Pickup on South Street (1953)

“Pickup on South Street” (1953)

IMDb

floating narrative

This is not groundbreaking and it will not change you in any fundamental way. But it is deeply noir, and that is something always worth seeing.

We have a story centered on a character who is, among every character, the one who knows less about what’s going on. He is the only one totally outside the juicy plot he gets sucked into, and yet the only one that everybody (police and communists) believe to be in control of everything. Everything happens to him, he fights to control the events, but ends up being swept by them.

Notice this: he literally gets into the story by randomly picking a girls’ pocket, and steeling some very important film. He doesn’t have a clue about the importance and value of what he has, and acts accordingly. In the meanwhile he tries to outplay both the police and the communists, using the girl as his arrow girl, as a shield. He ends up loosing control both of the story (but not quite), as he falls in love with the girl. So here we have a cute sense of chaos in the story, agitated narrative where we find ourselves lost, as much as our surrogate detective, in this case the pickpocket.

Fuller has a great sense of pace and mood, and this film has a very special extra thing: the floating shack where many of the fundamental twists in the narrative happen. That is one great set that I will have with me for a long time. As an explored space it is good enough, in studio context. As a metaphor for the unstable mood of the whole narrative it works fine. In the end, this space becomes the odd center of the bizarre noir world of the film, and to root a film so strongly in a place is something I always appreciate.

My opinion: 4/5

This comment on IMDb

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