Pickpocket (1959) Script

The style of this film is not that of a thriller.

Using image and sound, the filmmaker strives to express the nightmare of a young man whose weaknesses lead him to commit acts of theft for which nothing destined him.

However, this adventure, and the strange paths it takes, brings together two souls that may otherwise never have met.

I know those who've done these things usually keep quiet, and those who talk haven't done them.

Yet I have done them.

I had made my decision some days before.

But would I have the nerve?

I should have left.

I was walking on air, with the world at my feet.

But a minute later I was caught.

You can't prove anything. You're not certain.

We won't keep you any longer, sir. You may go.

I wanted to put my thoughts in order.

I was exhausted. I slept until morning.

I hadn't seen my mother for a month.

I hesitated.


I have the key. I'll let you in.

Who are you?

Jeanne, a neighbor.

How is she?

Not well. She frets a lot.

She has nothing.

It's you she needs.

Could you give her this money?

You're not coming in to see her?

Good-bye, Jeanne.

Will you come back?

Jacques was honest and resourceful.

I'd been avoiding him, but that evening —

I have no work. I'll take anything.

Any addresses?

That you won't use?

This is serious.

All right, then. One more time.

You're good with your hands.

I know — you deserve better.

Just learn to wait.

Be happy with what's offered.

It will bring you a new suit, a tie His face seemed familiar to me.

Stupidly, I greeted him.

Do you recognize me?

I'd look like a scatterbrain, but why should I fear him?

Are there many thieves?

Many. All different kinds.

An infinite variety.

Not all theft is so serious.

Some can be excused if poverty is behind it.

Of course.

Could one turn a blind eye to certain kinds of theft?

You have a theory on that. Me?

Let's hear it.

It's nothing new.

Let's hear it anyway.

Can we not admit that certain skilled men, gifted with intelligence, talent or even genius, and thus indispensable to society, rather than stagnate, should be free to disobey laws in certain cases?

That could be difficult. And dangerous.

Society could only gain from it.

Who will identify these supermen?

They themselves. Their conscience.

You know any man who doesn't think he's exceptional?

Don't worry. It would only be at first. Then they'd stop.

They don't stop, believe me.

A useful thief, then? A benefactor?

That's the world upside down.

It's already upside down. This could set it right.

Michel, can you explain?

I have explained.

They were wrong. They apologized.

Of course.

It's despicable, true.

But why did you have to go and tell him all that?

First off, you made me talk about it.

Second, it doesn't matter.

Those addresses.

Will you go?

After I made some money — Is that what I needed?

Did I really think it would get me anywhere?

But I couldn't face returning to my room.

Why were my eyes glued to that one strange man?

Of course, the wallet was inside.

Which fingers should I use?

I knew I must try harder.

The paper was shaking in my hands.

My heart was pounding.

This success encouraged me.

It was due more to luck than skill.


Your theories don't interest him, but you do.

He asked about me?

Don't worry. He knows who you are now.

Found any work yet?

I need nothing.

Can you live on nothing? You're mad!

Where are you going? Stay here.

I changed routes each time, using one line and then another.

I did this for a week.

The pickings were poor and not worth the risk.

Give me back my wallet.

Shall I call the police?

I stayed in for a few days, instinctively cautious, only going out for dinner.

This young lady is here for you.

How about some light?

Look where the great man lives — in a hovel.

It's my mother, isn't it?

She's very ill.

She keeps asking why you turned away from her door.

You did that? You must come.

Thank you, Jeanne.

Will you come?

Shall I go?

Yes, go. Jeanne will show you the way.

Selfish man. You say you love your mother?

More than myself. But just go, please. Go.

You're an odd one.

What is it? Who are you?

I had to know.

Fifteen minutes later, we were friends.

Come and see.

There, in that small bar, I learned most of my tricks.

He taught me generously and freely.

My fingers needed exercise to become supple.

The pinball machine helped with my reflexes.

I went home only to sleep.

Had it been there long? I had stepped right over it.


Her face was calm. She was sleeping.

I know you don't like questions. I won't ask any.

I thought I bored you. Now I understand everything.

Your friend came here. He told me about you.

