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The Asphalt Jungle back to product details

The City Under the City
12345678910
written by eifert August 18, 2004 - 6:04 PM PDT
4 out of 5 members found this review helpful
Back in Film Noir's heyday, films released in this style were considered B-movies. Not in this case. Fresh off his Oscar win for The Treasure of Sierra Madre, Director John Huston took the helm of The Asphalt Jungle. The budget may not have been high, but the cast; sharp dialog and film technique used by Huston is top notch.

TAJ is a caper noir movie. The entire film is shot from the thieves' point of view. Sterling Hayden plays Dix Handley, a real scary bastard. When he shouts "Don't bone me!" to a bookie at the beginning of the movie you can understand why he was hired as the "muscle." Hayden is a mainstay in film noir and he's excellent here. He doesn't seem all that bright. All he seems to care about is the old ranch he grew up on back in his childhood. Between losing money on the ponies and apparently committing small crimes, he and his burger-flipping friend (played by James Whitmore) are hired to help your usual assortment of caper crooks knock over a jewelry store. The heist is great. Shot without music and in real time, Huston not only makes you feel like you're there but you feel like you've just learned how to rob a jewelry store! The great film heist in Rififi was clearly influenced by Asphalt.

The DVD transfer is excellent. USC Cinema History professor Drew Casper provides the commentary. It's only OK. He talks like a professor. Some good information is hidden in there however, as well as some old bites from actor Whitmore. Speaking of Whitmore, did you notice his character's love for cats? Could this jailbird be a younger version of the mouse-loving prisoner Whitmore played years later in Shawshank Redemption? The movie also features an early appearance by Marilyn Monroe in just her seventh film. She never looked better.

Hayden is probably best known by modern film viewers as the scary bastard of a police officer in The Godfather. Can anyone forget Hayden being shot by Michael? His gruesome face twitching while choking on blood will stay with me forever.

Without a doubt, The Asphalt Jungle is a classic. I'm trying not to give away too much of the film, because it's worth the rental. TAJ inspired many heist films including Rififi, The Ladykillers, Odds Against Tomorrow and Hayden's The Killing.

"He hasn't got enough blood left in him to keep a chicken alive."

12345678910

(Average 7.71)
137 Votes
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