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 Riedenschneider is first led back into Cobby's back room, there are three men visible through the door when it opens. When he gets into the room, they are nowhere to be seen. See more »
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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