The Asphalt Jungle

"Extraordinary"

The Asphalt Jungle Review


Sterling Hayden gets the shaft again in The Asphalt Jungle. This guy goes on caper after caper but he just never ends up with the loot. It always slips right through his hands. Every time.

Jungle is one of Hayden's finest hours, earnest and searing as he finds himself wrapped up in the perfect crime -- a jewel heist which is (unfortunately) a rather simple safecracking affair. This time out, Hayden's desperate gambling addict looks about ready to do anything in order to get back to the pastoral farm where he grew up -- and we believe it.

But the fun of Jungle comes after the thieving, when the cops are after the half dozen collaborators, and each one of them starts to show cracks in his armor. The beard can't take the heat and kills himself. One of the burglars turns state's evidence. As for Hayden, he gets shot in the belly during a negotiation and finds himself slowly bleeding to death. It's one of cinema's most tragic and operatic deaths, playing out over a full and agonizing hour.

John Huston directs a film that starts slow, building itself toward the heist where nothing can go wrong, which subsequently goes completely wrong. Filled with depression and self-loathing, the film cuts itself as a kind of flip-side of The Killing, a perfect Hayden double feature if ever there was one.

Director John Huston has made one of the quietest films I've ever seen, with long, dramatic silences punctuating the action and a searing score that fits perfectly. Huston is at his best here, and the film is highly recommended.

At last on DVD, the disc features a respectable set of extras. Huston's "introduction," cobbled together from old interviews, is extremely garbled and hard to understand. There's also a commentary track from writer Drew Casper and co-star James Whitmore. It's a real must-own.



The Asphalt Jungle

Facts and Figures

Run time: 112 mins

In Theaters: Tuesday 23rd May 1950

Distributed by: WARNER BROTHERS PICTURES

Production compaines: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), Loew's

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 96%
Fresh: 24 Rotten: 1

IMDB: 7.9 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: Arthur Hornblow Jr.

Starring: as Dix Handley, as Alonzo D. Emmerich, as Doll Conovan, as Gus Minissi, as Doc Erwin Riedenschneider, as Police Commissioner Hardy, as Angela Phinlay, as Cobby, Barry Kelley as Lt. Ditrich, Anthony Caruso as Louis Ciavelli, Teresa Celli as Maria Ciavelli, William 'Wee Willie' Davis as Timmons (as William Davis), Dorothy Tree as May Emmerich, as Bob Brannom, John Maxwell as Dr. Swanson

Also starring: ,

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