The Asphalt Jungle (1950)

Genres - Crime  |   Sub-Genres - Crime Thriller, Caper, Gangster Film, Film Noir  |   Release Date - Jun 8, 1950 (USA)  |   Run Time - 112 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Michael Betzold

Much imitated, The Asphalt Jungle was one of the first caper films to show a crime and its consequences from the criminals' point of view. It's one of director John Huston's most gritty and suspenseful films, centering on a recently paroled criminal's scheme to make one last big hit. The cast of reliable character actors includes Sterling Hayden, James Whitmore and Sam Jaffe, and a little-known seductress named Marilyn Monroe, who had a small part. Based on a novel by W.R. Burnett, The Asphalt Jungle was innovative for 1950, as Huston told a crime-doesn't-pay story without the usual distancing and moralizing. It is more of a character study than an action film, and countless films that came later, all the way to Pulp Fiction, have paid it homage, some unknowingly. Some of the more direct remakes of the same plot include Cairo, A Cool Breeze, and The Badlanders.