The Asphalt Jungle - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Asphalt Jungle Reviews

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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.
February 19, 2014
A great film perhaps let down a little by it's moralising conclusion which feels very much of its time. Other than that this is crime film noir at its very best with some cracking performances. If you haven't seen it then I guarantee you're in for a treat.
January 22, 2014
If you are the person who often finds himself for the underdog, then this classic is for you.
September 7, 2013
Sometimes, men get greedy.

A brilliant crime boss just released from prison has a wonderful scheme to steal $1,000,000. He recruits several hoodlums with solid credentials to help in the robbery; unfortunately, backstabbing and treachery is a misstep away in every direction for this group. At first, everything goes as planned; but when the plans begin to fall apart, can the team stick together?

"He doesn't have enough blood left in him to keep a chicken alive."

John Huston, director of The Maltese Falcon, The African Queen, The Treasure of Sierra Madre, The Man Who Would be King, Prizzi's Honor, Annie (1982), and Moulin Rouge (1952), delivers The Asphalt Jungle. The storyline for this picture is entertaining and unfolds in a chaotic but entertaining manner. The acting is very good and the cast includes Sterling Hayden, Louis Calhern, Jean Hagen, and James Whitmore.

"I made a mistake. Don't you ever make a mistake."

I DVR'd the Asphalt Jungle off Turner Classic Movies (TCM) during a John Huston marathon. I have been a fan of Huston's work and decided to give this a shot. The story contains an entertaining blend of unpredictable characters and solid action scenes. This isn't my favorite Huston picture, but this is definitely worth your time.

"Money makes me sweat."

Grade: B+
July 20, 2013
This is a fantastic film noir full of shady characters, corrupt cops, and lawyers. Sam Jaffe plays Doc Reidenscheider, a smallish but shrewd looking crook just released after spending 7 years in prison. He meets with a bookie who arranges a meeting with a corrupt lawyer played by Louis Calhern to see if he will fence this well-planned score. Doc has a plan for a jewlery heist that involves a driver, a safecracker and a hooligan. After reaching an agrement with the lawyer, Emmerich, Doc uses his bookie to find the men for the job. Sterling Hayden plays Dix Handley who is hemorrhaging money from betting on horses that he gets from robbing banks. He has plans to return to Kentucky with his girl to rescue a horse farm that his father lost during the Depression. After all the members are recruited for the job, they are ready to go. The heist goes down and there is a great, seven minute part of the job in complete silence. Unfortunately, the safecracker's explosives on the safe sets off other alarms in banks in the area. This alerts the police, and when Dix punches a security cop, he drops the gun and shoots the safecracker in the gut as they are leaving. Now they police are after them, but things are still going okay. Emmerich the attorney has hired an private detective to collect on his debts because he too, like Dix, is flat broke. He has no way to fence the deal he promised to fence. Instead of fessing up, he plans a double cross with his private detective. The gang overpower the dick and he's killed in a short fight. At this point everyone has to split up. Doc starts to head north to Cleveland, the safecracker is dying from his wound and Dix is leaving for Kentucky with his girl, having been wounded by a gunshot wound. Doc takes a cab to get out of town, but on the way they stop at a restaurant. There he gets entranced by a young girl dancing to the jukebox. As he leers on, he continues to feed her money for the jukebox to keep dancing. During this time the police find him and arrest him outside. Dix and his girl make it to Kentucky. Dix stumbles out of his car into a horse pasture, only to collapse and die from his wounds.
July 16, 2013
Great caper film!!! (One of my favorite movies)
Super Reviewer
June 15, 2013
By far one of the most influential films to emerge from the film noir genre, "The Asphalt Jungle" is gritty, thrilling and exceptionally-directed by John Huston. Also, Sterling Hayden and Sam Jaffe are at the top of their game as well as the rest of the cast. The black-and-white cinematography is glorious and the writing provides each character with incredible depth, making the scenes where their lives are endangered even more gripping.
Super Reviewer
April 6, 2013
as intricate as you want for a robbery reel. the acting's solid & barely perceptively beyond in some cases. the script isnt too impressive, i was left feeling impassive at stages. the direction was average and the themes make it irrelevant as none of the characters are likeable. maybe it hasnt carried well over the years because if its point was an intention to be gritty it just came off bland. not a classic but perhaps an inspirational blueprint or reference point for future directors to take from. worth watching once
February 27, 2013
Definitely one of my all time favourite heist movies
½ February 27, 2013
Seminal schmeminal, it bored the crap out of me and had no real leading characters
January 6, 2013
A thief just out of prison and seemingly retired decides to have another go and reunites his old gang to make one last hit. Huston‚??s film is filled with suspense and Hayden is quite memorable as the film‚??s lead. It also went on to serve as a blueprint to many films of the same kind, most notably Kubrick‚??s masterpiece The Killing, and is notable for an early Marilyn Monroe appearance in a supporting role.
Super Reviewer
½ December 26, 2012
Seldom credited for unleashing the noir style of Jules Dassin and the plot artifacts of Melville, Huston's underrated crime classic is a stylish delivery for the early 50s, double-crossing and suspense at its finest: "a left-handed form of human endeavor".

