Pickup (film)

Pickup is a 1951 American film noir written and directed by Czech actor and filmmaker Hugo Haas. It was the first American film by Haas, a refugee from Nazi Europe, who went on to make a series of gloomy noirs about doomed middle-aged men led astray by younger femmes fatales.[1][2] Haas also starred in the film, alongside Beverly Michaels and Allan Nixon.

Theatrical release poster
Directed byHugo Haas
Written byJosef Kopta (Novel Guard No. 47)
Hugo Haas
Arnold Phillips
StarringHugo Haas
Beverly Michaels
Allan Nixon
Music byHarold Byrns
CinematographyPaul Ivano
Edited byW. L. Bagier
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release date
July 24, 1951 (US)
Running time
78 minutes


Low-budget, and showing it, Pickup contains a plot that is similar to that of The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946), but according to Larry Langman "a poor man's version".[2]

Haas plays Jan "Hunky" Horak, a hard-of-hearing railroad dispatcher who lives in a poor neighborhood by the railroad tracks and is seduced by Betty (Michaels), who is after his money. After they marry, Betty and her lover Steve Kowalski (Nixon) scheme to murder him. But in a chance accident, Jan regains his hearing and discovers their plot. Steve has a last-minute change of heart and Betty leaves, disgusted with Steve's inaction. [3][4]


Time magazine praised Haas as "Hollywood's most promising new moviemaker" since Stanley Kramer, calling the film "a fascinating game of cat & mouse, played for pathos as well as suspense", and noted how its sense of character, acceptance of human frailty, and seedy, impoverished setting made it far from the usual Hollywood film.[5] More recently Filmfanatic.org called it "a tawdry, low-budget camp classic", criticising predictable elements but praising the dialog and some unexpected plot twists.[6] Fernando F Croce remarked on its "unusually blunt masochism" and sympathetic treatment of the femme fatale (who makes it out alive).[7]

Release and availability

It opened in New York on August 30, 1951.[8] Released only to secondary and independent theaters upon its 1951 release, Pickup has yet to receive a VHS or DVD release.

See also


  1. "Pickup (1951)". Film Noir of the Week. April 15, 2007. Retrieved September 27, 2012.
  2. Langman, Larry (2000). Destination Hollywood: The Influence of Europeans on American Filmmaking. McFarland. p. 23.
  3. Beatty, Josh (2005). Heritage Vintage Movie Poster Signature Auction 2005 Catalog #624. Heritage Capital Corporation. p. 63.
  4. Lyons, Arthur (2000). Death On The Cheap: The Lost B Movies Of Film Noir. Da Capo. p. 126.
  5. "The New Pictures". Time, 0040781X, 8/27/1951, Vol. 58, Issue 9
  6. "Pickup (1951)". Filmfanatic.org.
  7. Croce, Fernando F. "Pickup". CinePassion. Retrieved September 27, 2012.
  8. "Pickup (1951)". TCM. Retrieved September 27, 2012.
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