What did he say? Bad things?

I wouldn't have let him. No, he's very fond of you.

I was worried. I was wrong.

You're bright enough to succeed whenever you want.

I want to now. I want to make you happy.

But I'm going away, my child.

We must leave one another.

Tomorrow you'll be better. You'll be up soon.

The doctor said so. Didn't he, Jeanne?

I'm sure of it.


All that's left.

Papers, letters, a few photos.

It's over. There's no turning back now.

Are you leaving?

I have to pick my sister up from school.

Jeanne... do you think we'll be judged?

Yes, but don't fear for her. She was perfect.

Judged how? According to laws? What laws? It's absurd.

Do you believe in nothing?

I believed in God, Jeanne, for three minutes.

A week later, I sat down in the lobby of a famous bank.

I got scared.

He got away from me.

We split our take over cards. We could show the money openly.

Next time, there'll be three of us, not two.

Is that clear? Perfectly clear.

We weren't talkative. In all that time, he knew me no better than I knew him.

Going through my things?

Where did you find that?

There, on the table.

Thieves disgust me.

They're idlers.

Barrington was no idler. He'd spend all night reading.

To trick rich people into being his friends.

He stole from friends. You think that's right?

Let's go out. Come on.

Still, he had guts. They hanged thieves back then.

Now, it's prison.

Do you know what prison is?

I can imagine. No, you can't.

May I borrow it? If you'd like.

The same old ideas? The same.

In any case, even the most skillful pickpocket won't help humanity progress.

I never said that.

It's absurd.

Tell me, do you think there are many around?

Many of whom?

These supermen of yours.

Who can say? They don't get caught.

But you claim these people exist.

Perhaps you know one?

If I did, I wouldn't tell you.

Of course.

May I?

Barrington? Never heard of him.

Was he one of your supermen?

No, but feel free to take a look.

Come see me someday, and bring the book.

I know he suspects me.

So do you. Admit it.

Admit what?


Don't go see him.

I'm going to. Hand it over.

Go then, if you must.

He kept me waiting instead of having me shown in.

I brought you the book.

What book?

Ah, yes, Barrington.

Barrington interests you?

Everything interests me.

Of course. The young writer.

I thought I detected mockery in his eyes.

He made hooks that he would slip into pockets.


A Nuremberg cutler made 15 of these.

You must excuse me.

Keep it.


How did I not see it? It was a trap.

If I hurried, I might catch them in my room.

Nothing had been moved.

Nothing was out of place.

This trick required no help, but I hadn't yet acquired the knack.

Luck was on my side.

A finger circles the strap to hold it firm, while the thumb frees it from the buckle.

I practiced often.

It was Sunday. I was seeing Jacques.

Jeanne was joining us.

Very smart! Where's Jeanne?

Downstairs, waiting for us.

Are you sad?

You're not in the real world.

You share no interests with others.

Are you coming, Jeanne?

Coming, Michel?

Where are you going? On a plane.

You two go. I'll stay here.

Where's Michel?

I was running. I fell.

There you are.

I was so scared.

Scared of what?



Did you hurt your hand?

A little. It's nothing.

Where's Jeanne?

I saw her home. But I can go get her again.

You love her. Admit it.

And does she love you?

Buy gifts for her.

Have you thought of gifts?

The watch was beautiful.

I'd become incredibly audacious.

I got on well with my two accomplices.

It couldn't last.

Where had I seen him? I should have recognized him.

What on earth is wrong?

Here, read this.

The police have summoned Jeanne. Why her?

I don't know.

What do you advise?

She has to go. She has no choice.

Is that all?

You can make arrangements.

What arrangements?

Go now. You'll make me late.

Had they seen me?

I mustn't seem to be hiding or fleeing.

I hadn't heard him come up.

It's you?

I came by three days ago. I waited a while.

I was getting some air.

You're right. It's unhealthy staying shut up in here, absorbed in your books.

I know you suspect me.

If you feel you can arrest me, do it.

Put handcuffs on me.

Get them out, but don't push me.

Stop lurking around me.

I've left you alone, actually.

Toying with me, making fun of me.



Don't shout. Calm down.

