Pickup on South Street (1953) is a film noir directed by Samuel Fuller. The film stars Richard Widmark, Jean Peters and Thelma Ritter.
Richard Widmark plays Skip McCoy, a pickpocket who steals Candy's (Jean Peters)wallet. Candy is a delivery girl for Joey (Richard Kiley) who is communist agent. Candy's wallet contained a microfilm of top-secret government information. This sets off a frantic search for McCoy and the microfilm by the police and the communists.
Richard Widmark is at his best as smart alec pick pocket Skip McCoy. McCoy is a three time convicted criminal that Captain Dan Tiger (Murvyn Vye) would love to bust one more time and send him away for life. McCoy views the police as his moral equals but intellectual inferiors. McCoy taunts them: "Go on, drum up a charge. Throw me in. You've done it before."
Jean Peters is beautiful and engaging as Candy, the girl from the streets with the golden heart. Candy is unaware that she is a delivery girl for the communists. She knows she is in some shady dealings but has no idea the extent of those dealings.
Murvyn Vye as Captain Dan Tiger is the police officer everyone dislikes. He is more driven by sending Skip McCoy up the river one more time than recovering the government secrets contained in the microfilm. Captain Tiger is more than willing to pay informants for information.
Thelma Ritter is the heart of this movie and steals this movie. She was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
Thelma Ritter plays Moe Wiliams, a weary street peddler selling neck ties who also sells information to both the police and anyone willing to pay (but not the communists). Moe has one goal in life, to save enough money for a fancy funeral and proper burial. Her final scene is one of the most touching performances you will ever find in a movie.
Sam Fuller's directing of this film is incredible.
For example, when Candy (Jean Peters) starts going through her purse and notices her wallet is missing, an alarm goes off in the background in the building she's in, as if it's an alarm going off in her head.
Sam Fuller also captures the personality of New York City. The crowded subway and people scurring through the subway and the streets. As the characters move and interact, they are framed in living force that New York City is.
Pickup on South Street is film noir at its best in which the characters drive the plot.