June 06, 2004

my movie night was delayed, again, so i ended up only watching one film (god those Criterion discs, even when including only a handful of extras, take time to go through, don't they?

Pickup on South Street by Samuel Fuller, 1953 ; the Criterion Collection

a pulpy film noir tale about a convicted pickpocket who steals from the wrong person. this was my first Sam Fuller film. i'd heard a lot about him since Criterion released this film, his third on the label. even though it looks like a caper with some '50s-type music playing under most of the scenes, this film is set apart from its contemporaries is Sam Fuller. at first glance, i didn't find much of anything original about the film other than the lead performances (especially Richard Widmark as the pickpocket and Thelma Ritter as Moe; Widmark brings some redeeming quality to the role without romanticizing it. he's the leading man in this film but he's still a petty criminal and he's not asking you to care for him). i liked that Fuller doesn't make us feel sorry for these characters or use corny tricks in order to gain our trust. these people are who they are and that's that. Fuller also knows how to use a camera. check out the opening sequence to see how agile a camera could be, even in the '50s, and the beautiful shadow work accomplished in the shack scenes at night. but the Criterion disc also has a fascinating interview with the still-colorful Fuller (defintiely a character all his own) and one mean and extensive essay by Jeb Brody on Fuller that made me understand the rawness of the film's director and by extension, of this film. it's a conventional film noir, but, the main characters are petty thieves and there's a raw, vivid energy boiling beneath the surface. i have a feeling Fuller expressed it more and more as time wore on. this is one fascinating find for me. and this disc is definitely a must-rent.

Posted by Sam | 9:07 PM |