Pickup Alley


1h 32m 1957
Pickup Alley

Brief Synopsis

A U.S. narcotics agent trails an international drug smuggler.

Film Details

Also Known As
Half Past Hell, Interpol, The Most Wanted Woman
Genre
Crime
Thriller
Adaptation
Release Date
Aug 1957
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Warwick Film Productions, Ltd.
Distribution Company
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Country
Great Britain and United States
Location
Athens,Greece; Genoa,Italy; Lisbon,Portugal; London--Elstree Studios, England, Great Britain; Paris,France; Rome,Italy; Rome--The Catacombs,Italy
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Interpol by A. J. Forrest (London, 1955).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 32m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1
Film Length
11 reels

Synopsis

In New York, a woman urgently phones the narcotics division of the FBI to notify her brother, agent Charles Sturgis, that she has found the man for whom they have been looking. As she speaks, someone slips into the room and strangles her. When Charles goes to identify his sister's body, he finds her clutching a book of matches from the Bear Den bar. At the Bear Den, Charles follows a drug-addicted waitress as she sneaks out the back door for a fix. After snatching a hypodermic from her hands, Charles takes her to headquarters for questioning. There Charles vents his frustration over being unable to apprehend Frank McNally, the mysterious head of an international drug ring. When word comes from the Interpol bureau in London that Salko, McNally's accomplice, has been spotted in London, Charles flies there to find him. At New Scotland Yard, an Interpol inspector explains that they have no description or picture of McNally, as he changes his appearance at whim. At Salko's apartment, meanwhile, Gina Borger, McNally's drug courier, comes to deliver a satchel to Salko. When Salko sexually accosts her, Gina pulls a pistol from her coat, shoots him and flees. Soon after, Charles, accompanied by Interpol officers, arrives at the apartment and although they find a pool of blood on the rug, Salko is missing. In another part of London, Gina begs McNally to release her as his courier. Implying that he will turn her in for McNally's murder unless she cooperates with him, McNally instructs her to pick up a package in Lisbon and deliver it to him in Rome. After Interpol identifies a set of fingerprints found at the crime scene as belonging to Gina, her picture is distributed to international customs agents. Upon landing in Lisbon, she is recognized by an agent who notifies Interpol. Charles then flies to Lisbon to find her. When Gina goes to a luggage shop to pick up a shipment of drugs, the proprietor notices that she is being followed and phones his contact in Rome to apprise McNally of the situation. In Rome, meanwhile, McNally strikes a bargain with Baris, the corrupt captain of a cargo ship, to transport the drugs across the sea. When Gina arrives in Rome, McNally warns her that she is being followed and directs her to meet him at the Catacombs the next day. Charles trails her there, and as they descend into the Catacombs, McNally emerges from the shadows, pulls her aside and instructs her to travel to Athens in a few days. After Gina slips out, Charles notices that she is gone and is about to go after her when one of McNally thugs sneaks up behind him, ready to plunge a knife into his back. Just then, a startled tourist trips and lets out a shriek, alerting Charles, who dodges the attack and runs out of the Catacombs. On the steps outside, Charles is approached by Amalio, a street hawker from New York, who offers to sell him information about McNally. Later that night, Amalio calls Charles and informs him that McNally underwent plastic surgery in Tangier. After hailing a cab, Amalio takes Charles to a hotel and directs him to a room on the third floor, where he finds Gina. Charles warns her that she is in grave trouble and asks her to help him find McNally. Just then, McNally's thugs burst in and knock Charles unconscious. Awakening in a cell, Charles is taken to Capt. Varolli, the head of the police department, who accuses him of acting like a lone vigilante and insists that he cooperate with the authorities in his hunt for McNally. Varolli then informs Charles that Gina flew to Athens that morning and that the Greek police have arrested Fayala, an accomplice of McNally's. Charles then tells Amalio that he is leaving for Athens to question Fayala. In Athens, Salko, wounded but still alive, is held captive by McNally. Fayala, meanwhile, has been coerced by the police to lead Charles and the others to McNally's hideout, but as they approach the vicinity, one of McNally's thugs shoots Fayala in the back. Alerted by the sound of gunfire, McNally strangles Salko and flees across the rooftops, eluding the police. Armed with new information about Gina, Amalio flies to Athens and tells Charles where he can find her. When one of McNally's henchmen sees the police come to arrest Gina, he hurries to telephone McNally. Amalio follows him and eavesdrops on the phone conversation. Amalio then phones Charles at Interpol headquarters and, after telling him that McNally ordered his henchmen to rent a van, provides him with its license plate number. Charles tracks the van to the docks, and after shooting the driver in an exchange of gunfire, finds a note addressed to Baris on the dead man's body. Upon learning that Baris' ship has just sailed for New York, Charles notifies New York customs officials to watch for the ship. Charles, with Gina in tow, then flies back to New York, and McNally arrives shortly thereafter. When a thorough search of the ship fails to turn up any drugs, Charles is bitterly disappointed. After the police leave, McNally, disguised as a longshoreman, uses a blowtorch to dismantle Baris' refrigerator in which the drugs are concealed. After cramming the drugs into two suitcases, McNally directs one of his henchmen to carry them off the ship and load them onto a truck. After McNally snatches the cases from the truck, Charles chases him into a warehouse. As they wend their way through the cavernous structure, a watchman orders Charles to stop and shoots him. When McNally leaps from a window onto a pallet being hoisted onto a ship, Charles shoots him, sending McNally falling to his death. At FBI headquarters in New York, Gina identifies McNally's body, bringing the case to a close.

