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The Asphalt Jungle (1950)


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Average Rating: N/A
Critic Reviews: 1
Fresh: 1 | Rotten: 0



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Average Rating: 3.9/5
User Ratings: 6,675

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Movie Info

The Asphalt Jungle is a brilliantly conceived and executed anatomy of a crime -- or, as director John Huston and scripter Ben Maddow put it, "a left-handed form of human endeavor." Recently paroled master criminal Erwin "Doc" Riedenschneider (Sam Jaffe), with funding from crooked attorney Emmerich (Louis Calhern), gathers several crooks together in Cincinnati for a Big Caper. Among those involved are Dix (Sterling Hayden), an impoverished hood who sees the upcoming jewel heist as a means to


Drama, Classics

Ben Maddow, John Huston

Jul 6, 2004


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All Critics (27) | Top Critics (3) | Fresh (24) | Rotten (1) | DVD (7)

John Huston's greatest noir thriller.

June 24, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

One of the first films to depict crime from the POV of the deviants rather than the police, this seminal film (arguably Huston's best) had a huge influence on the genre, manifest in the early work of Kubrick--and decades later Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs

April 29, 2007 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com

This tale of a jewel theft gone wrong is notable for its gritty procedural detail and an emphasis on the inner lives of the small time crooks, expertly played by Sterling Hayden and Sam Jaffe.

November 11, 2006 Full Review Source: BBC

One of The Asphalt Jungle's strengths is that the crims seem about as thick as you suspect they would be in real life: no Cruise or Clooney-style braniac super-athletes here.

November 4, 2006 Full Review Source: Guardian [UK]
Guardian [UK]

A preeminent example of tough-guy cinema.

May 3, 2005 Full Review Source: Lessons of Darkness
Lessons of Darkness

Rogue's Gallery noir classic.

April 6, 2005

High-end noir in a low-end world.

November 16, 2004
Bangor Daily News (Maine)

Noirish Huston classic with great story, cast.

October 30, 2004

One of the first caper films told from the criminal's viewpoint.

July 21, 2004 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Huston concentrates mostly on the film's performances, but like The Maltese Falcon and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, he uses space, shadow and a very clever mise-en-scene to physically illustrate the film's themes.

July 20, 2004 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

Among John Huston's most overrated works, only partially redeemed by Jaffe's brilliance and Marilyn's cameo.

August 14, 2003 | Comment (1)
Nick's Flick Picks

Often copied but never equaled.

July 30, 2003 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

They don't get more noir than this.

April 27, 2003
Killer Movie Reviews

Solid, entertaining film noir.

February 28, 2002 Full Review Source: Goatdog's Movies
Goatdog's Movies

Huston at his best

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source:

Huston as director is in his prime, utilising the script and the acting talent to their fullest.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source:

The Asphalt Jungle (1950) is a naturalistic film noir crime film classic of the early 1950s from director John Huston

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Tim Dirks' The Greatest Films
Tim Dirks' The Greatest Films

Audience Reviews for The Asphalt Jungle

I was expecting Dix to start talking about our precious bodily fluids at any moment. Like other noirs, it inspired far better movies, and this one gets a bit too preachy regarding the "greater good" of the police and what not. Ok flick, not Huston's best.
December 21, 2011
Tsubaki Sanjuro

Super Reviewer

John Huston's highly influential heist/noir The Asphalt Jungle resonates so profoundly because of the way its director invests each crew member with personality and motivation. A low-life hooligan with the heart of a farmboy (Sterling Hayden), a German career-con who's really a romantic with a penchant for senoritas, and safe-crackin new father, team up for a jewel caper. Of course crime doesn't pay, but when a film's lawless hoods are as human as these you sure as hell wish it did.
March 12, 2011
Bob O'Reilly

Super Reviewer

Huston's 1950 Noir about a jewel heist is an incredibly captivating film. Normally when I hear a film described as being about a heist, my mind immediately turns to the myriad examples of bad films centered around a them. For example: Entrapment, The Heist, The Score, Soul Plane
However, much like he in the Treasure of the Sierra Madre, he creates fully realized characters that allow this film to soar high above it's heist film cohorts.

The film centers around a million dollar jewel heist. Sam Jaffe plays Doc Erwin, a criminal mastermind who has been released from prison and is planning another big score. Through a local bookie, he pulls together a group of criminals to get the job done. While the above could summarize many different films, I assure you there is nothing like The Asphalt Jungle.

The film utilizes the POV of the criminals to tell the story. Yet, unlike Reservoir Dogs which some people have equated this film with, this isn't just an hour and a half full of slick dialogue. While they may partake in criminal activities, Huston gives us the people behind the criminal actions. A fantastic Sterling Hayden desires to get money not so he can fund more criminal endeavors, he wants to buy back his families farm that he lost in the Great Depression. The safe cracker Louis wants to support his wife and his kids. Huston does an incredible job of letting the viewer empathize with these characters by letting us see their lives away from planning and executing the job. Huston shows the audience that crime isn't always driven by malice, crime is sometimes just a part of life. Louis Calhern sums this notion up best in the film when he states: "After all, crime is only... a left-handed form of human endeavor..."
While Huston doesn't vilify the criminals, he doesn't deify the cops either. For the most part they are crooked and although they exclaim that they do not want to let the "beasts rule the jungle", they often stand shoulder to shoulder with the brutes.

It is a simply marvelous & thought-provoking film. If Huston keeps this up he will keep moving up on my list of astounding directors.
March 2, 2011
Reid Volk

Super Reviewer

Sort of interesting, but mostly an average film noir type movie. It's not bad, but it didn't grab my interest much either.
October 26, 2010

Super Reviewer

    1. Alonzo D. Emmerich: After all crime is just the left handed form of human endeavor.
    – Submitted by John L (9 months ago)
    1. Doc Erwin Riedenschneider: One way or another, we all work for our vice.
    – Submitted by Kate S (2 years ago)
View all quotes (2)

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Foreign Titles

  • Asphalt-Dschungel (DE)
  • Quand la ville dort (FR)
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