Pickup Alley (1957) – Film Review

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Pickup Alley (1957)

Film Review

Director: John Gilling
Cast: Victor Mature, Anita Ekberg, Trevor Howard
Certificate: PG

by Sarah Morgan

Globetrotting adventures, a psychotic killer, a beautiful woman and a cop with revenge on his mind. All these are crucial elements of Pickup Alley, a classy 1957 low-budget film noir with a wonderful pedigree.

John Gilling may not be regarded as A-list British director, but he deserves a better reputation. Horror fans will know him for his work on The Flesh and The Fiends as well as the well-regarded Hammer movies The Plague of the Zombies, The Reptile and The Mummy’s Shroud. He added a distinctly stylish touch to these projects, helping to turn what might otherwise have been humdrum movies into classics.

pickup alley film review coverHe does the same thing with Pickup Alley – which was also known as Interpol in some quarters – despite being hampered with a leading man, Victor Mature, who looks as if he’d rather be anywhere else than on Gilling’s set.

“Terrifying villain”

Mature plays US agent Charles Sturgis, whose sister is murdered in the opening scenes by Frank McNally. Determined to get his man, Sturgis embarks on a mission that takes him from New York to London, Lisbon, Rome, Naples and Athens.

Along the way, he learns a valuable lesson – to put his emotions to one side in order to make sure that justice prevails.

Trevor Howard takes the role of McNally, and clearly relishes every moment of being bad. Up until this moment, his career had mostly involved him displaying a very stiff upper lip in heroic or romantic roles, but he makes a rather terrifying villain.

Anita Ekberg, before stardom beckoned via a role in La Dolce Vita, portrays a statuesque blonde (obviously) who is blackmailed into helping McNally carry out his nefarious plans.

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“Excellent documentary”

A host of excellent character actors pop up throughout, including Bonar Colleano, Andre Morell (who would later appear in the aforementioned The Plague of the Zombies), Eric Pohlmann, Sydney Tafler, Danny Green and even Sid James, who all add a little colour to the production.

In fact, the only bum note comes from Mature, but clearly Warwick Films, the company behind the movie, didn’t see anything wrong; they’d already employed him twice and would give him another starring role in No Time to Die a year later.

Warwick Films, incidentally, was owned by Irving Allen and Albert R ‘Cubby’ Broccoli. Among the special features there’s an excellent documentary about the company, which not only discusses their output, but also offers insights into how various elements came together during the Warwick years that would prove valuable when Broccoli moved on to make the James Bond movies.

Performances6
Direction8
Screenplay7.9
Originality6
Cinematography8
Extras7
SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS
• High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation transferred from original film elements
• Uncompressed Mono 1.0 PCM audio soundtrack
• Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
• The Warwick Way, writer and curator Josephine Botting on the prolific and successful production company, Warwick Films
• Original 1957 US theatrical release prologue by Congressman Hale Boggs, Chairman of the US Senate Committee of Narcotics
• Original theatrical trailer and TV spot
• Image gallery
• Reversible sleeve featuring two original artwork options
Pickup Alley is released on Blu-ray by Arrow Academy, £19.99
7.2
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