(FLIX FLING/YouTube) Every film noir nerd has their own definition of what constitutes a ‘noir’ film, and I’m no different. To me, what makes a film ‘noir’ isn’t hard-boiled dialogue, severe chiaroscuro cinematography, or moral detective stories, but that the protagonists are considered deviants or ‘cultural misfits’ and the forward thrust of the noir then focuses on removing them from society. The appeal of noir, at least for me, is in the acknowledgement that there are a subsect of folks that will never mesh with mainstream culture, no matter how hard they try, and they’re almost always eradicated via conviction or death.
PICKUP ON SOUTH STREET, while being an oddity in that it’s ‘spy noir’, embodies that through unruly women, flawed men, and a shit-ton of political chicanery. It’s all about the fringe elements of society, despite (or perhaps, exacerbated by) the fact that it’s framed by an FBI investigation.
It’s worth noting that PICKUP ON SOUTH STREET is getting a proper Criterion release in June!
Full film via YouTube: