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52 Pick-Up
52 Pick-Up.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJohn Frankenheimer
Produced by
Screenplay by
Based on52 Pick-Up
by Elmore Leonard
Music byGary Chang
CinematographyJost Vacano[1]
Edited byRobert F. Shugrue
Distributed byCannon Group
Release date
  • November 7, 1986 (1986-11-07)
Running time
110 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States[1]
Box office$5.2 million[2]

52 Pick-Up is a 1986 American neo-noir crime film directed by John Frankenheimer and starring Roy Scheider, Ann-Margret, and Vanity.[3] It is based on Elmore Leonard's 1974 novel of the same name.


Harry Mitchell (Roy Scheider) is a successful businessman with mechanical aptitude living in the suburbs of Los Angeles whose wife Barbara (Ann-Margret) is running for city council. Harry is confronted by three hooded blackmailers who demand $105,000 per year for a videotape of him and the mistress, Cini (Kelly Preston), with whom he has been having an affair.

Because of his wife's political aspirations he cannot go to the police. Harry's stubborn inclination is to not surrender to the threats, and when his lawyer advises him that paying the blackmailers won't ensure that they go away, he refuses to pay. The three criminals intensify the pressure on Harry by murdering Cini, capturing the killing on videotape, and framing Harry for the murder. They demand $105,000 a year from Harry for the rest of his life to keep hidden the evidence they have on him.

Using deduction and trickery, Harry tracks down the identity of the blackmailers. He shows his financial records to their leader, Alan Raimy (John Glover), who Harry has realized has a background in accounting. The ledgers show that Harry cannot afford $105,000. Raimy agrees to accept Harry's offer of $52,000 instead, at least as a first payment.

Harry confesses everything to Barbara, who is furious at him and insists he move out of their bedroom. Harry succeeds in turning the blackmailers against one another, though putting Barbara's life in danger in the process. A stripper, Doreen (Vanity), who inadvertently helped Harry learn who the blackmailers are, is assaulted by Raimy's accomplice, Bobby Shy (Clarence Williams III). Bobby then kills their third partner, Leo (Robert Trebor), believing he has betrayed the gang.

Raimy kills both Bobby and Doreen, then kidnaps Barbara and sedates her with a narcotic, agreeing to ransom her for the agreed upon $52,000. Harry and Raimy make the exchange. Raimy had previously expressed interest in Harry’s sports car, so Harry offers it to him to use as a getaway vehicle. Raimy accepts it, but when he turns the key to start the motor the doors lock shut, trapping him inside the car, which, seconds later, explodes in a ball of fire.



52 Pick-Up opened in New York and Los Angeles on November 7, 1986.[4] The film was distributed by the Cannon Group.[4] It debuted poorly at the box office.[5]


Patrick Goldstein, writing in the Los Angeles Times, described the film as "a dull, plodding thriller that finds Mitchell in a deadly war with a trio of crazed blackmailers."[6] On the other hand, Roger Ebert, writing in the Chicago Sun-Times, claimed it "provides us with the best, most reprehensible villain of the year and uses his vile charm as the starting point for a surprisingly good film. ... This is a well-crafted movie by a man who knows how to hook the audience with his story; it's Frankenheimer's best work in years."[7] The New York Times film critic Janet Maslin described it as "fast-paced, lurid, exploitative and loaded with malevolent energy. John Frankenheimer, who directed, hasn't done anything this darkly entertaining since Black Sunday."[8] Tom Milne (Monthly Film Bulletin) described the film as "enjoyable, up to a point, as anything Frankenheimer has done in recent years." while noting that the weakness in the film was that "the protagonist and his wife are much too sketchily realised"[1]

52 Pick-Up currently holds a 43% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on fourteen reviews.[9]


  1. ^ a b c d e Milne, Tom (May 1, 1987). "52 Pick-Up". Monthly Film Bulletin. Vol. 54 no. 640. British Film Institute. p. 148.
  2. ^ "52 Pick-Up (1986)". Box Office Mojo. 1988-07-05. Retrieved 2012-08-23.
  3. ^ "52 Pick-Up". TCM database. Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved February 16, 2016.
  4. ^ a b "52 Pick-Up". American Film Institute. Archived from the original on October 3, 2016. Retrieved July 12, 2016.
  5. ^ Friendly, David T. (November 13, 1986). "Reagans on 'Soul Man': Thumbs Up - Los Angeles Times". Retrieved 2012-08-23.
  6. ^ Goldstein, Patrick (7 November 1986). "Movie Review: '52 Pickup': Film Noir Idea Gone Gray". LA Times.
  7. ^ Ebert, Roger (7 November 1986). "52 Pick-Up".
  8. ^ New York Times Company (November 7, 1986). Screen: '52 PICK-UP,' A No-Frills Thriller by Janet Maslin. Retrieved on March 25, 2007.
  9. ^

External links

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