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The Asphalt Jungle (1950)

A major heist goes off as planned, until bad luck and double crosses cause everything to unravel.

Director:

John Huston

Writers:

Ben Maddow (screen play), John Huston (screen play) | 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 5 wins & 10 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Sterling Hayden ... Dix Handley
Louis Calhern ... Alonzo D. Emmerich
Jean Hagen ... Doll Conovan
James Whitmore ... Gus Minissi
Sam Jaffe ... Doc Erwin Riedenschneider
John McIntire ... Police Commissioner Hardy
Marc Lawrence ... Cobby
Barry Kelley ... Lt. Ditrich
Anthony Caruso ... Louis Ciavelli
Teresa Celli ... Maria Ciavelli
Marilyn Monroe ... Angela Phinlay
William 'Wee Willie' Davis ... Timmons (as William Davis)
Dorothy Tree ... May Emmerich
Brad Dexter ... Bob Brannom
John Maxwell ... Dr. Swanson
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Storyline

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

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The City Under the City


Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | German

Release Date:

1 June 1950 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Asphalt Jungle (The City Under the City) See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,232,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$1,077,000, 31 December 1950

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$2,137,000, 31 December 1950
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

All of the dialogue spoken by Alberto Morin, who played Eddie Donato, was dubbed in by another actor--probably because Morin, who was born in Puerto Rico, had a pronounced Puerto Rican accent and Eddie Donato was supposed to be Italian. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Doc Riedenschneider: That copper, he recognized me.
Cobby: How'd you know he was a copper?
Doc Riedenschneider: I can smell one a block off.
Cobby: Oh, don't worry about Ditrich. He's on my payroll. Practically a partner. Me and him, we're like that.
[Cobby holds up his index and middle finger]
Doc Riedenschneider: Experience has taught me never to trust a policeman. Just when you think one's all right, he turns legit.
See more »

Alternate Versions

Also available in a computer colorized version. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Killer contro killers (1985) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Experience has taught me never to trust a policeman. Just when you think one's all right, he turns legit.
26 August 2010 | by SpikeopathSee all my reviews

Out of MGM, The Asphalt Jungle is directed by John Huston and based on the novel of the same name by W.R. Burnett. It stars Sterling Hayden, Jean Hagen, Sam Jaffe, Louis Calhern, James Whitmore, Teresa Celli, and in a minor but important role, Marilyn Monroe. Miklós Rózsa scores the music and Harold Rosson photographs it in black & white. Plot sees Erwin "Doc" Riedenschneider (Jaffe) leave prison and quickly assemble a gang to execute a long in gestation jewellery heist. However, with suspicion rife and fate waiting to take a hand, the carefully constructed caper starts to come apart at the seams.

John Huston liked a tough movie, having given film noir in America a jump start with The Maltese Falcon in 1941, he also that same year adapted W.R. Burnett's novel High Sierra. Burnett also had on his CV crime classic stories Little Caesar & Scarface, so it's no surprise that Huston was drawn to The Asphalt Jungle. As it turned out, it was a match made in gritty urban heaven.

The Asphalt Jungle was one of the first crime films to break with convention and tell its story from the side of the criminals. Where once the pursuing law officers/private detectives were the heavy part of the plotting, now under Huston's crafty guidance we have a study in crime and a daring for us to empathise with a bunch of criminals/villains/anti-heroes. As a group the gang consists of very differing characters yet they have a common bond, they strive for a better life. Be it Hayden's luggish Dix who dreams of buying back his father's horse ranch back in Kentucky, or Jaffe's Doc who wants to retire to Mexico and surround himself with girls: it's greed and yearning that binds them together. With alienation and bleakness, in true film noir traditions, featuring heavily as the plot (and gang) unravels.

With gritty dialogue and oozing a naturalistic feel, it's also no surprise that Huston's movie would go on to influence a ream of similar type films. Some good, some bad, but very few of them have been able to capture the suspense that is wrung out for the actual heist sequence here. Fabulous in its authenticity, and with that out of the way, it sets the decaying tone for the rest of the piece. Interesting to note that although we are now firmly in the lives of the "gang", including their respective women (Hagen, Monroe & Celli all shining in what is a very macho movie), we still know that the society outside of their circle is hardly nice either. This is stripped down brutalistic film noir. Merciless to its characters and thriving on ill fate, with a finale that is as perfect as it gets in this most wonderful of film genres. 9.5/10


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