Film Details

Also Known As
Half Past Hell, Interpol, The Most Wanted Woman
Genre
Crime
Thriller
Adaptation
Release Date
Aug 1957
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Warwick Film Productions, Ltd.
Distribution Company
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Country
Great Britain and United States
Location
Athens,Greece; Genoa,Italy; Lisbon,Portugal; London--Elstree Studios, England, Great Britain; Paris,France; Rome,Italy; Rome--The Catacombs,Italy
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Interpol by A. J. Forrest (London, 1955).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 32m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1
Film Length
11 reels

Articles

Pickup Alley


"This is a picture about DOPE!," proclaimed the posters for Pickup Alley (1957), an international crime drama starring Victor Mature as an American FBI agent on the trail of the shadowy head of a European drug smuggling operation flooding New York with heroine. It's personal for Mature--his sister was an undercover operative murdered by the cartel--and he hopscotches all over Europe tailing the gang's beautiful courier (Anita Ekberg) to find the enigmatic Frank McNally, a cartel king so mysterious that Interpol doesn't even know what he looks like. It's based on the novel "Interpol" by A.J. Forrest and it was released in Europe under that name.

It was produced by Warwick Films, a British studio created by Albert R. Broccoli and Irving Allen, with co-financing by Columbia Pictures in Hollywood, and it was shot at Elstree Studios in London and on location in Rome and Genoa in Italy; Athens, Greece; Lisbon, Portugal; and Paris, France. Mature was a veteran of previous Warwick productions and the name star needed for the American market. Swedish-born Ekberg was a Hollywood contract player who was more famous for her voluptuous looks and tabloid romances than for her performances. It was Federico Fellini who made her an international sensation when he sent her splashing through Rome's Revi Fountain with Marcello Mastroianni in La Dolce Vita (1960). Trevor Howard provides the British contribution to the film's star power as the psychopathic drug kingpin McNally, a cocky criminal mastermind with a smirking confidence, witty manner, and cold-blooded soul. The performance recalls the cool, cagey Calloway from The Third Man (1949) and the cynical, conniving Willems of Outcast of the Islands (1951).

