Pickup on South Street

Screening on Film
Directed by Samuel Fuller.
With Richard Widmark, Jean Peters, Thelma Ritter.
US, 1953, 35mm, black & white, 80 min.

The iconoclastic American writer and director Sam Fuller specialized in low-budget genre pictures that aspired to topicality, but always with a visceral appeal. This controversial thriller was dismissed by many critics at the time as an anti-Communist, McCarthyist tract but is now admired for its gritty style, ironic subversiveness, and vivid portrait of New York’s underside in the 1950s. Pickup on South Street recounts the story of a pickpocket (Widmark) who inadvertently obtains a top-secret microfilm when he lifts a wallet from a pretty girl (Peters). Ultimately, the two fall in love and expose the spy ring. Thelma Ritter is superb in the role of a Bowery denizen whose rejoinder "What do I know about Commies? Nothing. I just don’t like them" captures the irrepressible moxie of this "desperate kind of masterpiece."


  • Psychomontage

    Directed by Eberhard and Phyllis Kronhausen.
    US, 1962, 16mm, black & white, 10 min.
    Print source: HFA

The Kronhausens, a Paris-based team of psychotherapists, produced a series of books as well as several films to present the findings of their exploration of human sexuality. Their Psychomontage offers a provocative and funny look at the erotic in everyday life.

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Treasures from the Harvard Film Archive: N–R