The Asphalt Jungle (1950) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Asphalt Jungle1950

The Asphalt Jungle (1950)




Critic Consensus: The Asphalt Jungle is an expertly told crime story with attention paid to the crime and characters in equal measure.

The Asphalt Jungle Photos

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 finance his dream of owning a horse farm. Hunch-backed cafe owner (James Whitmore) is hired on to be the driver for the heist; professional safecracker Louis Ciavelli (Anthony Caruso) assembles the tools of his trade; and a bookie (Marc Lawrence) acts as Emmerich's go-between. The robbery is pulled off successfully, but an alert night watchman shoots Ciavelli. Corrupt cop (Barry Kelley), angry that his "patsy" (Lawrence) didn't let him in on the caper, beats the bookie into confessing and fingering the other criminals involved. From this point on, the meticulously planned crime falls apart with the inevitability of a Greek tragedy. Way down on the cast list is Marilyn Monroe in her star-making bit as Emmerich's sexy "niece"; whenever The Asphalt Jungle would be reissued, Monroe would figure prominently in the print ads as one of the stars. The Asphalt Jungle was based on a novel by the prolific W.R. Burnett, who also wrote Little Caesar and Saint Johnson (the fictionalized life story of Wyatt Earp).

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Sterling Hayden
as Dix Handley
Louis Calhern
as Alonzo D. Emmerich
Jean Hagen
as Doll Conovan
James Whitmore
as Gus Ninissi
Sam Jaffe
as Doc Erwin Riedenschneider
John McIntire
as Police Commissioner
Barry Kelley
as Lt. Ditrich
Anthony Caruso
as Louis Ciavelli
Teresa Celli
as Maria Ciavelli
Marilyn Monroe
as Angela Phinlay
Dorothy Tree
as May Emmerich
Brad Dexter
as Bob Brannon
John Maxwell
as Dr. Swanson
James Seay
as Janocek
Thomas Browne Henry
as James X. Connery
Alex Gerry
as Maxwell
Don Haggerty
as Andrews
Raymond Roe
as Tallboy
Henry Rowland
as Franz Schurz
Ralph Dunn
as Policeman
Pat Flaherty
as Policeman
Jack Shea
as Policeman
John Cliff
as Policeman
Ray Teal
as Policeman
Frank Cady
as Night Clerk
Strother Martin
as Karl Anton Smith
Henry Corden
as William Doldy
Benny Burt
as Driver
Fred Graham
as Truck Driver
Alberto Morin
as Eddie Donato
Howard Mitchell
as Secretary
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Critic Reviews for The Asphalt Jungle

All Critics (30) | Top Critics (1)

John Huston's greatest noir thriller.

June 24, 2006 | Full Review…

Deep in those shadows within the seedy underbelly of the city lies some of the most engrossing cinema ever made.

October 31, 2018 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

a cracking-good crime story almost perfectly told

June 13, 2017 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

... essentially launched the heist film as a genre of its own and set the blueprint that all subsequent heist dramas built upon.

January 27, 2017 | Full Review…

The characters are no mere cold symbolic avatars in a world gone stylistic; Huston breaks down that intellectual barrier, and allows the characters to shine in all their glorious dumb pathos.

January 25, 2017 | Full Review…

This is among the most generally influential American films of the 1950s.

June 5, 2016 | Rating: 9/10 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Asphalt Jungle


What makes this classic noir/heist film so engrossing is the deliberate and unemotional way it takes us through the minutiae of a plan that involves a large group of characters, and even more interesting is how it manages to keep these characters as its primary focus.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

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.

Tsubaki Sanjuro
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.

Bob O'Reilly
Bob O'Reilly

Super Reviewer

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