The Asphalt Jungle - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Asphalt Jungle Reviews

Page 1 of 20
½ August 5, 2017
This textbook example of how a major jewelry heist comes together and then falls apart afterward from director John Huston excels in presenting the little details. Indeed, it is those human frailties (which may not be unique to the criminal class) that sow the seeds of destruction. We follow Sterling Hayden from start to finish, as he escapes from the law after another in a string of petty knockovers, meeting up with mastermind Sam Jaffe and financial backers bookie Marc Lawrence and lawyer Louis Calhern, then the job itself and its aftermath. Hayden just wants to get some dough to go back to his old Kentucky home where his folks raised racehorses (but he keeps blowing it all at the track). He doesn't seem to notice that clip joint girl Jean Hagen loves him, but she keeps hanging around. It turns out that Calhern is broke and keen to doublecross the gang by taking the jewels and fleeing to Mexico. He's got an apartment set up for mistress Marilyn Monroe while his ill wife pines away for his company. Calhern is the biggest heel in the picture, although things really unravel due to the unfortunate but pragmatic relationship between one of the gang and a corrupt cop being squeezed by the police commissioner. The commissioner himself gets the final word, telling us that the cops are the only thing standing between ordinary people and the predators of the (asphalt) jungle. In the end, I didn't have that sense of existential collapse that you find in Rififi or the works of Jean-Pierre Melville, the bittersweet feeling of predictable loss; instead we get a more matter-of-fact rendering that nevertheless is revealing in its portrayal of the human condition.
August 5, 2017
Huston is one of my favorite directors. I enjoy 'Heist' films greatly. Noir is fine too. Classic or not, it took me 4 attempts to sit through this. On the final viewing I was no more engaged than before. Talky and boring. For me the problem is that I think of 'heist' and 'noir' as two entirely different genres. In heist, i expect some fun and desire to be part of it all. In noir i expect to be caught up in twisting dark and desperate characters. If you want great noir I'd go to Double Indemnity. If you want heist I'd go to Topkapi.
I got through this. Thats about it.
March 13, 2017
Great twist-n-turn noir. Sterling Hayden playing nearly himself, as always.
July 10, 2016
Jean Pierre Melville called "the most influental film in history" and in his genre he was right. The influence of The Asphalt Jungle is obvious in all great heist movie from The Killing to Reservoir Dogs, especially in the films of Melville and Michael Mann. The directing is modesty and moderate and Sam Jaffe' Riedenschneider is still the most interesting and unique character in any crime film.
Super Reviewer
May 30, 2016
John Huston's classic film noir masterpiece is one of the greatest crime films of all-time. It concerns the master jewel thief Ewin "Doc" Riedenschneider, played sensationally by Sam Jaffe who has just been released from prison, and has a brilliant plan for a heist of a million dollars in jewels. Doc is introduced to a crooked rich lawyer named Alonzo Emmerich, played superbly by Louis Calhern who offers to finance the heist and immediately buy the stolen gems after the burglary, but Emmerich is broke and really does not have the money to buy the gems, he hopes to coerce the gems from Doc and his group under the false pretense that he will fence them, this of course will lead to a deadly conclusion. Master direction by Huston, with brilliant supporting performances by Sterling Hayden as the tough, old school gunman, James Whitmore as the hunchback getaway driver, Anthony Caruso as the expert safe-cracker, Brad Dexter as Emmerich's seedy henchman, and Marilyn Monroe as Emmerich's young smoking hot squeeze. An evocative score by Mikos Rosa, with stylishly stunning black & white cinematography by Harold Rosson. This cinematic classic has often been copied, but never equaled! Highly Recommended.
February 14, 2016
Not a bad robbery heist noir. But just remember, crime doesn't pay!
January 12, 2016
One of the more finely tuned crime sagas with plenty of character behind it, but lacking in some of the actors and dialogue.
July 7, 2015
Clever and stylish movie. Keeps you interested the whole way through. Sterling is very good as are most of the actors. And its interesting to see Marilyn Monroes debut. Good classic Movie. Watch it
June 26, 2015
This bleak crime noir about a jewel heist that goes sour is gritty, gripping, & Huston's best. Forget the better known Falcon, the Jungle is where it's at.
May 14, 2015
Starring Sterling Hayden, Louis Calhern, Jean Hagen, James Whitmore and Sam Jaffe. Different kind of noir from director John Huston, this heist film eschews the claustrophobic environments of his earlier films "The Maltese Falcon" and "Key Largo" in favor of an open style of framing that incorporates the city as an important character in this story. Of the story, it is the tale of a group of desperate criminals who botch a jewellery store robbery. This is also notable as among the first films of its type to tell its story completely from the perspective of the criminals. This differentiates it from earlier crime films like "The Public Enemy" or "Scareface", whose criminals are typically compelling but one-dimensional cut-outs. Marilyn Monroe gets an early role as Louis Calhern's mistress.
February 26, 2015
Great film noir heist-drama by master-director John Huston. A movie that surely influenced Stanley Kubrick (the Killing, which came 6 years later feels so similar, and not just for the common presence of Sterling Hayden), and ultimately directors like Marin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino.

