Film Review of The Asphalt Jungle: An Ambitious Lawman, Financially-strapped Lawbreakers, a High-maintenance Beautiful Mistress, and Stealable Jewels in a Predatory Midwestern City
Even the most thoughtful planning anticipates an incomplete expression of possible scenarios. Predatory agendas, technological breakthroughs, and uncontrolled skirt-chasing are among the most serious challenges. But what else can be expected when one of the babes and dolls being chased in the movie "The Asphalt Jungle" is interpreted most winsomely by Marilyn Monroe?
Cropped screenshot of Marilyn Monroe in “The Asphalt Jungle”, which has been honored by Library of Congress for preservation in U.S. National Film Registry for its cultural, historical, aesthetic significance: Marilyn worked with a stellar cast in this film noir classic (Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons)
The Asphalt Jungle is a film noir of gritty atmosphere, realistic characterizations, and taut plot.
Film noir designates a 1940s/1950s crime drama style. It showcases black-and-white cinematography and philosophical cynicism, as in The Asphalt Jungle, written by John Huston and Ben Maddow; produced by Arthur Hornblow Jr.; and directed by John Huston. Cinematography, editing, and music were respectively by Harold Rosson, George Boemler, and Miklós Rósza.
The film is based upon the same-named novel written by William Riley Burnett (1899-1962) and published in 1949. It lasts 110+ minutes. It was distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, with release on May 23, 1950. It was Oscar-nominated for Best Black-and-White Cinematography, Director, Screenplay, and Supporting Actor.
The movie begins with jewelry heist arrangements. Erwin “Doc” Riedenschneider (played by Sam Jaffe) masterminds the caper. He persuades bookie Cobby (played by Marc Lawrence) to put him in contact with lawyer Alonzo Emmerich (played by Louis Calhern).
Alonzo agrees to advance $50,000 to pay the driver, Gus Minissi (played by James Whtimore), the hooligan, Dix Handley (played by Sterling Hayden), and the safecracker, Louis Ciavelli (played by Anthony Caruso). He will solo-fence for Doc for $500.000.
Doc reluctantly agrees. A fast, pretty, young girl confides that Alonzo is broke. But Dix demurs.
The caper begins smoothly. But the nitroglycerin springs all area alarms. The police seal the scene.
The four thieves encounter a security guard whom Dix hits. The gun accidentally fires into Louis. Gus takes Louis home to die.
Alonzo does not have $500,000. His private detective pal, Bob Brannom (played by Brad Dexter), is killed trying to get the jewels from Dix and Doc. Dix is wounded. Doc tells Alonzo to give the jewels to Belletier’s insurance company at one-quarter their value.
Cobby confesses to Lieutenant Ditrich (played by Barry Kelley). The insurance company contacts the police. Gus is arrested.
Alonzo’s mistress, Angela Phinlay (played by Marilyn Monroe), admits to falsely alibiing him. Alonzo asks to telephone wife May (played by Dorothy Tree). He shoots himself.
Doc gets cabby Frank Schurz (played by Henry Rowland) to drive him to Cleveland, Ohio. Doc is distracted by a roadhouse flirt, Jeannie (played by Helene Stanley). The police nab him.
Dix’s acquaintance Doll Conovan (played by Jean Hagen) drives him to his family’s former Kentucky horse farm. Dix has the re-purchase money. He inches along the pasture only to bleed to death.
The Asphalt Jungle is a gripping drama which pulls viewers into the minds of lawbreakers and their dolls and wives.
Copyright: Friday, June 29, 2012 by Derdriu.