John Huston directs what some consider one of the first noirs ever. The Asphalt Jungle is a crime caper involving a german mastermind called the Doctor, who’s just got out from behind the wall. He holes up with Cobby, a bookie with underworld connections. One of these connections is to a reputed lawyer, Emmerich. The Doc’s got a proposition you see but you needs money to bankroll it and he hopes Emmerich’s his man. They meet and thrash out a deal that involves robbing a jewelry store and then fencing off the goods.

They hire a pro safecracker, Louis Ciavelli, a driver in Gus and the thug in Dix. Each guy comes with their own little story. Doc has been doing big heists for years but he’s a perv. First thing he does when he gets to Cobby’s is stare at this calendar with 50s poster girls on it. Cobby’s a nervous wreck all the time and he’s been running an illegal bookmaking racket. Louis Ciavelli’s got a family to take care of and needs the dough. Dix left his farmland in search of a better life but ended up as a hoodlum. Emmerich’s front is a rich, respectable lawyer but in truth he’s broke as and therein lies the problem. The poncey old man keeps a mistress on the side, played by Marilyn Monroe in a minor role, which helps to suck his finances dry. He reckons he can get away with double crossing the crew with a little help from a PI. Good thing Doc’s wise to this and enlists the help of Dix. Can they get the money or will the cops get em first?

Crime doesn’t pay. I don’t really think urbanity breeds crime or that rural = simple though. You get that in the film with the contrast between the various people with various statuses, from high rolling white collar to blue collar types and pro crims and finally the peasant. The film is shot beautifully and I dug the cinematography. But hey, it’s a film noir so it’s already full of win.

Also, the first scene has to have inspired Le Samourai’s line up with Jef Costello when Dix gets pulled in for a robbery. Great quote from the film comes via Alonzo D. Emmerich, “Crime is only a left-handed form of human endeavour”.

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