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Pick up on South Street - Analysis

Essay by   •  June 23, 2011  •  Case Study  •  360 Words (2 Pages)  •  1,634 Views

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Pick Up on South Street is filled with that old time Hollywood glamour. The main female character is shown dressed in beautiful clothes and dramatic makeup. The men are always shown dressed in impeccable suits. Even the pickpocket Skip who lives in an abandoned bait shack built on shaky piles out on the East River is always shown wearing a dress suit. It's hard to imagine in this day and age that a person who lives in a shack that doesn't even have a place to bath would have such a nice pair of dress clothes.

The plot of Samuel Fuller's Pick Up on South Street is unmistakably an echo of the extreme paranoia Americans held for communism during the 1950s. The film is riddled with low-life common petty criminals yet the film holds these characters in a better light because any person who chooses communism is the lowest of the low. Within the span of the film it's possible for these pickpockets and informers can become heroes but enemies of capitalism are forever doomed. Even the film's most lively character Moe, who will sell any sort of information to anyone including cops, draws the line and refuses to help anyone who is a communist no matter how high the price. The film's message is strong: even a pickpocket is better for society than a Red. Candy even justifies all Skip's previous bad behavior by telling Skip, "I'd rather have a live pickpocket, than a dead traitor". What is of interest to note is that all characters uniformly reject the "commies" even though it is well established non of them actually don't really know anything about communists or what they stand for except of course that they are the enemy.

In what should be an inconsequential story, Sam Fuller defines his peculiar view of Americanism from the bottom up: stiff-necked, aggressive self-interest that when fully expressed recognizes what's wrong and what's right and isn't afraid to fight for it. As always in his work, the individuals who fight the hardest for their country are the ones most likely to benefit from the effort.



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