The Asphalt Jungle (1950)

A Little Background: One of my favorite movie sub-genres is Film Noir. A genre famous for it’s gritty black & white portrayal of morally ambiguous characters in compromising situations. These crime dramas dominated the 1940s and 1950s, and they only get better with age. Director John Huston is cited as making the first major film noir The Maltese Falcon in 1941. Nine years later, after the smashing successes of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre and Key Largo, he released The Asphalt Jungle.

The Film: This story goes deep into the seedy underbelly of an unnamed Midwest city. Most of the film follows the intricate planning, immediate success, and eventual failing of a jewelry heist. The heist is conceived and funded by a criminal mastermind, a bookie, and a high-profile lawyer who to hire a safe-cracker, a getaway driver, and a goon to perform the dirty deed. The cast is headline by Sterling Hayden, Jean Hagen, and Sam Jaffe, who earned a Best Supporting nomination. It also features Marilyn Monroe in a small but pivotal role. Monroe would end up being cast in two major Oscar nominated films in 1950, The Asphalt Jungle and All About Eve.

Three Favorite Things: incredible camerawork, Sterling Hayden’s golden voice and persona, and all of the subtle elements that make this a genre-defining film


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