Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Asphalt Jungle (1950)

An Enjoyable Heist Noir

- It is an elaborate jewel heist - thought up, backed up, and carried out by the best in the criminal industry: There is the brains of the operation Doc Erwin Riedenschneider; the money Alonzo D. Emmerich; the driver Gus Minissi; the safe-cracker Louis Ciavelli; and the muscle Dix Handley. Though naturally, whenever you get a group of con men together, they start trying to con each other.

I enjoy The Asphalt Jungle; I am not exactly bowled over by it, but it is an enjoyable film to be certain. The story is good overall and the dialogue is pretty snappy; however, the film has not exactly aged well. Call me immature, but I could not help but snicker as Dix roared "You BONED me!"

The Asphalt Jungle does have a nice look though, with good picture (I especially like the way camera moves) and some big sets. John Huston is one of the best directors in cinema history and does a good job creating the look for the film.

The Asphalt Jungle also features an impressive cast. There is no sole star or main character of the film but Sterling Hayden grabs the spotlight with his performance as the broken-in criminal with high aspirations Dix Handley. Hayden is up to his usual high acting standard (and this performance was very early in his career); however, while Dix is supposed to be from the South, he is curiously minus one Southern accent throughout the film except when he says the word "Kentucky." Still, Hayden makes the role work very well. Dix is the muscle, and Hayden sure looks the part - I sure would not want to get into a rumble with him! There' is not a bad performance in the film but some members of the cast are better than others. Sam Jaffe is real good in his role though as Doc, earning an Academy Award nomination for his performance; Marc Lawerence pops up here with a memorable supporting performance; and Marilyn Monroe is of course stunning on the screen.

Overall, I like The Asphalt Jungle - good story, good look, good cast - not one of Huston's finest efforts but a good film noir nonetheless.

CBC Rating: 7/10

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