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  • Asphalt Jungle [VHS]
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Asphalt Jungle [VHS]

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Product Details

  • Actors: Sterling Hayden, Louis Calhern, Jean Hagen, James Whitmore, Sam Jaffe
  • Directors: John Huston
  • Writers: John Huston, Ben Maddow, W.R. Burnett
  • Producers: Arthur Hornblow Jr.
  • Format: Black & White, NTSC
  • Language: English, German
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: MGM (Warner)
  • VHS Release Date: July 26, 1993
  • Run Time: 112 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (108 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6301966430
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #87,563 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews


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

Customer Reviews

Terrific noir film.
The film also stars Marilyn Monroe in an early role, Marc Lawrence, Anthony Caruso, Jean Hagen, and in a particularly slimy role, Brad Dexter.
T O'Brien
He's a criminal genius & he's been busy while inside planning the perfect crime, a jewel heist.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

51 of 51 people found the following review helpful By peterfromkanata on August 5, 2004
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Actually, I'll give "The Asphalt Jungle" four and a half stars, as it stands as one of the great "films noir", and another triumph for director, John Huston. This is a gritty, realistic portrait of the big city's dark "underbelly", circa 1950, and some of the shady characters who are trying to survive in this tough environment.

Most of the people we meet in "Jungle" are crooks, with different skills--there is even the obligatory "cop on the take". A brainy crook named "Doc" ( Sam Jaffe, excellent as usual ) has just been released from jail, where he has clearly not been rehabilitated ! He has planned a big jewellery heist. Of course, he needs help to pull it off. With the assistance of the local bookie, "Cobby" ( sweaty, nervous Marc Lawrence ), he recruits an expert safe-cracker, "Louis" ( desperate Anthony Caruso ), a getaway driver, "Gus" ( cool-under-fire James Whitmore ) and, for muscle, a bitter, tough-as-nails hood, "Dix" (an unshaven Sterling Hayden, never better ). To bankroll the whole operation, our gang brings in a sleazy lawyer named Emmerich, played with smarmy elitism by Louis Calhern.

Of course, you know what can happen to "the best laid plans". Unforeseen problems, accidents and the personal faults of the individuals involved cause Doc's "perfect plan" to go off the rails. There is much more to the plot, not to mention some interesting sub-plots, but I don't like to spoil movies for first-time viewers, so I will not reveal more of the story-line.

I would like to mention a few other performances though that further contribute to a fine film. Jean Hagen plays "Doll", Dix's long-suffering girlfriend, a very different role to her ditzy, petulant "star" in "Singin' in the Rain"--what a versatile actress !
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Vincent Tesi on July 12, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
When director John Huston was edged out of the production of The Killers, he was determined to create a landmark film that would define and embody professional crimminality. Huston exceeded his expectations. The Asphalt Jungle is the seminal "caper film" which inspired a host of similar pictures. Huston assembled a superb cast where each actor represented a character who possessed a special skill needed to complete a million dollar jewel heist. Sam Jaffe is Doc Reidenschneider-the mastermind, Anthony Caruso is Louie Ciavelli- the safe cracker, Marc Lawrence is Coby- the bookmaker who finances the operation, Sterling Hayden is Dix Handley- the enforcer, James Whitmore is Gus- the wheelman,and Louis Calhern is Emmerich- the corrupt attorney who acts as a fence. The characters, especially Doc, Louie, Dix, and Gus, are sketched with blatant realism. Each character is proud of their status and existence within the underworld. Their careers and reputations hinge on their acceptance by fellow professionals. Huston injects the virtues of trust, loyalty, and respect into their crimminal circle and simultaneously questions the code of honor among the rightousness. Emmerich sums up this dichotomy with a memorable line: "There's nothing so different about them (crimminals). Crime is only a left-handed form of human endeavor." Morality, an issue in most noir films becomes blurred as Emmerich and a graft accepting detective become viewed as figures more contemptable than the crimminals involved in the heist. Sterling Hayden as Dix delivers his most memorable performance. Dix is not just another tough henchman, but a troubled loner trying to ..."wash this city dirt off me". Huston allows viewers unabashed insight into each of his characters.Read more ›
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By mirasreviews HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 21, 2005
Format: DVD
"The Asphalt Jungle", based on the novel by W. R. Burnett, was director John Huston's farewell to film noir style. His first film noir, 1941's "The Maltese Falcon", also adapted from a novel, was arguably the first film in the noir style, making Huston an essential contributor to the movement. "The Asphalt Jungle"'s apt subtitle, "The City Under the City", pretty well describes what the film is about: the criminal underworld. "The Asphalt Jungle" explores the planning, execution, and aftermath of a great jewel heist by a diverse band of criminals. Doc Riedenschneider (Sam Jaffe) is a caper mastermind who has just been released from prison. Eager to execute a grand jewel heist, Doc immediately visits a bookmaker named Cobby (Marc Lawrence), whom he hopes can connect him to a financier for the project. Cobby introduces Doc to a crooked and apparently wealthy lawyer, Mr. Lon Emmerich (Louis Calhern), who jumps at the opportunity to finance the heist. They hire a boxman, or safecracker, Louis Ciavelli (Anthony Caruso), a driver, Gus (James Whitmore), and a hooligan, Dix Handley (Sterling Hayden) to pull the job. Things might go well if Emmerich were not actually broke and planning to double-cross his partners.

John Huston says in his introduction to the film, "You may not admire these people, but I think they'll fascinate you." In truth, the criminals of "The Asphalt Jungle" are more sympathetic than it's law enforcement agents, who number a corrupt bully and a self-righteous crusader. As Emmerich says in the film, "Crime is only a left-handed form of human endeavor." These characters have aspirations, hopes, and troubles similar to their law-abiding counterparts. And they are foiled by their obsessions. The underworld is a mirror image of the respectable world.
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