugged me, Dan, was that the Globe’s 100 best books of the year, published this week, included precisely one crime novel, Connelly’s Nine Dragons. The rest was populated by the usual suspects.
True, Howard, it’s basically a Conservative/Republican pubication and very traditional. Connelly, by the way, also received a very respectful review in the “Toronto Star”, which used to have a reputation for being overly critical of new books.
You should see what the Star wrote about my new book, High Chicago. “More than not bad” was the best quote in it!
Howard, I tried to look up the review at the Star site but it didn’t come up. But I’m not surprised. You can’t take anything they say seriously. They don’t seem to like new books or authors who are early in their career. The respectful review that Michael Connelly received floored me because they just don’t do that.
But I looked up your book on Amazon.ca and you have one 5 star review. So I’ve put a hold request on “High Chicago” at the public library (they have 2 copies and a third on order) and after I read your book, I’ll post a review on Amazon. Maybe that will help!