Pickup on South Street – dir. Samuel Fuller – 1953
Samuel Fuller didn’t fool around; he was not out to prettify film and once said being restricted to little or no budget was a blessing: “The cheaper the budget, the grittier the film”. And boy, are his films gritty! From the start of his career, Fuller fine-tuned a technique that was taut and raw, a bald tire style that makes you think everything and everyone in his films is going to explode at any moment. He did not embrace and had no patience for the lush, velour shades of a Lubitsch or a Capra; he didn’t give a damn if his pictures fell easily on the eye. He was concerned that they depict accurately that slice of the world he grew up in and knew, a world where you could as easily be kissed as killed,where one minute, you are being romanced by a handsome thug and being rubbed out by him like a half-smoked cigarette the next. Fuller celebrated low-life and the denizens of New York the way children celebrate birthdays — with noisemakers, pop guns and glee, and he made no apologies for accusations that he glorified crime – being Sam Fuller meant never having to say you’re sorry. His films were not blockbusters in their day; Time has turned them into lasting gems for now we see the honest tales they told; time capsule artifacts of a period in our history that truly was unique.