Control yourself. Don't get all worked up.

And sit down, will you?

I came... because of my interest in you.

That means nothing to me.

To inform you of something I'd been unaware of.

A complaint was lodged over a year ago now — we hadn't met at the time — by a young woman at her local precinct.

What young woman? Never mind.

Some money had been stolen from an elderly neighbor.

The next day, the complaint was withdrawn.


Perhaps to avoid trouble for a relative or friend.

The lady had a son.

Stealing from your mother isn't really stealing.

Perhaps they pooled their resources.

But one month later, the young man was caught at the racetrack.

I had doubts, so I let him go.

Frankly, all that taken together — And who is the young man?


You're mistaken.

I'm not mistaken.

Odd methods!

Leave my methods out of it.

Rather than use psychology, you could have made sure by having my room searched when I called on you.

I did have your room searched that day, sir.

And what did they find?

Nothing, of course.

All this bores me to tears!

What do you want? To open your eyes.

They're wide open.

To the way you are.

But I'd be wasting my time.

As for the future — your future — Are you some prophet? Does it concern you?

Actually, it does concern me a little.

I should have questioned you. I didn't do my job.

But you don't have to confess. I don't care.

A simple report is enough.

One word from any one of my men can put you in jail.

Well, good-bye.

What are your plans?

My plans?

I want to know!

They asked if it was I who withdrew that complaint, or your mother.

What did you say? That your mother did.

Was it her?

So she knew.

Did you know too, Jeanne?

Did I know what?

But now you know.

Are you all trying to drive me mad?

The police questioned you about me.

They never mentioned you.

You see me living without any income...

at least that I admit to.

And you can't guess?

Think, you idiot.


They're going to arrest me.

My God!

But without proof, they'll have to let me go.

How could you?

There's nothing worse. You know that?

Knowing a deed is bad doesn't stop you.

But why?

To get ahead.

I was frustrated getting nowhere.

There were other ways.

You accept it.

You accept a drunken father and a mother who walks out on you, placing all the burden on you.

That's how it is.

How what is?

I don't know. Perhaps everything has a reason.

Jeanne, are you that naive?

Tell the truth.

Do you think I'm a thief?

Don't lie.

Yes, I think you are.

I won't shake your hand, then.

It's all too horrible.

Are you going away?

That idea suddenly seemed possible.

I recall wanting to take a suitcase.

I hardly knew anymore what I was doing.

Would they let me reach the station?

I went right to the ticket window.

I'll never forget that minute.

From Milan, I went to Rome before continuing on to England.

I spent two years in London, pulling off good jobs.

But I lost my earnings at cards or wasted them on women.

I ended up in Paris, drifting and penniless.

I ended up there almost by accident.

The place seemed empty.

Why was I watching that child?

What did your father say?

He took my sister and left. He took all I had.

But it's no crime to have a child.

It is. I was mad.

Why didn't you marry?

I didn't want to.

You, Jeanne?

Deceiving a man your whole life, making him think you love him?

You didn't love him?

No, not enough.

Where is he?

I haven't seen him in three months. Jacques?


I'll help you.

I'll look after the child.

You have to leave me... and never come back.

I can be honest.

At least let me try.

I'd lost touch with the police. I felt at ease.

You play the horses? Me?

Are you going? Perhaps.

Have you won anything?

Nothing. And you?


Perhaps I was wrong.

Oddly, the winner wasn't the horse he had backed.

His eyes had an evil gleam.

These walls, these bars — I don't care.

I don't even see them.

It's the idea.

What idea?

I dropped my guard and got caught.

That idea is unbearable.

You're suffering.

I've confessed everything.

That will help.

But I'll deny it later. I'll make it hard for them.

Why did you come?

You're all I have.

You want to gloat over my downfall?

I want no one, nothing.


There was something I hadn't said.

Why go on living?

My mind wasn't made up.

Jeanne didn't come back.

“The baby has been ill.

A high fever for almost three weeks.

I'm not worried anymore.

Michel, I'll come to see you soon. Jeanne.

My heart pounded as I read that letter.

Something lit up her face.

Oh, Jeanne, to reach you at last, what a strange path I had to take.