Skip McCoy Takes On The Commies

“Pickup On South Street” is a Cold War era film noir which was released initially in 1953.  Samuel Fuller is the screenwriter and director for this 20th Century Fox entry.  The film stars Richard Widmark as master pickpocket Skip McCoy who manages to slip a bit of microfilm of great interest to the FBI from the purse of a woman named Candy, who has a rather dubious history of her own.  Jean Peters, Thelma Ritter, and Richard Kiley are included in the cast.

This film takes the idea of rooting out Communist spies among the most common of New York denizens.  Apparently, this film rubbed J. Edgar Hoover the wrong way due to the FBI not being portrayed in the best light, and McCoy trying to make a buck off the microfilm despite efforts to appeal to his patriotism.  McCoy could probably be considered the more loathsome of protagonist, however he is certainly one of the most interesting.  Thelma Ritter plays some kind of professional confidential informant whose loyalties go with the highest bidder for her information.  She apparently was nominated for an Academy Award that year and deservedly so, in my humble.

The ending seemed a little rushed, however this was a pretty good film overall.  It had some pretty engaging characters with sharp dialogue.  McCoy still manages to be a likeable protagonist if a pretty untrustworthy one.  The relationships between the characters were pretty tense and unpredictable throughout the unfolding of the story.

Samuel Fuller had a pretty immense body of work in Hollywood, but I was not too familiar with him until recently.  I enjoyed “Pickup on South Street” quite a bit, and I am somewhat nonplussed that I had no real familiarity with it until I stumbled across it on TCM.

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