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Asphalt Jungle

Sterling Hayden , Louis Calhern , John Huston    VHS Tape
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)

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The dark urban world of The Asphalt Jungle is one of the essential destinations in film noir, but be warned: despite tough guy Sterling Hayden's dreams of bucolic escape, there is no way out. John Huston directed this superbly calibrated crime classic, which displays his usual wry appreciation of fringies and down-and-outers. This time the task for Huston's eccentric ensemble is a jewel robbery, which--this being a Huston film--can't possibly work out as well as its plan. The cast includes Sam Jaffee, indelible as a criminal mastermind, and the pre-stardom Marilyn Monroe. Hayden plays the kind of mug he would revisit in Stanley Kubrick's The Killing, which is an informal homage to this film. And the film's look is definitive: both artful and gritty, it creates a noir landscape that traps its people just as surely as the tar pits trapped the dinosaurs. No wonder they call it noir. --Robert Horton

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
By Nix Pix
Format:DVD
"The Asphalt Jungle" make the film one of the essential destinations for fans of film noir. The films artfully gritty atmosphere is perhaps its best selling feature, though, truth be told, there is nothing about the production that is second rate. Basically, it's a jewel heist caper gone horribly wrong but carried off with such panache and attention to detail by director, John Huston that one has to admire both the economy of plot and depth of characters fleshed out within the context of two hours. Huston's great knack for extolling unusual and breakthrough performances from his ensemble is working overtime on this occasion. While we might be used to seeing Sam Jaffe as a nefarious rogue (here, he's Doc, the criminal mastermind with a weakness for hoop earrings and tight skirts), the extraordinary off kilter performance of Louis Calhern - as middle aged fencer, Ennrich/sugar daddy to Marilyn Monroe, is so menacing in its undertone, that one wishes the actor had been given the opportunity to play more such parts. There is nothing cartoonish or cliché about any of the characters in the film. Sterling Hayden's particularly powerful as Dix Handley, the tense enforcer of the group. This is a story about out of control people losing control of their lives. Huston captures the immediacy of these tragic lives and the overwhelming sense of doom. As one might expect, it ends badly for all concerned though, within the context of this review I won't say exactly how.
The transfer on "The Asphalt Jungle" is better than average, though it's not perfect. The gray scale has a richly balanced look with deep solid blacks and clean whites. On occasion grain looks heavier than it should and contrast levels seem a tad low.
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5.0 out of 5 stars THE CITY UNDER THE CITY.... July 7 2004
Format:DVD
German-born Doc (Sam Jaffe) assembles a team of expert criminals for a big jewel heist in John Huston's "Asphalt Jungle". The planning of the robbery and the actual crime itself make up the first part of this excellent film. The remainder of the film details the fall-out after the crime. Sterling Hayden is Dix, a country boy tired of being covered in big city dirt; James Whitmore is a cafe owner whose dive is a front for criminal activity; Anthony Caruso as a safecracker with a family: Marc Lawrence as a bookie with his own racket going---all these actors are superb as the gang. Then there's Louis Calhern as Lon, a wealthy businessman whose blown all his money on his mistress Angela (Marilyn Monroe) and wants to pull a scam of his own to "get out from under", and there's Doll (Jean Hagen), a clip-joint girl who loves Dix. Just an incredible cast makes this film worth watching and Huston's taut direction keep it exciting all the way to the end. Surprisingly adult for the time in it's frank depictions of the characters foibles and weaknesses---particularly Jaffe's (Doc) eye for young girls. Monroe has two extended and very telling scenes with Calhern and Hagen is wonderful as the uneducated hard luck Doll. Highly recommended all the way for lovers of tough, juicy noir crime films. The DVD is a good print that includes commentaries (including Whitmore) and an archival introduction by Huston. A truly compelling viewing experience.
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4.0 out of 5 stars THE LAW OF THIS JUNGLE IS DEADLY July 6 2004
By Nix Pix
Format:DVD
