My Review of ‘Pickup on South Street’ (1953)


This movie was made toward the end of film noir’s glory years, when Hollywood movies started reflecting more paranoia about the Red Menace. It manages to combine both the shadowy and gritty aspects of film noir with the threat of communist subversion.


The fun and games begin when a petty thief named Skip McCoy (played sneeringly by Richard Widmark) lifts a woman’s wallet on the subway. The woman, Candy (played by Jean Peters), is delivering what she thinks is confidential business information to her ex-boyfriend, Joey (Richard Kiley). Little do Skip or Candy know that she was actually taking microfilm of top-secret information to Joey, who’s actually a Commie spy.


Nor do they know that Candy is being watched by the government. So the spying Fed seeks police help in finding the thief who took the secret information. With the (bought and paid for) help of informant Moe Williams (a dour Thelma Ritter), the cops get eight names of possible suspects. The Fed recognizes Skip from a mug shot. A lead that gets him nowhere, despite his appeals to Skip’s nonexistent patriotism.

Are you waving the flag at *me*?

Are you waving the flag at *me*?

Well, if the Feds can’t get the microfilm, you know the Commies are going to go for it. And that’s where shit really hits the fan. Especially for poor Moe.

Poor Moe!

Poor Moe!

The movie is an interesting mishmash of film noir, love story, and anti-Communist rhetoric. Much like Where the Sidewalk Ends, it concludes with a vaguely uplifting promise of a happy ending. So, score one for the lucky couple and zero for the Commies.

And they lived happily ever after ...?

And they lived happily ever after …?

A worthy addition to a film noir fan’s watch list, I’d give the movie at least one thumbs up! 🙂



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4 Responses to My Review of ‘Pickup on South Street’ (1953)

  1. While the Cold War spy element is awful, I love the leads and the ending.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have not seen this one. Thanks for submitting to The Classic Movie link party. I appreciate it.

    Liked by 1 person

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