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on 19 October 2011
This low brow favourite from Elmore Leonard's pen is I must confess a novel I've not read-I found Leonard's writing impenetrable--but to the movie.

A Cannon opening starts it(that is enough to send shivers up the spine of any movie fan!!).

It is quickly established that the lead character Harry Mitchell is having an affair with a younger woman, concisely that he is a self made man, and that he is been blackmailed and decides to take action against his tormentors.
Lit by Jost Vacano and having a lurid and sordid set-up, and environment of Los Angeles.

Roy Schieder was always an underrated actor and made this as his fame was fading in the eighties-he gives a terrific performance as a man desperately salvaging his marriage and attempting to turn tables on his blackmailers.
Ann Margaret as his betrayed wife-holds her own.

The movie really belongs to John Glover-as a sleazy pornographer/murderer-(the second time he and Schieder worked together as well, with The Last Embrace, being the 1st).
Clarence Williams 111 is superb as Bobby Shy-a truly vile human being.

Frankenheimer brings all theses diverse elements together to make a realistic (within the realms of movies), sleazy revenge thriller-Schieder is superb as a man out of his element, whom is willing to fight back-on his terms.

Frankenheimer restores faith in his abilities after the abberation of "The Holcroft Covenant", he was a truly talented director, whom went adrift in the 1970's. This at least restored him partially.
Pick it up cheap-and be surprised
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52 Pick-Up was one of the few rays of light in the dark days when every screen adaptation of an Elmore Leonard novel would go horribly wrong and when John Frankenheimer's name on the credits wasn't exactly a guarantee of quality any more, although it sank quickly due to a botched marketing campaign (the producers decided to play up the good reviews by touting it as `The best film this season from Cannon,' which is a bit like boasting about having the least contagious form of VD). A riff on his earlier Western The Tall T, this sees businessman Roy Scheider set up by a trio of blackmailers who, not taking kindly to him confessing his affair to his wife rather than pay up, murder his girlfriend with his gun so as not to miss out on their payday, only for Scheider to turn them against each other. While it's no Out of Sight, it's an effectively seedy L.A. thriller with a couple of outstanding supporting turns by John Glover and a seriously mucked-up and dangerous Clarence Williams III.

No extras, but it does have a decent 1.85:1 widescreen transfer.
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52 Pick-Up is directed by John Frankenheimer and written by Elmore Leonard (adapting from his own novel) and John Steppling. It stars Roy Scheider, Ann-Margret, John Glover, Vanity, Clarence Williams III, Robert Trebor and Kelly Preston. Music is by Gary Chang and cinematography by Jost Vacano and Stephen Ramsey.

Successful business entrepreneur Harry Mitchell (Scheider) finds himself the victim of blackmail by three pornographers who have video evidence of his extramarital affair. With his wife about to embark on a new stage of her political career, the last thing Harry needs is a scandal, but when things take a turn for the worse Harry decides to use unorthodox methods to deal with the blackmailers.

A nifty neo-noir this, certainly deserving of being better known in neo-noir circles. The presence of Leonard at the writing table ensures that the story doesn't drift too far away from his own source material, though location is moved to L.A. as opposed to the Detroit of the novel. Thematic thrust centres around Mitchell being caught for his indiscretions and what the consequences of his actions means for all around him, quite often with devastating results.

Mitchell has to move about a seedy world of pornography, of cheap peekaboo bars, strip joints and snuff movies, he has to get to the level of his blackmailers so as to enact his plans with conviction. The three weasels played by Glover, Williams and Trebor are in turn slimy, menacing and a twitchy neurotic, an off-beat trio suitably framed by Frankenheimer's sleazy and cold world.

It may not be prime Frankenheimer but the director knows his noir onions, both in performances garnered from his strong cast and via his visual ticks. Characters are more often than not smoking or drinking liquor, sweating or looking pained as the camera gets up close and personal, the director even finds place for a bit of slatted shadow play in one sequence and menacing angled shards for another.

Some contrivances are more annoying than hindrances, it's a bit bloodless for a picture not lacking in action scenes, and although the finale is signposted without due care and attention, it is still sufficiently rewarding. Decadence, sleaze, greed, paranoia and moral decay come crashing together to create a sadly neglected piece of 1980s neo-noir. A yuppie revenger where there are no heroes, just sinners and victims. 7.5/10
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VINE VOICEon 11 June 2014
When it comes to this 1980s production of Elmore Leonard's original novel I am very much on the same page with the late film critic Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times. His positive comments, a real reinforcer for a good thriller based film. For me this is a well-crafted movie by a man who knows how to hook the audience with the story he is telling. What really sells this movie is John Glover who plays his villainous role with shear relish, and to quote Mr Ebert `provides us with the best, most reprehensible villain of the year and uses his vile charm as the starting point'. If anything sells this film short it is the fact that it was in anyway handled by the Cannon Group, a low brow company that focused its efforts on low - budget films and had heavy interests in the Video (VHS) market - to which this film was regulated far too quickly.

This is a pretty good film, but I believe sold short by those that had a vested interest in promoting to its' best - a film for those who like a good thriller with a twist, as well those who want to see Elmore Leonard's book mirrored reasonably closely into the moving image.
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on 24 September 2012
Not one of the best Elmore Leonard adaptions but still worth watching Roy Scheider and Ann Margaret playing fervently a married couple with a bunch of predicaments.
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on 19 July 2015
It's not a new film but the acting is good and there are enough twists in the plot to keep things interesting. Good for an evening in!
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on 22 May 2015
Porn I can watch in front of the wife
Read the book you lazy **** oh you have well then enjoy
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on 19 December 2014
we are elmore leonard fans but this film is not as good as the book. The humour and wit removed..
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on 27 October 2015
Brilliant film very enjoyable, just as I remember it.
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on 12 December 2014
Film a bit grainy
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