The disquieting urban landscape and deeply disturbed motley crew of spurious characters that populate "The Asphalt Jungle" make the film one of the essential destinations for fans of film noir. The films artfully gritty atmosphere is perhaps its best selling feature, though, truth be told, there is nothing about the production that is second rate. Basically, it's a jewel heist caper gone horribly wrong but carried off with such panache and attention to detail by director, John Huston that one has to admire both the economy of plot and depth of characters fleshed out within the context of two hours. Huston's great knack for extolling unusual and breakthrough performances from his ensemble is working overtime on this occasion. While we might be used to seeing Sam Jaffe as a nefarious rogue (here, he's Doc, the criminal mastermind with a weakness for hoop earrings and tight skirts), the extraordinary off kilter performance of Louis Calhern - as middle aged fencer, Ennrich/sugar daddy to Marilyn Monroe, is so menacing in its undertone, that one wishes the actor had been given the opportunity to play more such parts. There is nothing cartoonish or cliché about any of the characters in the film. Sterling Hayden's particularly powerful as Dix Handley, the tense enforcer of the group. This is a story about out of control people losing control of their lives. Huston captures the immediacy of these tragic lives and the overwhelming sense of doom. As one might expect, it ends badly for all concerned though, within the context of this review I won't say exactly how.
The transfer on "The Asphalt Jungle" is better than average, though it's not perfect. The gray scale has a richly balanced look with deep solid blacks and clean whites.
Read more ›
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5.0 out of 5 stars Classic film noir June 25 2003
Format:VHS Tape
The Asphalt Jungle is an excellent film noir classic directed by John Huston. The story follows the preparation of a jewel heist, the robbery, and then the following chase for the crooks. During the robbery, something goes wrong causing the police to come down hard on the robbers. This is a classic movie that shows a darker side of society and the people in it. These people aren't just cartoon characters, but human beings with emotions and reasons for the way they live. In the movie, we see the motivation for several of the characters and why they are involved in the robbery. The cast for the movie is very good with several big stars. Sterling Hayden is suprisingly good as Dix Handley, the enforcer on the heist. His performance is very good since it is different from his usual cardboard personality in movies. Louis Calhern plays Ennrich, the fence for the heist and the man who has alterior motives. James Whitmore is excellent as Gus, the driver with the crooked back. Sam Jaffe is also very good as Doc, the orchestrator of the plan who is recently out of jail. The film also stars Marilyn Monroe in an early role, Marc Lawrence, Anthony Caruso, Jean Hagen, and in a particularly slimy role, Brad Dexter. This is an excellent film that doesn't shy away from showing things like they are. A great story with flawed characters help to make this a true classic. Do not miss the Asphalt Jungle!
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great video, quick delivery!
Published 1 month ago by Becky O'Neill
5.0 out of 5 stars Pour les vrais fans.
Toute la magie de Marilyn en quelques minutes et peu de mots....les débuts de la star!! Produit de qualité, livré dans les délais et en bon état.
Published 3 months ago by Frédérique M.
4.0 out of 5 stars The Asphalt Jungle
Only 7 minutes of Marilyn Munro but good show! Unusual creative ending. They didn't get away. Should have had more Marilyn Munro!
Published on Nov. 20 2011 by Carole
5.0 out of 5 stars "Asphalt Jungle (1950) ... Sterling Hayden ... John Huston (Director)...
'Doc' Riedenschneider, legendary crime 'brain' just out of prison, has a brilliant plan for a million-dollar burglary. Read more
Published on Feb. 8 2011 by J. Lovins
5.0 out of 5 stars "That nasty asphalt pavement thing'
Director: John Huston
Format: Black & White
Studio: Turner Home Video
Video Release Date: February 26, 1992
Cast:
Sterling Hayden ... Read more
Published on July 17 2004 by Joseph H Pierre
5.0 out of 5 stars Huston Highlight
My own favorite John Huston film; superior in its way to his other great projects like "The Maltese Falcon" and "Treasure of the Sierra Madre. Read more
Published on May 30 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the greatest crime films of the 1950s
It is tragic that this marvelous film is not yet available on DVD. While it would not be full screen, I nonetheless would love to see a perfectly restored print and the greater... Read more
Published on Feb. 1 2003 by Robert Moore
5.0 out of 5 stars See the Movie, Read the Book
This film is a condensed version of the book, which is more complex. The moral of the story is that crime doesn't pay (a cynic would say "unless you get away with it"). Read more
Published on Jan. 7 2003 by Acute Observer
3.0 out of 5 stars A tamed jungled
This film has a rather banal subject: a criminal gets out of prison and then in touch with a broke lawyer who accepts to finance a big robbery, but with his tongue in his cheek and... Read more
Published on Nov. 18 2002 by Jacques COULARDEAU
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