Solid plot. Good set up, introducing the main characters, the plan...and then we see how it unfolds.

From the word go Huston creates a seedy, moody, fatalistic atmosphere. The use of black & white goes a long way to creating this atmosphere.

However, while the pacing and focus is spot-on for the first 60% of the movie, it does feel like it drifts a bit towards the end. Too many unnecessary detours, or lingering on certain scenes.

Solid performances all round. Interesting to note the appearance of an early-career Marilyn Monroe, in a not-insignificant, but not major, supporting role.
½ February 22, 2015
Total corn ball. Populated by Hollywood actors trying to act tough. The worst acting i can remember. Who's kidding who? John Huston has made some turkeys and this is one of them. Couldn't sit through it. Don't bother.
January 20, 2015
I kind of prefer this to Rififi given that it came before and instead of being shot and set in trendy Paris, it's a brutal urban ruin. Perfect photography.
January 20, 2015
I find the relationship between "Doll" & "Dix" fascinating. I want so badly for them to find there way to happiness. Of course, it is not to be, but, each time I view this film I grieve for "Doll." She is so close here to finding the window out and to a regular life. She can see it, but, "Dix" cannot. She loves him, but, he does not love her. He is sadly incapable of love. Completely lost in his past. And this hurts mightily to bear witness. I am graveled by Jean Hagen's performance. It is a stunning achievement. I also enjoy the relationship between "Emmerich" and his bed ridden wife. At one time they were a close couple, now, there is nothing. It is all gone. She admonishes her lost husband for his dealings with this criminal element. His answer: "It's a left handed form of human endeavor."

Yep.
½ January 4, 2015
With too many characters, most of which forgettable, standard, uninvolving and tired story and lack of emotional connection or investment, The Asphalt Jungle has absolutely nothing about it that stands out as great. The direction is so-so, the plot is not engaging and nothing new, the characters are boring and it is consequently a mediocre and pretty overrated movie and one of the most forgettable noir films.
½ November 26, 2014
The Asphalt Jungle is a film about a simple jewel heist, and how a couple of unlucky breaks can completely unravel the best-laid plans. One of my biggest complaints is that this movie takes WAY too long to get us to the robbery. In fact, I must confess that I fell asleep the first 3 times I tried starting The Asphalt Jungle. I've been spoiled by modern heist movies (like Ocean's Eleven,) and so I've grown accustomed to a much more interesting method of organizing the team and preparing for the job. Here it was a lot of talking, and very little of that conversation was good for character development or even setting up the crime. However the movie turns on a dime once the heist happens. The actual robbery itself isn't all that complex, and most modern movie-goers would call it downright dull, but the fallout from that crime is what makes the movie worth watching. I know, based on the Hollywood code of the time, that no one was getting away with the crime but watching the slow downfall of the team is extremely interesting. It's great to see how the different vices of the characters play a part in their demise. I enjoyed most of the acting performances, and it was fun to see some familiar faces early in their careers. I don't think I'll ever seek out The Asphalt Jungle again, but I did appreciate what it did in that second half, and I am happy that it laid the groundwork that made some of our modern heist films a reality.
November 5, 2014
I found myself openly rooting for the sympathetic characters and shaking my clenched fist at the ones who truly had black hearts!
½ July 24, 2014
(First and only viewing - 4/3/2010)
½ June 25, 2014
This movie is so good, Marilyn isn't even the best part.
Page 1 of 20