Pickup on South Street Blu-ray

Monday, 17 August 2015 23:00 Written by 

Pickup On South Street - out now on dual format Blu-ray and DVDRichard Widmark ("The Alamo", "Coma") plays a steely, reclusive pickpocket in this classic film noir from director Samuel Fuller ("White Dog", "Fixed Bayonets!"). Skip McCoy (Widmark) steals a glamorous woman's purse on a subway train, little knowing the ton of heat it will bring down on him. The purse contains stolen military microfilm divulging a top secret chemical formula, and the FBI want it back.

The woman called Candy (Jean Peters - "Viva Zapata!", "Niagara") is also unaware of the material's nature and its importance to both the government and the Communists she was supposed to deliver it to. Desperate to appease her associate and retrieve the film, Candy faces a race against time before Skip finds a buyer, the police close in, or worse still the 'Reds' forcefully take matters into their own hands.

"Pickup on South Street" is a tightly-woven and very gripping movie. It may be shot in black and white, but the ambiguous characters are anything but. Take Skip, a cold-hearted man who delights in his ability to thieve from others right under their noses, but who reveals more layers as the film progresses and his involvement with Candy becomes more complicated.

Police Captain Dan Tiger (Murvyn Vye - "Road to Bali") has a bitter history with Skip, but even he realises he might have to bury his desire to put the thief behind bars for good, for the sake of national security.

The most human personality in the film is Moe Williams (Thelma Ritter - "Rear Window", "Birdman of Alcatraz"), an aging street informer with a sideline in “personality neckwear” (ties). Burnt out and poor, Moe's one goal in the life she has left is to raise enough money to pay for a proper funeral and burial, rather than be consigned to a mass grave for the impoverished.

Fuller's direction keeps us close to the characters, drawing us into their grimy underworld. It is difficult to know which side to root for when the momentum and focus keep nudging our sympathies.

There are only a few action scenes but they pack a serious punch, including a couple of rough and raw fights. The stakes are high and the violence is very real. What starts out as just another stolen purse threatens to escalate into terrible tragedy.

Special features include:

  • New 1080p presentation of the film on the Blu-ray
  • Interview with Kent Jones (32 mins)
  • Interview with François Guérif (24 mins)
  • Samuel Fuller discusses key scenes (12 mins)
  • Original Theatrical Trailer
  • Booklet featuring writings by Samuel Fuller, archival interviews, and more

The Fuller featurette provides some interesting details on the lengths the director went to get convincing, replica subway station sets built. He comes across as a very forthright person, chomping on a massive cigar. The Blu-ray version is very sharp, albeit with a little bit of visual speckling.

"Pickup on South Street" (1953) is out now on dual-format DVD and Blu-ray (two discs), courtesy of Eureka. The main feature has a running time of 80 minutes approx, carries a 'PG' certificate and retails for £19.99, or less from www.culttvstore.com

 

Last modified on Wednesday, 19 August 2015 16:43

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