All the films from all the editions, including those subsequently removed, presently totalling 1187. An easy way of seeing how…
The Asphalt Jungle
The City Under the City
Recently paroled from prison, legendary burglar "Doc" Riedenschneider, with funding from Alonzo Emmerich, a crooked lawyer, gathers a small group of veteran criminals together in the Midwest for a big jewel heist.
One way or another, we all work for our vice.
My second John Huston adaptation of a W.R. Burnett novel this week, the first one being High Sierra. Huston co-wrote this one with Ben Maddow, but also directed this time around. It is one of the most influential heist films ever made for the simple fact that Huston and Maddow realized, even at this early stage, that what would make the film great wasn't the heist itself, but the characters involved.
The film is filled with clearly defined characterization with, even more impressively, very specific dialogue styles written for everyone in the film. Combine that with great performances by the entire ensemble cast and you end up with…
I have to admit that I was a bit predisposed to like this movie, I might say even giddy. It stars Sterling Hayden, and he plays two of my favourite characters in two of my favourite films; The Killing, and Dr. Strangelove. While it could be argued, successfully, that he plays the same character every time, I don’t really care. I just love his no nonsense tough guy delivery. Probably even more than James Cagney or Humphrey Bogart.
The first thing that struck me was the absence of score. Beyond the opening, there is none. The second thing that struck me was the sumptuous cinematography. This is a master plying his trade. This is the best looking and photographed Noir…
John Huston's heist noir is grittier than his Maltese Falcon, with Louis Calhern as the respectable criminal who is messing around with a slinky Marilyn Monroe and living on the brink of bankruptcy.
There's a jewellery robbery, a crooked private detective, a cripple, a couple of seedy convicts, and a double cross. It's all standard fare for the genre bit it's so dirty you need to wash your hands when you've seen it.
Small pleasures - Sterling Hayden's thug playing the heavy with his team, playing it soft with his girl Jean Hagen; James Whitmore setting up meetings; Sam Jaffe as the dapper mastermind; Monroe's stretching; Calhern's fop playing cards when his butler calls.
In the jungle no one is…
I like how Marilyn Monroe has retroactively been billed as the star of the film despite having maybe two minutes of screen time.
In some ways, he's the most dangerous of them all. A hardened killer. A hooligan. A man without human feeling or human mercy.
The more I watch this, the more I realize how much of an underrated character Dix Handley is with a great performance by Sterling Hayden. Simple in nature, but he has some layers to him.
I don't know why I expected Asphalt Jungle to be one of the best film noirs ever made. Perhaps it was because I was so familiar with the title that I made that assumption. There is little doubt that my very high expectations contributed to my disappointment.
The film isn't bad by any stretch; it just isn't the masterpiece I thought it would be.
It takes a while for the film to get going, and there is very little drama in the first few segments to be fully engrossing. The word "flat" describes it best but I'm not sure I could explain it if asked.
There is a very long introduction to all of the characters made interesting simply because…
Rififi surpassed it as the definitive heist movie for me, but The Asphalt Jungle is still top tier stuff with excellent performances from Sterling Hayden and Sam Jaffe, and expert direction from Huston.
The Asphalt Jungle is an odd one in that it doesn’t really have a single likeable character and yet you find yourself rooting for a few of them. I guess that’s down to some good writing and some really great acting. Even the films most hateable character, a hooligan that at various points is outright awful to a woman that tries to help him, ended up in my good books.
The film is made by the German main character though. He doesn’t come across as a criminal at all and hatches a perfect plan. He almost reminded me of Walter White from Breaking Bad in that respect. It’s also strange to see a film (SPOILERS) where no one gets away…
This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Noir #5 of my Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons.
Were I not in the middle of a noir marathon, I wouldn't question The Asphalt Jungle as a noir : it has a bleak worldview, the action takes place in a non-descript big city's underworld, and has characters constantly trying to double-cross each other out of greed... and in truth I'm not really questioning it, but it does stand out a bit from the other films in this marathon. No femme fatale (maybe Monroe but you're really stretching at that point), no voice-over narration or flashback structure, no weak-willed protagonist... in fact no protagonist at all. Maybe that's what feels most different about it. As the…
Hard core heist movie, not an ounce of fat.
Noir-vember 2016: Day 11
The Asphalt Jungle starts out as a sleek, gritty heist film with great characters and snappy pacing, but once the heist is completed, Huston flails and fails to keep control of the story's direction as it sprawls far beyond its reach and becomes a dismal mess. The centerpiece of the film wasn't all that compelling either. The heist came and went quietly without a trace of tension which is entirely disappointing considering how difficult it was touted as being. Honestly, I see it as the essence of the film itself-a lot of flash, but no meaningful weight to support it.
Faaaaantastic (although the poster used on this site is super misleading). Confession: There were a couple times where I zoned out on the story because I was hypnotized by Huston's compositions. Lots of modern films artlessly bludgeon you with basic camerawork and nonstop music, where as this relies on a sparse score and an endless succession of beautiful images.
A competent (often overrated) thriller by John Huston about a group of crooks who plan a jewel robbery and how their characters determine the results. Sterling Hayden is the central figure; the cast includes Sam Jaffe, Louis Calhern, Jean Hagen, Marilyn Monroe, James Whitmore, John McIntire, and Marc Lawrence. The screenplay, by Ben Maddow and Huston, was adapted from the W.R. Burnett novel. (Remade as THE BADLANDERS in 1958, CAIRO in 1963, and, with a black cast, as A COOL BREEZE in 1972.) MGM.
A great heist film, a great film noir, and a great character piece. The script is tight and intriguing. Dialog is classic gangster lingo. It's a pleasure watching the stories of the (very fleshed out) characters unfold, as well as the heist plot. The direction is top notch, with touches of noir style in every frame: faces dimly lit in the shadows are a recurring motif here, and it's quite enjoyable to see. A really good movie.
UPDATED: December 4, 2016
The Criterion Collection is a video distribution company that sells "important classic and contemporary films" in…