Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Pickup on South Street (1953)


Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Pickup on South Street (1953)

In Sam Fuller's great action-packed, raw, hard-boiled, Cold War-era, crime-noir thriller:

  • the opening scene on a crowded New York subway during rush-hour, where tough-minded ex-con pickpocket Skip McCoy (Richard Widmark) edged flirtatiously close to femme fatale prostitute Candy (Jean Peters) to make her his latest petty-theft robbery victim - he stole/fingered (symbolically filmed like a violating rape) sensitive government microfilm in an envelope (bound for Communist spies with her as the unsuspecting courier) from her opened purse as two other FBI agents conducting surveillance looked on helplessly - he didn't realize he had inadvertently obtained stolen US microfilm to be smuggled out of the country by Communist spies; unbeknownst to her, her shady ex-boyfriend Joey (Richard Kiley), who had asked for a favor to deliver an envelope with the microfilm, was working for the Communists
  • after McCoy realized he had stolen microfilm, he hid it (knowing it would be worth alot in exchange); after he was identified as a possible suspect by stool-pigeon police informant Moe Williams (Oscar-nominated Thelma Ritter), he was brought in and questioned, but professed his innocence to the authorities who pressured him with patriotic appeals: "If you refuse to cooperate, you'll be as guilty as the traitors that gave Stalin the A-bomb"; he retorted: "Are you wavin' the flag at me?"
Moe Williams (Thelma Ritter) Acting as Police Informant
- "If you refuse to cooperate, you'll be as guilty as the traitors that gave Stalin the A-bomb"
- "Are you wavin' the flag at me?"
  • the night-time sequence at Skip's run-down waterfront shack hideout where he found Candy searching his possessions (after she was directed there by Moe for $50 bucks); he punched Candy unconscious and then searched her purse before reviving her; when she came to, he asked: "Wanna beer?"; she responded: "I want my wallet"; he lovingly rubbed her sore jaw for a few moments and then after a few kisses, remarked: "You look for oil, sometimes you hit a gusher"
Lovingly Rubbing Her Sore Jaw and After Kisses:
"You look for oil, sometimes you hit a gusher"
  • the two developed a sweaty, rough and tumble, sado-masochistic love relationship during her second visit; after hot kissing and an embrace, he stole $500 from her purse, pushed her away and demanded a huge payment in exchange for the prized microfilm: "You tell that Commie I want a big score for that film, and I want it in cash, tonight....Come on. Drop the act. So you're a Red. Who cares? Your money's as good as anybody else's...I know what you're after. I know what it's worth...I'll do business with a Red, but I don't have to believe one (he slapped her)....Get out of here! Now tell your old lady I'm shakin' down you Reds for 25 grand"
  • the death scene of embittered, elderly, world-weary, necktie-seller and information street peddler Moe Williams, who had always wanted to make enough money to avoid being buried in Potter's Field; in her dingy rooming house, she told Commie hitman-killer Joey that she wouldn't reveal Skip's whereabouts, and would face the consequences: "So I don't get to have the fancy funeral after all. Anyway, I tried. Look, Mister, I'm so tired you'd be doin' me a big favor if you'd blow my head off"; the camera panned to the left and a gunshot was heard - with the final image of her bedside Victrola's needle reaching the end of the 78 rpm record (the popular French tune "Mam'zelle")
Death of Informant Moe Williams
"'d be doin' me a big favor if you'd blow my head off"
Skip Reclaiming Moe's Body From Tugboat
  • in the subsequent scene, Skip reclaimed Moe's body from a tugboat (taking her in coffin # 11 to Potter's Field) in order to give her a proper burial ("I'm gonna bury her") - fulfilling her sole wish in life
  • the remarkable scene in which Candy (wearing a white robe with a hood) was brutally knocked around her apartment by Joey for not telling him Skip's address - the commotion broke lamps, picture frames and tables - before she was shot and seriously wounded
  • the scene of Skip's hospital visit to see the bruised Candy, when he realized that Candy really loved him because she wouldn't tell Joey where he lived, and she also admitted: "I'm sorry I spoiled your big score. I know it sounds corny to you, but I'd rather have a live pickpocket than a dead traitor"
  • the thrillingly violent subway chase scene, when Skip retaliated against Joey - beat him mercilessly in the subway (next to the tracks), then turned him over to authorities
  • in the ending, set in the police station, Skip vowed to resume his relationship with Candy and they left to start a new life together; he turned to Candy and told her: "Honey, you look as good as new. Did you miss me, muffin? Come on. Let's get outta here"; as they departed from the office, Police Captain Dan Tiger (Murvyn Vye) predicted that Skip would soon be apprehended again: (Tiger: "You'll always be a two-bit purse snatcher. I give you 30 days before I pick ya up with your hand in somebody else's pocket"), but Candy disagreed: "You wanna bet?"

Opening Crowded Subway Pickpocket Sequence

Candy with Ex-Boyfriend Joey - a Communist Spy

Candy Knocked Unconscious and Then Revived at Skip's Shack Hideout

Sado-Masochistic Love Affair

Hospital Visit

Skip Beating Up Joey During Subway Station Scene

Skip Reconciled with Candy


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