THE ASPHALT JUNGLE (BLACK AND WHITE, 1950)
Louis Calhern, Sterling Hayden, Sam Jaffe, James Whitmore, Marilyn Monroe, Marc Lawrence, John McIntire, Brad Dexter, Anthony Caruso, Jean Hagen and Dorothy Tree
10 and up
Doc Erwin Riedenschneider (Jaffe) has been locked up in jail for seven years. What does he do during his jail term? He crafts a major heist for half a million dollars. He meets Cobby (Lawrence), and they get in touch with married lawyer Alonzo Emmerich (Calhern) to help finance them. Alonzo is almost bankrupt, and so he and his friend (Dexter) want to double-cross Doc for the loot. Together with hooligan Dix Handley (Hayden), driver Gus (Whitmore) and safecracker Louis (Caruso), the crime is committed. However, with Alonzo’s niece (Monroe) spilling the beans about her uncle’s role, the end is near for all the culprits.
|Still of (from left): Sterling Hayden, Sam Jaffe and Louis Calhern|
Why it’s good:
Because it is the city under the city, a jungle city of crime and hooligans and a lot more. The ‘jungle city’ is one of the best film-noir works ever made, about crime and betrayal.
While Marilyn Monroe stole the show as Alonzo’s niece Angela Phinlay, her first film of the decade in which she was credited, the crime plot was one of the most fascinating – it was a crime plot with many characters showing how the heist led to a huge change in everyone’s life.
Both director John Huston and star Sterling Hayden were members of the Committee for the First Amendment, which stood against the blacklisting of alleged Communists working in the film industry during the Red Scare. Huston had never been a Communist, although Hayden at one point had been.
Violence and more violence after the heist.
Rififi (1955) was made in Italy by an American and it is what this is – a heist.