The Asphalt Jungle - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Asphalt Jungle Reviews

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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.
August 6, 2012
My all-time favorite Film Noir! Magnificent in every way. A rogue's gallery of sundry characters are played by a dream cast! There have been tons of heist films and tons of one-last-score movies. This is the best of both categories. All other films that cover that territory owe everything to John Huston's masterpiece! The final shot is classic in film.
August 6, 2012
"Crime is only a left-handed form of human endeavor."

A criminal named Erwin "Doc" Riedenschneider (Sam Jaffe) is just out of prison with a brilliant plan for a million-dollar jewelry heist he's had in his mind for some years now. Funded by crooked attorney Emmerich (Louis Calhern), Riedenschneider recruits three men for the job, among them is Louis (Anthony Caruso) a professional at cracking safes; Gus (James Whitmore) a hunchbacked bartender as the getaway driver; and Dix (Sterling Hayden) as a strong-arm man to help with the caper. Dix is an impoverished hood who sees the caper as a means to finance his dream of owning a horse farm. Also a bookie named Cobby (Marc Lawrence) acts as Emmerich's go-between. The heist is pulled off successfully, but an alert night watchman shoots Louis. Angry that the bookie didn't let him in on the caper, a corrupt cop (Barry Kelley) beats the bookie into becoming a fink, confessing and fingering the other criminals involved. From here, the painstakingly planned crime falls apart quickly with each member of the gang proving to have his own fatal weakness and each contributing to his own downfall.

Like John Huston's directorial debut, The Maltese Falcon (1941), inventing the film noir genre, he invents the caper/heist genre with The Asphalt Jungle. Much imitated, unlike the many films made after this one, it is less concerned with the plan or the brilliant heist. Instead it is more character driven, exploring deception, relationships and human weaknesses. Like The Maltese Falcon before it, there isn't a whole lot of action in the film allowing the cast the opportunity to fully develop their characters. The cast credits read out like a who‚(TM)s who of great, talented character actors like Sterling Hayden, Louis Calhern, Sam Jaffe (who got an Oscar nomination for playing the mastermind of the heist), and James Whitmore. Also worth mentioning, making her "big break" in the film is Marilyn Monroe in an excellent star-making bit performance as Emmerich's lusty "niece". She‚(TM)s only in the film for a few minutes total but as is evident of the movie poster, she sure made an impression on audiences. John Huston is at his best with his great direction and gets the most out of his cast and the script, he co-wrote with Ben Maddow. Beautifully shot in ominous black and white photography by Oscar nominated Harold Rosson. Influencing many subsequent films such as Jules Dassin's Rififi (1955), Stanley Kubrick's The Killing (1956) (also starring Sterling Hayden in a very similar role), Ocean's Eleven (1960) as well as Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs (1992), The Asphalt Jungle is a classic of the caper film subgenre as well as the film noir genre. And considering it was one of the first films to be told [realistically] through the point of view of the criminals, one can see it‚(TM)s influence reach to gangster films like Goodfellas and Pulp Fiction. The Asphalt Jungle is an essential piece of cinema and comes highly recommended to movie fans that love crime films. 10/10
August 5, 2012
Um filme de golpada está sempre a salvo quando Sterling Hayden à (C) o punho de ferro do gang. Tudo à (C) hipnótico e repleto de classe neste grande John Houston - tanto que nem sequer precisa de grandes twists para manter os níveis de interesse lá no alto. O elenco de character actors à (C) demasiado forte para que o filme precise de twists. Depois da saturação pós-Shyamalan atà (C) à (C) bem agradável ver um filme sem grandes cambalhotas na narrativa. "The Asphalt Jungle" só perde mesmo por comparação com "The Killing", que seis anos depois, aperfeiçoou a fórmula atà (C) um ponto quase insuperável. Mas à (C) quase certo que o segundo não seria tão bom sem ter existido o primeiro.
August 3, 2012
perfect noir from huston and exhibit #1 why hayden is my favorite male actors
July 26, 2012
A perfectly dark and detailed account of a heist-gone-wrong. The Asphalt Jungle is a relatively consuming film noir, with a fantastic ensemble cast and great plot twists. It stays as one of the finest analysis of a seemingly perfect crime. While showing the omnipresent corruption in the decaying world of ours, it also presents how human element can intervene and make one subtle plan collapse in a few minutes.
July 6, 2012
Solid film but I don't think it's quite as great as its reputation.
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