December 16, 2012
A lot familiar faces. The ambassador in Duck Soup, Brooks from Shawshank, that whore who dated Joe Dimaggio. Also Sterling Hayden who I only know from the Godfather..spectacualr performance by the way no one can get shot in the throat and forehead and show so much emotion like he can. The whole tone of the movie was great. Just mean. My favorite line I've heard in a while is "Experience has taught me never to trust a policeman. Just when you think one's all right, he turns legit'"
November 27, 2012
Good, but don't remember it very well.
September 5, 2012
After two misadventures with Huston‚(TM)s more recent films PRIZZI‚(TM)S HONOR (1985, 5/10) and THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING (1975, 5/10), I turned to his earlier canons to find some redeemed compensation, THE ASPHALT JUNGLE, a Black % White film-noir, scrupulously delves into the ramifications of a bank stick-up in the 1930s depression period of America, which is executed by a slew of criminals whose ill-fated predestination will indubitably resonate after 60 years, since fortunately we haven‚(TM)t been evolving much and its neo-realistic aesthetics is still sitting comfily in the appreciative zone.

For me, since I am oft more intrigued by the narrative arc than the comprehensive mise-en-scene a director concocts (at least in this present period), the film excels itself in founding its empathy on several well-depicted characters. Sterling Hayden, the first-billed star of the film, equivocally the leading man among the motley crew, is not the brain, but a trustworthy hooligan, suitably amplifying his simplistic kindheartedness by exposing himself to his girl friend (the moderately-used Jean Hagen) of his stroke of bad luck and his humble-but-never-realized dream (which Huston cleverly opts as the heart-rending culmination) under the veneer of his stalwart physique.

Sam Jaffe, who acquired his one and only Oscar nomination (the film altogether got 4 nominations including a BEST DIRECTOR for Huston) for the role of Doc, the constantly behind-the-wall mastermind, has another sort of fatalistic empathy through his non-violent, genteel policy which is simply the otherness for a perpetrator, he is a born leader, who welds a collection of gifted offenders into a real team, the only thing he misses it luck. Louis Calhern, the paymaster and the fence, ostensibly well-off, but bankrupted, is the major mis-step of the heist, Calhern‚(TM)s commonly understated performance finds the right place as he is juggling between his wife and his trophy mistress (a 24-year-old Monroe, whose striking sheen cannot be overlooked even in such a minor role).

