THE ASPHALT JUNGLE

(1950)
With Sterling Hayden, Louis Calhern, James Whitmore, Jean Hagen, Sam Jaffe, Marilyn Monroe
Directed by John Huston
Black and White
Reviewed by JL and JB

    John Huston's classic film noir in which a perfectly executed crime falls apart with equal precision.  The lowlifes who pull off the grand heist are portrayed as semi-sympathetic, down-on-their-luck types looking for a quick buck to set their lives right again.  Part character study, part action film, THE ASPHALT JUNGLE sends a strong message about the consequences of a life of crime without being preachy and moralizing about it. 5 - JL


     Although I enjoyed the remake of OCEAN'S 11, I have never had an urge to see it again, nor check out any of the sequels.  Films like THE ASPHALT JUNGLE and Kubrick's THE KILLING made me realize that it is more emotionally satisfying to see a bunch of ugly mugs plan the perfect heist and have it all fall apart than to see a bunch of great-looking people plan the perfect heist and get away with it. George Clooney and company are smugly satisfied with their own coolness, not necessarily a bad thing for the film, but without a comeuppance, OCEAN'S 11 is a multi-million dollar piece of cinematic cotton candy. Cool guys pull a caper, cool guys win, cool guys make sequels.  

     Conversely, the hooligans and sharpies in THE ASPHALT JUNGLE are un-cool men stuck in self-made purgatories, slaves to their own various desires and addictions, and double-crossed at every turn by their closest associates.  When everything ends up badly for all of them, the natural reaction is "Serves 'em right... the poor schmoes."

     If THE ASPHALT JUNGLE were made today, the hooligan and his moll, played by Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, would wind up back on their farm with a satchel full of jewels and a signed contract for THE ASPHALT JUNGLES 2, 3 and 4.  4½ - JB

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