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
John Huston first met Sterling Hayden in Washington, DC, during a protest against the House Un-American Activities Committee investigation of "subversives" in the film industry. When the pair met to discuss the project, Huston said to Hayden, "I've admired you for a long time, Sterling. They don't know what to make of a guy like you in this business." Huston was honest with Hayden about his chance for the lead role. Hayden recounts in his autobiography Huston's pitch: "Now, Sterling, I want you to do this part. The studio does not. They want a top name star. They say you mean nothing when it comes to box-office draw--I told them there aren't five names in this town [that] mean a damn thing at the box office. Fortunately, they're not making this picture. I am. Now let me tell you about Dix Handley . . . Dix is you and me and every other man who can't fit into the groove." Rumored to be fighting severe alcohol and psychiatric problems, Hayden landed the role of Handley, his first major starring role, over the objection of MGM chief Dore Schary. Hayden's gritty performance proved many Hollywood naysayers flat wrong. For instance, Hayden himself was nervous about the climactic scene in the picture, when Dix breaks down in tears in front of Jean Hagen. According to the director, though, Hayden did not have anything to worry about. After the actor delivered the scene beautifully, Huston took Hayden aside and said, "The next time somebody says you can't act, tell them to call Huston." See more »
When Mr. Ciavelli was inside of a long narrow tunnel. He chisels through the thin brick wall of the tunnel and goes inside of a room, and along that same wall is a door leading upstairs. On the other side of the wall, there was no evidence of a door. See more »
No stars and perfect casting make this a masterpiece
I suppose the only reason why this movie can be purchased on video (not on DVD though, it seems) is the fact that Marilyn Monroe plays a part in it. If I am right, this shows how much the movie industry has to rely on big names. Sometimes this is a real shame. No movie proves this better than Asphalt Jungle.
This caper movie is one of my all time favorites and frankly the best of its genre. Its brilliance lies for me in the fact that no big name of the Hollywood acting community was involved Monroe was small fries then. Instead John Huston worked with a cast of reliable, mostly very experienced character actors many people will know as "supports" from numerous other movies of the period. And many of those actors probably gave here the best performances of their lives. Everybody is cast dead right, this is what is so magnificent about Asphalt Jungle. The balance is perfect, the chemistry works all ways. Maybe just one miscast actor or actress would have spoiled the whole atmosphere. No one is overacting at any time, and there are many, many very moving moments as one can observe these characters struggling on the sidelines of urban society.
One is always tempted to name an actress or an actor whose performance one liked best in a movie. Here, I could not do it I liked them all. Yet I want to mention one actor: Louis Calhern. Seldom has a sudden change of mood and countenance in a character had such an impact on me as a viewer.
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