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The Asphalt Jungle [VHS] [1950]

Sterling Hayden , Louis Calhern , John Huston    Parental Guidance   VHS Tape
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
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Product details

  • Actors: Sterling Hayden, Louis Calhern, Jean Hagen, James Whitmore, Sam Jaffe
  • Directors: John Huston
  • Format: VHS
  • Language: English, German
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: Warner
  • VHS Release Date: 6 Mar 2000
  • Run Time: 107 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00004CMBM
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 228,732 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.


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

3 star
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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A realistic film 22 Nov 2008
"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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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best crime film ever 24 Nov 2007
By Sloper
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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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing and involving 29 Dec 2007
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
4.0 out of 5 stars Both ahead of its time and of it 24 April 2001
By Epsilon
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
4.0 out of 5 stars "We all work for our vices." 23 Nov 2007
By Trevor Willsmer HALL OF FAME TOP 100 REVIEWER
Once a key part of the mighty battle between Louis B. Mayer and head of production Dore Schary for creative control at MGM, John Huston's classic 1950 heist movie The Asphalt Jungle is good - very good - but at times it feels like it would have benefited from a lower budget and a tighter running time. Even though it was a comparatively low budget picture for the studio there's still a feeling that it's a film about people with no money made by people with rather a lot of it even if it was part of a conscious move by the studio to tackle grittier subject matter to compete with television. But then, with a track record that included Little Caesar, Scarface and High Sierra, the screen rights to W. R. Burnett's novel were never likely to go to one of the more cash-strapped studios that churned out film noir thrillers for their bread-and-butter.

It's that old favorite, the perfect heist that goes wrong, not because of bad luck or any overlooked detail but because of the inherent character flaws of the men carrying it out: for Sam Jaffe's meticulous and brilliant planner Doc Riedenschneider, it's very young girls ("We all work for our vices"), for Louis Calhern's crooked lawyer it's his belief that he can talk his way in and out of anything, for Marc Lawrence's bookie it's his desire to be seen as the equal of more socially `legitimate' criminals and for Sterling Hayden's not-too-bright hooligan it's his exaggerated sense of his own honor. Although executed with skill, most of the film's pleasures come from the performances, not least Jaffe's uncharacteristic Teutonic precision that earned him an Oscar nomination and Louis Calhern's free-spending but bankrupt criminal lawyer who simply regards crime as "a left-handed form of human endeavor" and who gets much of the best dialogue.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 2 months ago by matthew doherty
4.0 out of 5 stars Great acting. Good to see a young Marylin Monroe
A film that really has atmosphere. Great acting. Good to see a young Marylin Monroe. Story good and dark and a film not expensive to make.
Published 2 months ago by Tadeusz H. Oska
5.0 out of 5 stars A gripping heist story
It's one of those crime films where a guy gathers, one by one, a small gang of specialists to do a job - in this case a jewel robbery.
You get the intricate planning.. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Mr. C. R. Milner
4.0 out of 5 stars A robbery gone wrong
It is dated obviously, but it remains a beautifully performed magnificently directed story about a robbery that goes wrong and the men involved. Read more
Published 8 months ago by W. Russell
5.0 out of 5 stars A film proving that after all, crime is only a left-handed form of...
This 1950 archi-classic of film noir is very famous - and every single ounce of this fame is well deserved! Below, more of my impressions, with some very limited SPOILERS. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Darth Maciek
5.0 out of 5 stars American Noir
The Asphalt Jungle [1950] [DVD]
This is American Noir - a classic and a bargain. Is this Marylin Monroe's first appearance? Read more
Published on 27 Aug 2011 by Thomas88
5.0 out of 5 stars "Asphalt Jungle (1950) ... Sterling Hayden ... John Huston (Director)...
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) presents "ASPHALT JUNGLE" (1950) (112 min/B&W) (Fully Restored/Dolby Digitally Remastered) -- Starring Sterling Hayden, Louis Calhern, Jean Hagen, James... Read more
Published on 9 Feb 2011 by J. Lovins
5.0 out of 5 stars Experience has taught me never to trust a policeman. Just when you...
Out of MGM, The Asphalt Jungle is directed by John Huston and based on the novel of the same name by W.R. Burnett. Read more
Published on 4 Feb 2011 by Spike Owen
5.0 out of 5 stars The Ashphalt Jungle (DVD) 1950
This film is gritty and tense,with screenplay by Ben Maddow and John Huston, and also directed by John Huston. Read more
Published on 29 Aug 2010 by Derek Vernon-morris
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic
Crisp, tight, script, direction, and acting. Plus Marilyn Monroe in one of her smallest but most noteworthy parts.
Published on 28 Jun 2010 by Mr. M. Pearson
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