The Asphalt Jungle (1950)

JOHN HUSTON

Bil’s rating (out of 5):   BBBB

USA, 1950Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.  Screenplay by , John Huston, based on the novel by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by .  Music by .  Production Design by , .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  Academy Awards 1950.  Golden Globe Awards 1950.

Genre-defining heist movie that is as memorable for its rich characters and sharp writing as for its glinty black-and-white cinematography and cool, jazzy style.  arrives in town fresh from his jail sentence with thievery on his mind. He hooks up with a crack team of jewel thieves (including and ) under the guidance of a financially burdened lawyer (), all of them conspiring to rob a store of its precious gemstones. The actual heist goes without a hitch, but little surprises and accidents that follow the theft lead to a more dubious climax than the bad boys had planned. Later the inspiration for Jules Dassin’s even more impressive Rififi, this film also features a terrific performance by as Hayden’s girlfriend and an early appearance by a still young and dewy . It’s film that directors often look back to when making this kind of movie, and very few have duplicated its easy finesse since.

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