A list of Edgar Wright's favorite 1000 Movies per his list on Mubi on July 27th, 2016.
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…
To be reviewed on Episode #46 of The Immortals...
John Huston’s finest film. Like most of his most notable work, a literary adaptation. But while The Red Badge of Courage, Moby Dick and Reflections in a Golden Eye lacked any means to create a symbolic richness equivalent to that found in the original works, The Asphalt Jungle enriches the original work. The film keeps largely to W.R. Burnett’s plot line, but the characters are fleshed out by their enactments, the scenes gain greater force. I’ve never been a great fan of heist sequences and the central heist is my least favourite part of The Asphalt Jungle, but the build up is excellent: a plan is put together, a series of characters are brought into a series of relationships based…
Nominated for 4 Oscars. While plot elements are comparable to a couple of later films, almost everything about this heist noir works. The only letdown is Marilyn Monroe’s role is merely a brief cameo, and hardly justifies her image on the poster.
Will they or won’t they succeed is what drives the movie to its nail-biting conclusion. The characters are memorable, and I cared about their fate.
"Sounds like a soul in hell."
When legendary burglar Erwin "Doc" Riedenschneider (Stanley Jaffe) is released from prison on parole, he immediately picks up where he left off. He has a plan for a major jewel heist, but he needs to hire a safecracker, a driver and some muscle to get the job done. Bankrolled by a bookie (Marc Lawrence) and a crooked lawyer (Alonzo Emmerich) he acquires the services of driver Gus Minissi (James Whitmore), "box man" Louie Ciavelli (Anthony Caruso) and "hooligan" Dix Handley (Sterling Hayden).
The film unfolds from the point of view of Handley, a down-on-his-luck small-time crook who just wants to return to his native Kentucky and live out his days on a horse ranch. But times are hard, and he…
An interesting, if pretty standard heist movie, its strength lying in the unique casting, including Sterling Hayden as a paid thug, Sam Jeffe as a German ex-pat on the run who masterminded the plan, Louis Calhern as the front man for the job, as well as John McIntire, James Whitmore and a young Marilyn Monroe, among others. The way each character played off each other was fun to watch, and the twists in the plot were entertaining enough.
The Asphalt Jungle keeps its characters in as sharp focus as its visuals and stays as invigorating a heist/noir film as any could expect from the great John Huston.
All the films from all the editions, including those subsequently removed, presently totalling 1177. An easy way of seeing how…
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Note: some films were reviewed twice, once at a film festival and then were…