Warwick assigned director John Gilling, a veteran of low-budget productions like Mother Riley Meets the Vampire (1952) before he making Odongo (1956) for Warwick, and Gilling's regular cinematographer Ted Moore, who came with Gilling from the trenches of British B movies. Curiously, it is their studio work that stands out from the finished film, where Moore's lighting and Gilling's widescreen compositions and staging bring noir style to the continental investigation. Gilling went on to direct a handful of pictures for Hammer Films, including Plague of the Zombies (1966) and The Reptile (1966), and Moore went even bigger, shooting the first three James Bond films for producer Broccoli and winning an Academy Award as director of photography for A Man for All Seasons (1966).

By Sean Axmaker

Sources:
AFI Catalog of Feature Films
IMDb
Pickup Alley

Pickup Alley

"This is a picture about DOPE!," proclaimed the posters for Pickup Alley (1957), an international crime drama starring Victor Mature as an American FBI agent on the trail of the shadowy head of a European drug smuggling operation flooding New York with heroine. It's personal for Mature--his sister was an undercover operative murdered by the cartel--and he hopscotches all over Europe tailing the gang's beautiful courier (Anita Ekberg) to find the enigmatic Frank McNally, a cartel king so mysterious that Interpol doesn't even know what he looks like. It's based on the novel "Interpol" by A.J. Forrest and it was released in Europe under that name. It was produced by Warwick Films, a British studio created by Albert R. Broccoli and Irving Allen, with co-financing by Columbia Pictures in Hollywood, and it was shot at Elstree Studios in London and on location in Rome and Genoa in Italy; Athens, Greece; Lisbon, Portugal; and Paris, France. Mature was a veteran of previous Warwick productions and the name star needed for the American market. Swedish-born Ekberg was a Hollywood contract player who was more famous for her voluptuous looks and tabloid romances than for her performances. It was Federico Fellini who made her an international sensation when he sent her splashing through Rome's Revi Fountain with Marcello Mastroianni in La Dolce Vita (1960). Trevor Howard provides the British contribution to the film's star power as the psychopathic drug kingpin McNally, a cocky criminal mastermind with a smirking confidence, witty manner, and cold-blooded soul. The performance recalls the cool, cagey Calloway from The Third Man (1949) and the cynical, conniving Willems of Outcast of the Islands (1951). Warwick assigned director John Gilling, a veteran of low-budget productions like Mother Riley Meets the Vampire (1952) before he making Odongo (1956) for Warwick, and Gilling's regular cinematographer Ted Moore, who came with Gilling from the trenches of British B movies. Curiously, it is their studio work that stands out from the finished film, where Moore's lighting and Gilling's widescreen compositions and staging bring noir style to the continental investigation. Gilling went on to direct a handful of pictures for Hammer Films, including Plague of the Zombies (1966) and The Reptile (1966), and Moore went even bigger, shooting the first three James Bond films for producer Broccoli and winning an Academy Award as director of photography for A Man for All Seasons (1966). By Sean Axmaker Sources: AFI Catalog of Feature Films IMDb

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The working titles of this film were Interpol, Half Past Hell and The Most Wanted Woman. The Daily Variety review states that the film opens with a foreword in which Sir Ronald Howe, a former British chief of Interpol, explains the operation of the service as "the longest arm of the law." That foreword was missing from the viewed print. The opening and closing cast credits differ slightly in order. Although a November 1955 Daily Variety news item notes that Percy Hoskins, a London Daily Express crime reporter, was to write the script, his contribution to the released film has not been determined. According to a March 1956 Los Angeles Times news item, Michael Wilding was considered for a starring role. Hollywood Reporter news items add that location shooting was done in Rome and Genoa Italy; Athens, Greece; Lisbon, Portugal and Paris, France. Interiors were filmed at London's Elstree Studios, according to an August 1957 Hollywood Reporter news item. According to a March 1957 Hollywood Reporter news item, at the behest of the PCA, the word "dope" was cut from an ad for the film.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Summer August 1957

CinemaScope

Released in United States Summer August 1957