Pickup (1951)

“She has a good husband, a nice home, a car, no worries about tomorrow — what else does she want?”

Synopsis:
A sexy gold digger (Beverly Michaels) marries a naive widower (Hugo Haas) for his pension money.

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Review:
In his first independently produced American film, Czechoslovakian director Hugo Haas took a fairly standard tale of greed and cuckoldry and turned it into a tawdry, low-budget B-classic. He’s aided in no small part by sexy Beverly Michaels’ performance — while she’s no great actress, her droll sneers and deadpan delivery are perfect here; she never overplays her scenes, instead allowing an air of false insouciance to envelope her every move. Only during a critical moment towards the end of the film — when she must give up control and rely on someone else to carry out her wishes — does she reveal that her nerves may be made of less than steel; watching her fumble to light a cigarette, one realizes just how calm she’s been until then. Haas’s screenplay is overly predictable (particularly the love triangle aspect), and his cuckolded character is too naive to be believed; but the film is redeemed by plenty of zingy dialogue, some creative plot twists (including Haas’s sudden deafness), and Michaels’ sultry allure. Definitely a worthy B-flick.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Beverly Michaels as the conniving femme fatale
    Beverly Michaels
  • Michaels mugging to her friend as she randomly picks up the clueless Haas at a diner
    Pickup
  • Good use of psychosomatic deafness as a plot device
    Deafness
  • Effectively gritty locales
    Locales

Must See?
Yes. This enjoyably pulpy flick epitomizes Hugo Haas’s B-level sensibility.

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One Response to “Pickup (1951)”

  1. First viewing. A once-must, as an interesting B-noir item.

    I wasn’t captivated at its start, but the film gains sufficient momentum and, by the end, satisfies. Giving a sympathetic performance as the lead, Haas also
    works well with a small budget and has guided his cast into supplying effective performances for a film of this type. (Speaking of ‘a film of this type’, I’m glad
    the film’s conclusion works against that type, for a more realistic denouement.)

    This is not an easy film to track down. I searched for it for years and only recently happened upon it on YouTube. But I’m very fond of Haas’ film ‘Lizzie’,
    so I’m more than willing to check out his other work. He applies himself well in independent filmmaking.

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