No messing around. Lets drop the score. Yep it’s a straight 10. Been sitting on The Asphalt Jungle for a while. You know the feeling. You know full well that it’s gonna hit the spot. Enough people have nudged me. I’m sure you’re like me? It’s gotta be the right time, you want that perfect time. That perfect head space to sit back and let it flood over you. Last night was that time. Damn man! Was it fantastic! Ready to watch it again. Not only did it look incredible and believable, you could feel the sweat and hot heads bursting through the screen. All the characters felt rounded and real. Every single player dropped into the drama. They all linked perfectly up with the other. Each move, how big or small, effected the next play like a chain of events that fell fateful into place. The darkness, the grimy opening dirty streets. The sweat, the tension, the running and the pounding of fists.
No real spoilers. I’m just gonna introduce all the players connected in the crime. You’ll find dialogue and random quotes. To be honest there’s not a single line lost within the film. The script is busting out, on fire from the start.
The Asphalt Jungle was at first a novel in 1949 by W R Burnett. Director John Huston helped out on the script with Ben Maddow who wrote the screenplay. What they create together is a crime movie that I can only imagine inspired directors and writers for decades to come…………
Tagline – “A story of the sin-sodden shadows of a great city”
Police Commissioner Hardy played by John McIntire
The Justice. The wily sharp Police Commissioner has seen it all before. Years on the force has made him delve inside the criminal mind. He knows the workings of each as an individual but can he predict what this newly formed group of wise guys and degenerates are up to?
“People are being cheated, robbed, murdered, raped. And that goes on 24 hours a day, every day in the year. And that’s not exceptional, that’s usual. It’s the same in every city in the modern world. But suppose we had no police force, good or bad. Suppose we had… just silence. Nobody to listen, nobody to answer. The battle’s finished. The jungle wins. The predatory beasts take over.“
Gus Minissi played by James Whitmore
The Driver. A tough steadfast dinner owner. He’s punchy. Ready to fight. Years of torment for his hunched back and small size have shaped this man like stone. Dependable and committed. If you are his friend he will stay loyal and help when ever he is needed. He’ll take the heat and won’t flap his lip.
“You dirty fink! You’re gonna wind up where you belong! You’re gonna wind up in the morgue! You wait and see, you dirty fink! Home of the pigeons! Fink! Fink!“
Dix Handley played by Sterling Hayden
The Muscle. Towering thuggish hulk. Rugged, gritty and filled with brute force. A handsome man but deeply damaged by drink and gambling. Bitter with life and trusts no one. Only thinks with his fists. Dreams of returning home to his childhood family life with horses and a simpler time.
“Why don’t you quit cryin’ and get me some bourbon?“
Doc Erwin Riedenschneider played by Sam Jaffe
The Mastermind. A small German career criminal recently released from prison after a seven year stretch. He has an unassuming demeanor which hides his wise criminal ways. He’s almost invisible but his plan is grand. A fortune in diamonds. A jewel heist. The plan is foolproof. He’s planned it all during his sentence. He knows what he want’s to spend it on. Fat cigars and young dancing ladies.
“Ever been in Mexico City, Dix? It’s 8000 feet up. The air is very pure. Many first-class clubs, restaurants, a horse track and girls. Beautiful young girls. How would you like to go there, all expenses paid?“
Doll Conovan played by Jean Hagen
The Girl. Slightly damaged by life. A stripper maybe? Could be turning tricks for cash. An alcoholic trying to keep her head above ground? There’s a kind heart under the tears. She’s desperate for love from Dix. She’s in love but he’s emotionless. She would be there for him if he’d have her.
“They raided the Regal. The cops must of all gone crazy. So it’s a clip joint, so what? And it had have to happen on pay night!“
Alonzo D. Emmerich played by Louis Calhern
The Money Man. The demeanor of a lawyer. Suave and elegant but sly and over confident. He’s got a promise of cash to fund the heist. The opportunity to make some big bucks. His unwell wife lays alone upstairs whilst he entertains his pretty blond plaything lounging around downstairs.
“Married 20 years, consorting with a woman young enough to be his granddaughter. It’s disgusting! But nothing about Emmerich would surprise me. Educated man who uses brains to circumvent the law. Worst type of human being.”
Angela Phinlay played by Marilyn Monroe
The Blond. Happy to have a sugar daddy she calls Uncle Lon. She smiles and looks gorgeous with the lure of gifts. A little hollow headed? She can be loyal for fancy new bathing suits and the promise of sunny vacations.
“Imagine me on this beach here in my green bathing suit. Yipe! I almost bought a white one the other day but it wasn’t quite extreme enough. I mean, don’t get me wrong, if I really went in for the extreme, extreme, I woulda’ bought a French one. Run for your lives, girls, the fleet’s in. Oh, uncle Lon, am I excited. Yipe!“
Bob Brannom played by Brad Dexter
The Private Detective. Hired by Alonzo D. Emmerich. A tough, confident burly set guy. Sent to collect owed money for his employer. Has a gun at the hip. He has it all sussed out. No one tells him what to do. He likes a drink. Never easy on the liquor.
“Half-drunk, I got better wits than most people. And more nerve.“
Louis Ciavelli played by Anthony Caruso
The Safe-cracker. A recent father. Bills to pay and adoring, loving wife. He was a career safe-cracker. Hung up his explosives now fatherhood had arrived. He needs money. Cramped up in a one room apartment is no place for them. Besides he’s an expert with “the soup”. Yep nitroglycerine. He trusts Gus, only Gus. He’s in.
“There’s only one driver, as far as I’m concerned. Gus Minissi. Ask Cobby, he knows him.“
Cobby played by Marc Lawrence
The In-between Man. Sweating, always sweating. Pencil thin mustache and oiled slick back hair. What little hair he has left that is. He knows everyone. From street hustlers, dirty cops and more. A man of many rackets. Has the cash to sweeten palms. Cash that makes him sweat. More every time he has to hand it out. He like’s his bourbon and has all the numbers, the contacts, the men.
“Here’s to the drink habit. It’s the only habit I got that don’t get me into trouble.“
The atmosphere and gritty street talk dialogue pushes the boundaries of this heavy beautifully written script. It’s brutally realistic. You care for and hate different characters in equal amounts. You can’t help but let it all get under your skin. The heat, the worry, and stress and…. death! As you can tell, I loved it. I’m sure you did/would to, let me know your thoughts on this masterful crime dram noir.
Thanks for having a read and I apologise for the lack of posts the last few months. Starting to get my movie review mojo back. All the best. Mikey Wolfman.
PS to sign off here’s some choice pieces of script and a few ace posters.
“Sounds like a soul in hell….“
“That bullet just ripped through my side and went about it’s business….“
“It was no drowning! He had a hole right through his pump!….“
“There ain’t enough blood in him to keep a chicken alive!….“