The film is feasibly an agitprop of police department, although the coppers are neither over-beautified nor disparaging represented (unlike the present mockery trend), it emits a pertinent point-of-view of their functions and liabilities, Huston is the torchbearer of the American neorealism, and I hope this assertion can stand its ground.
½ September 4, 2012
Marilyn Monroe has a minor role in John Huston's "The Asphalt Jungle," being an unknown at the time; but as you watch her, you wish the whole one hour and fifty-two minutes screened only her. The noir is about a group of men, including Sterling Hayden as a hoodlum, planning and accomplishing a jewel robbery. Like, "Beat the Devil" and "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre," it is not great, but moderately well made. Maybe the most compelling sequence is where Erwin "Doc" Riedenschneider, the mastermind behind robbery, is enchanted by a young girl, while he is trying to escape with a taxi driver. I also admired the performance of Louis Calhern, who recites the best quote of the film: "After all, crime is only... a left-handed form of human endeavor." Sterling Hayden is his usual self; however he does not always fair well as a man possessed with (Tarkovsky's?) nostalgia. I don't think he was ever that kind actor; being able to display dense emotions genuinely, nevertheless he was affective to a certain extent. So, "The Asphalt Jungle" is a good noir. It doesn't reach the heights of "The Maltese Falcon," nor does any other film of John Huston.
August 30, 2012
The best laid the saying goes, a minute here or a what if there it all comes tumbling down as a house of cards. A gripping noire film of a jewel heist that goes wrong and once the first slip up happens the rest follows suit until the gang are all caught or killed. Sam Jaffe plays "Doc" a just released criminal mastermind who has come up with a plan for a big jewel heist. Like Oceans 11 he recruits the best in the area to help him out, a driver, the safecracker, the muscle, and the fence. Problems start during the burglary when the safecracker gets shot and they shoot the guard who discovers the crime in progress. After that we follow a corrupt cop, Barry Kelly as Lt. Ditrich, follows up the crime with revenge on his mind. Sterling Hayden is Dix Handley, the muscle, who wants this to be his last job and live a life of quite "retirement" with his girl. Of course this wont happen and it is a matter of time before all are caught. Also noted for one of the first screen appearances of Marilyn Monroe who plays the mistress of the fence. A perfect film in B&W to enhance the grime of the subject.
August 29, 2012
John Huston delivers a classic noir caper in The Asphalt Jungle. It has already been hailed a masterpiece and selected for the Library of Congress for preservation. This is a rare look into the lives of many charismatic individuals. What unveils is possibly Huston's best work.

A jewelry heist is formulated and sprung into action by an eccentric ex-con played by Sam Jaffe and among others ensnared in the mix is the ever dominating Sterling Hayden. Although he shares the spotlight with Jaffe and Louis Calhern, he shines as bright as ever. Hayden went on to start the crucial chain of events that we saw unfold in Dr. Strangelove and he also gave potent performances in such classics as The Godfather and The Killing. He is a giant leading actor and therefore dominating the screen seems to come easy for the actor. Many of his scenes are him showing his strength but also confessing his depth (he speaks of retiring to his deceased father's land, full of horses and mainly peace).

The story is expertly led by Huston in the director's seat and it packs a punch that not only leaves a mark but it is also strategically placed. This is not a shoot 'em up crime thriller, it has a brain and offers a distinct human side to crime noir. I absolutely love the final closing scenes, they really captivate the art of the time and the brilliance of the entire film concept. The creativity, overall details, and especially the final frames make this a landmark film. It is not a moment too soon, it feels right on time as it paces towards the finish line. 5/5

***Updated after 2nd viewing on 8/29/12***
½ August 15, 2012
This movie got much better as it went along. Although it was necessary to let the audience in on the heist as if they were participating in it, there was just a lot of exposition; just talking and more talking. I could've probably not paid attention to any of it and then just came back when the heist comes about. The only really important part was when Emmerich talks about what he's going to do since he's in debt. Some of it was interesting, but it was boring at times. The depiction of the actual heist was well done, as it was enjoyable and had some tense moments, and the movie just got better from there for many reasons. The acting isn't great, with a few exceptions; Sterling Hayden, as he did in The Killing and Dr. Strangelove, plays the same character. I thought the guy who played Cobby wasn't that good. I thought Sam Jaffe did a good job at playing the Doc (even though in the beginning his accent got a little too heavy at times), James Whitmore did good, and honestly, I don't get the big deal about Marilyn Monroe in this movie. Yeah, this was one of her first big movies, but she wasn't in it very much, and even when she was her acting wasn't great. Although I did think she did a pretty good job during the testifying scene, if she was anyone else, I wouldn't have paid much attention to her. That part was good acting, but not great. She had some growing up to do. The ending was alright. I'll give the film credit for making the audience care about the criminals getting away with it, but then you get mixed up because you end up wanting the police to catch them, but at the same time you still want the criminals to get away with it, so props to this film for that. In addition, great black and white cinematography. This is my second John Huston film (after Treasure of the Sierra Madre; which I loved) and it was a good film noir that's worth watching.
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