50 of 1001 Movies: The Asphalt Jungle (1950)

John Huston is a master of film noir, and The Asphalt Jungle showcases a huge cast who help pull off the genre well. Even though Marilyn Monroe didn’t play a big a part Jean Hagen she still got my cover time considering her status in Hollywood. The Asphalt Jungle is a good crime drama though, perhaps not quite like Anatomy of  a Murder, but still a good watch.

Doc Erwin has gotten out of jail, and as soon as he gets out he wants to put together a heist. He is quick to get to business by finding a crooked lawyer to invest the money in it. An interesting mix of men are then assembled to be at each part of the heist including Dix, who wants to take the money and return to his childhood dream of the horse ranch. When the heist goes wrong though it sends the men sprawling for cover, and Dix having to rely on Dolly, a woman he doesn’t seem to serious about in the first place.

There are a lot of interesting interactions in this film including the treatment of women. They are sort of viewed as disposable to the men when they have what they want from them. It also upholds some ways women are still viewed today. By far the most interesting is Dix who though seems bland when he recites lines still has interesting story surrounding him. The last hour featuring him is what is most interesting to watch.

Doc is also a creepy mastermind who seems much more capable of what he is putting together in this movie. He doesn’t seem to pick the brightest of people in comparison to his smarts. Maybe he wasn’t too smart to begin with though. There is also the little appearances from Marilyn Monroe who basically portrays something that seems like it would stereotype her badly. A blonde woman who is with an older married man for his money. The only thing she seems concerned about near the end of the movie is whether she will get her trip to the beach.

The film turns out to pick up about halfway through, which is a long time to wait to finally feel interested. The technique Huston used to set up the atmosphere with his lighting throughout the movie is genius too. There were some powerful scenes where the shadows blended with people. He used the light great to create suspense. The acting gets you invested to.

Rating 3 of 5.

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