52 Pick Up has a simple premise but it makes for an effective thriller from director John Frankenheimer, where Mitch (Roy Scheider) finds himself blackmailed for sleeping with young floozy Cini (Kelly Preston), for a sum of cash that eventually settles on a sum related to the title, but was nothing related to throwing a pack of cards up in the air after asking someone if they fancied a game of 52 Card Pick-Up.
Rather than take things lying down, our anti-hero tracks the baddies down to try and turn the tables on them, with the actors hamming it up nicely, as all provide a brilliant trilogy of entertainment in John Glover, Robert Trebor and Clarence Williams III, conspiring together to take him down, but there’s dissention in the ranks as they start to vehemently disagree about the direction they should take… but then if you can’t trust baddies, who can you trust(?)
Schneider gives his usual assured performance while the style of the film, along with him, shows where Basic Instinct and Michael Douglas got a lot of their style from.
However, I was hoping for more from Doug McClure, whose character turns up to run for election early on, but he was soon out of the picture without saying a word (that’s not a spoiler – the character just has no bearing on anything that follows, so he’s forgotten about).
52 Pick-Up is a solid, entertaining thriller with well-rounded characters (particularly a lot of the porn stars – F’nar! F’nar!, who cameo here and there as highlighted in one of the extras), as well as former Prince protégé Vanity, singer with Vanity 6 and who gave me many happy memories back in the ’80s for reasons different to the music of her mentor. Sadly, I learned that she passed away two months before he did. 2016 has been a horrible year for celebrity deaths 🙁
As an aside, despite the porn stars featured in this movie, I didn’t think it quite warranted an 18-certificate overall, and that it looked more like a 15. However, the BBFC’s website shows that it was rated again by Arrow prior to release and it still stayed as an 18.
The film is presented in the original 1.85:1 widescreen ratio and in 1080p high definition. As you’d expect in most cases for a movie from a fair number of years ago shot on film, the initial part of the first reel would be on the outside of the spindle and means that the opening scene and credits look far from fantastic. After that, however, there’s plenty of great definition onscreen, and it’s a treat to view it in Blu-ray.
In addition, since it was made in 1986, some of the outdoor scenes give me a feel of Grand Theft Auto V, especially as Mitch heads towards the warehouse (for the scene I won’t give away here)
The audio is in DTS HD 2.0 (stereo). It’s not a special effects movie, but there’s an engaging score from Gary Chang.
Surprisingly for an Arrow release, there aren’t a huge amount of extras:
- Audio commentary: with New York Times film critic Glenn Kenny and TV Guide editor Doug Brod.
- Hardcore Cameos (12:10): Mr Kenny and Mr Brod flick through the film and talk us through the porn-star cameos within, the most notable being Ron Jeremy, even though he only has a small part 😉
- Theatrical trailer (1:44): In the original 1.85:1 theatrical ratio, and I’m sure there’s footage in here which wasn’t in the final cut.
My review disc was the film and extras on Blu-ray, but if you buy the finished release, there’s also a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Reinhard Kleist, and the first pressing includes a collector’s booklet containing new writing on the film by The Badlands Collective.
The main menu features a short piece of the music set to clips from the film. Bizarre, there are even less than the bog-standard 12 chapters here, as there’s just EIGHT, and subtitles are in English.
52 Pick-Up is out now on Blu-ray/DVD Dual-format, and check out the full-size cover by clicking on the packshot.
Running time: 110 mins
Distributor: Arrow Films
Released: October 17th 2016
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: DTS-HD 1.0 Master Audio (Mono)
Widescreen: 1.85:1 (35mm)
Disc Format: BD50
Director: John Frankenheimer
Producers: Yoram Globus and Menahem Golan
Screenplay: Elmore Leonard and John Steppling (Based on the novel by Elmore Leonard)
Music: Gary Chang
Harry Mitchell: Roy Scheider
Barbara Mitchell: Ann-Margret
Alan Raimy: John Glover
Leo Franks: Robert Trebor
Jim O’Boyle: Lonny Chapman
Cini: Kelly Preston
Mark Arveson: Doug McClure
Bobby Shy: Clarence Williams III
Dan Lowenthal: Alex Henteloff
Counter Girl: Michelle Walker
Test Site Worker: Philip Bartko
Party Goers: Tom Byron, Herschel Savage, Ron Jeremy, Amber Lynn, Sharon Mitchell, Ines Ochoa, Allyson Palmeter, Katherine Poland, Debra Satell, Amy White
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.