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  • The Asphalt Jungle [VHS] [1950]
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The Asphalt Jungle [VHS] [1950]


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Product details

  • Actors: Sterling Hayden, Louis Calhern, Jean Hagen, James Whitmore, Sam Jaffe
  • Directors: John Huston
  • Writers: John Huston, Ben Maddow, W.R. Burnett
  • Producers: Arthur Hornblow Jr.
  • Format: VHS
  • Language: English, German
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: Warner
  • VHS Release Date: 6 Mar. 2000
  • Run Time: 107 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00004CMBM
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 140,546 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

Classic Huston film, which was also Marilyn Monroe's first big starring role, and her first successful film. Recently released from prison, Doc Reidenschneider (Sam Jaffe) plans a jewel heist with lawyer Alonzo Emmerich (Louis Calhern). Doc begins rehearsing the theft with his gang of criminals, but Emmerich is planning a double cross.

Synopsis

Tension builds as a bunch of small-time losers gather for a jewel heist. "Doc" Riedenschneider has returned from prison with a plan for the million dollar theft. --This text refers to the DVD edition.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 28 people found the following review helpful By J. M. Harman on 22 Nov. 2008
Format: DVD
"The Asphalt Jungle" is one of the few Hollywood films to follow the Russian tradition of picture-making; for the film does not include actors who are "stars" in the accepted sense of the word, but people who have been encouraged to "sink" their characters fully into the roles they are playing. Even Marilyn Monroe - in one of her first film parts - is not listed in the opening credit titles.
The movie captures perfectly the weaknesses of human nature that comes from greed & the wish to have more than one`s "fair share" . The contrast in the characters is notable: for example, the coolness of the German "Doctor" and the nervousness of the bookmaker.
The black & white photography is gritty & helps create the sombre atmosphere of the film. The use of music too, is restrained: only in the first & last scenes of the picture is there any "soundtrack" background music. Otherwise the music emanates from "natural" sources i.e. radio, jukebox etc., altogether an absorbing film, well worth seeing; a classic of its kind.
John Harman.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Sloper on 24 Nov. 2007
Format: DVD
Claims that this film 'invented' the caper movie may seem excessive, since this wasn't the first time a heist had been depicted from the crooks' point of view. But what made The Asphalt Jungle so fresh was the sympathy and sensitivity with which it characterised its 'crooked' heroes.

One of the studio heads (Louis B. Mayer, I think) famously said he 'wouldn't cross the road to see that Asphalt Pavement thing' because it was about 'ugly people doing ugly things'. In fact, the criminals in John Huston's film are far less 'ugly' than the ones contemporary audiences were used to, and this may in fact have been what Mayer found so discomfiting about the experience.

As Louis Calhern's crooked banker says when trying to soothe his wife's fears about the criminals with whom he associates, 'they're not so different really - after all, crime is only a left-handed form of human endeavour'. The moment sums up the film's outlook, and Huston delights in juxtaposing the single-minded prejudice and condemnation of the 'good citizens' in the film with the essential decentness of his three-dimensional protagonists.

Huston is sometimes credited with making the first 'true' film noir, The Maltese Falcon. With The Asphalt Jungle, he gave the Noir genre more depth and sophistication and sheer human feeling than had even its greatest exponents (Wilder, Tourneur, Huston himself, etc) during the 1940s. And the impression stuck: The Killing and Rififi spring most readily to mind as direct imitations of The Asphalt Jungle.

This is as beautifully photographed, written, acted and directed a crime film as you will ever see, and why there aren't already a hundred gushing reviews for it on this page I really don't know. You need to see it.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By DP on 29 Dec. 2007
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This is a bit of a gem in terms of heist films. Whether or not it really invented the genre is not important. What is worth considering is that it has a really good set of characters that intertwine fabulously in a rather good plot. Rather than spoil the film by explaining everyone and thing, lets just say that the heist itself is nearly flawless. Then there is the inevitable double cross - but by whom you ask? Lets say its very much a source of the Ocean's 12 type of game. Nevertheless, the acting underpins a good old-fashioned storyline, where you actually have to watch and listen (and not switch off!)

Film noir, not in its truest sense, but yes its nearly there - certainly adding more to it than just tension.

I stumbled on this, didn't know much about it, but ended up liking it. It only gets 4 stars, because the transfer to DVD is a bit shoddy. Worth watching though.
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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Epsilon on 24 April 2001
Format: VHS Tape
It is a curious fact that despite the an ever-increasing modern infatuation with the criminal perspective of life, "The Asphalt Jungle", the first heist film from such a view, has languished in obscurity. It represents a major break from the traditional thriller and a key achievement of 50s film-making.
Deliberately episodic in form, the film takes us through the careful planning for the job, the botched attempt, and the frantic getaway. In generating believable and sympathetic criminals, John Huston's confident direction does the difficult job of showing how the violence of these character has not robbed them of their humanity.
Of course, unlike the Westerns, where the dark heroes could ride off into the sunset, this film aimed for the gritty realism of its day and so there could be no rosy future for its villians. Thus the film bears the classic elements of tragedy whereby the protagonists' own shortcomings prompt their fall. And as with all great tragedy, inevitability does not betray the climax of its power.
In many ways, it is a pity that this film featured the debut of Marilyn Munroe. Her patent beauty is only on the screen for a few minutes and yet has stolen much of the attention that the rest of this film so richly deserved.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Spike Owen TOP 500 REVIEWER on 4 Feb. 2011
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Out of MGM, The Asphalt Jungle is directed by John Huston and based on the novel of the same name by W.R. Burnett. It stars Sterling Hayden, Jean Hagen, Sam Jaffe, Louis Calhern, James Whitmore, Teresa Celli, and in a minor but important role, Marilyn Monroe. Miklós Rózsa scores the music and Harold Rosson photographs it in black & white. Plot sees Erwin "Doc" Riedenschneider (Jaffe) leave prison and quickly assemble a gang to execute a long in gestation jewellery heist. However, with suspicion rife and fate waiting to take a hand, the carefully constructed caper starts to come apart at the seams.

John Huston liked a tough movie, having given film noir in America a jump start with The Maltese Falcon in 1941, he also that same year adapted W.R. Burnett's novel High Sierra. Burnett also had on his CV crime classic stories Little Caesar & Scarface, so it's no surprise that Huston was drawn to The Asphalt Jungle. As it turned out, it was a match made in gritty urban heaven.

The Asphalt Jungle was one of the first crime film's to break with convention and tell its story from the side of the criminals. Where once the pursuing law officers/private detectives were the heavy part of the plotting, now under Huston's crafty guidance we have a study in crime and a daring for us to empathise with a bunch of criminals/villains/anti-heroes. As a group the gang consists of very differing characters yet they have a common bond, they strive for a better life. Be it Hayden's luggish Dix who dreams of buying back his father's horse ranch back in Kentucky, or Jaffe's Doc who wants to retire to Mexico and surround himself with girls: it's greed and yearning that binds them together.
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