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U.S., 1950
Directed by John Huston
Starring Sterling Hayden, Louis Calhern, Jean Hagen, Marilyn Monroe
Screenplay by Ben Maddow, John Huston
Approx. 112 min. 35mm.

“Crime is a left-handed form of human endeavor.” Back from the pen, criminal mastermind Sam Jaffe recruits strong-arm Sterling Hayden, driver James Whitmore, and safecracker Anthony Caruso for that big heist, with backing from lawyer/fence Louis Calhern (whose “niece” is Marilyn Monroe) — but thieves will fall out. The first of the Big Caper pictures, adapted from the W.R. Burnett (LITTLE CAESAR, HIGH SIERRA) classic. “When [MGM studio chief Dore] Schary-sponsored ASPHALT JUNGLE, a film noir drenched in despair, opened to acclaim in June 1950, Mayer was apoplectic. To close associates he railed against the heist thriller as “full of nasty, ugly people doing nasty, ugly things. I won’t walk across the room to see a thing like that.” Horrified, Mayer regarded the film as a personal affront, a refutation of the airbrushed, idealized Americana that he had always promoted. Taking place in an inner-city world of shabby rooms, THE ASPHALT JUNGLE looks nothing like a traditional MGM product… the grainy black-and-white cinematography by Harold Rosson, and the work of the ensemble cast reveal not a trace of the more-stars-than-there-are-in-heaven house style.” – Foster Hirsch


“Jean-Pierre Melville once declared that, by his reckoning, there were precisely nineteen possible dramatic variants on the relations between cops and crooks, and that all nineteen were to be found in “that masterpiece of John Huston” THE ASPHALT JUNGLE”
– Geoffrey O’Brien, Criterion Collection

“Blood and trauma make an irresistible mix in THE ASPHALT JUNGLE”
– Clayton Dillard, Slant Magazine

“...although the malaise and moral corruption it describes runs as socially deep as any of Fritz Lang’s noirs, it’s Huston’s irony and his attention to character, the villain’s thwarted professionalism and, albeit misguided, ambition, that deepens it, ensuring the pastoral ending’s pathetic force and emotional kick”
– Wally Hammond, Time Out

“THE ASPHALT JUNGLE is the greatest, most influential heist movie”
– Phillip French, The Guardian

“[One] of Huston's best work of [the 1950s...] It's a noir observing the build-up and aftermath of a jewel heist, taking considerable interest in both the process of the vault-cracking and the workaday lives and dreams of its gang of double-crossing crooks, including a superb, oleaginous Louis Calhern as their old-moneyed backer, the whole affair owing not a little to Huston's own 1948 THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE.”
– Nick Pinkerton, Sight and Sound

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