A private eye escapes his past to run a gas station in a small town, but his past catches up with him. Now he must return to the big city world of danger, corruption, double crosses and duplicitous dames.
When the intelligent criminal Erwin "Doc" Riedenschneider is released from prison, he seeks a fifty thousand-dollar investment from the bookmaker Cobby to recruit a small gang of specialists for a million-dollar heist of jewels from a jewelry. Doc is introduced to the lawyer Alonzo D. Emmerich that offers to finance the whole operation and buy the gems immediately after the burglary. Doc hires the safecracker Louis Ciavelli, the driver Gus Minissi and the gunman Dix Handley to the heist. His plan works perfectly but bad luck and betrayals compromise the steps after the heist and the gangsters need to flee from the police. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
At least two versions exist as to how Marilyn Monroe came to be cast in the film. One has an employee of MGM's talent department suggesting that John Huston try out Monroe, with Huston immediately recognizing her as perfect for the role after her sensual audition. Another version, as supported by MGM archives, has Monroe as a "dark horse" contender for the role. Huston had reportedly already chosen blond actress Lola Albright for the role. When a very nervous Monroe auditioned for the part, Huston was not impressed. However, Albright had recently found success with a supporting role in Champion (1949), so it was unlikely she would accept a small role in a crime melodrama. Huston tested eight other starlets, but Monroe stayed in the running, mainly because of the persistence of MGM talent director Lucille Ryman Carroll. Huston remained adamant that Monroe wouldn't fit the bill, until Carroll prevailed by taking advantage of an ironic coincidence. See more »
When the police enter Gus's diner, he turns the volume of the music up, but oddly he does it by turning the dial anticlockwise, which would normally turn volume down. When they go, Gus turns the volume down, again turning the dial anticlockwise. See more »
Police Commissioner Hardy:
People are being cheated, robbed, murdered, raped. And that goes on 24 hours a day, every day in the year. And that's not exceptional, that's usual. It's the same in every city in the modern world. But suppose we had no police force, good or bad. Suppose we had... just silence. Nobody to listen, nobody to answer. The battle's finished. The jungle wins. The predatory beasts take over.
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I hadn't seen The Asphalt Jungle for nearly 30 years until tonight, I think I must have (wrongly) considered it to be a "modern film", ie post rock'n'roll and dismissed it as too earthy as a result. Well I was wrong, it's certainly a Golden Age film made with high production values, with all the right actors, direction, music and story the Golden Age had produced. The music especially links it back to Double Indemnity and of course Huston to The Maltese Falcon, Jaffe to Lost Horizon etc. It was simply a signpost to the type of films to come , the ones I avoid.
It's gritty, as realistic as a gritty fantasy could be in 1950, as realistic as I want. The multi character interplay sticks in the mind, everyone's grafting and ready to dump on the next guy, apart from The Hooligan who dumb as he is really has a heart. It's Sam Jaffe's film though, his calculating but flawed dirty old man character was a classic perv-ormance, nowadays we would not have been spared the sleaze, but he walked a fine line successfully.
And again, the sleazy relationship between Uncle Louis Calhern and young Marilyn Monroe was perfectly handled.
All in all a marvellous film from the twilight years of the Golden Age.
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