Ok, so it’s a cold war commie spy film with a thin plot, a low budget, and an implausible love story.
But against that, I give you a thief for a main character whose non-patriotic persona pissed off J. Edgar Hoover enough to complain to producer Darryl F. Zanuck and director Samuel Fuller. They removed the “FBI” from the advertising, but stood by their product, 1953’s Pickup on South Street, high on my list of great late noir entertainment.
To tempt you further, I give you not only charismatic bad boy Richard Widmark in the lead role, but also Thelma Ritter in an Academy Award-nominated performance as sympathetic police informant and blackmailing tie saleswoman Moe.
And then there’s our tough cookie from the wrong side of the tracks, Candy (Jean Peters). Director Fuller initially turned her down for the role, along with Marilyn Monroe, Shelley Winters, Ava Gardner, and Betty Grable (who insisted on adding a dance number to the film!). Candy helps her ex-boyfriend Joey (Richard Kiley) with some “business secrets” that turn out to be military secrets. Joey is a dirty commie spy!
None of this explains why Skip and Candy go from enemies to lovers, but who cares. It’s a fabulous ride.
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