Friday, November 20, 2015

At the Movies: "The Asphalt Jungle"

At the Movies with Michael5000

The Asphalt Jungle
John Huston, 1950.

imbd: 7.9
Rotten Tomatoes: 96% Fresh

The Asphalt Jungle is still talked about among movie fans for, well, a handful of reasons. It is apparently a fairly early entry in the heist genre, it’s thought to be a good example of film noir, it is a rare example from its era of a crime film that implicitly asks you to take the side of criminals, and it is the first significant appearance of Marilyn Monroe. Also, presumably people enjoy watching it.

Me, I wanted to watch it because I had learned that there is a character whose name is almost exactly the same as my father’s, with only a mere sibilant’s difference. This I had to see.

I like heist movies, but perhaps I’ve been spoiled by seeing too many of them that set out to out-heist Asphalt Jungle. In any event, and on the small screen, I was not as dazzled by the break-in sequence as I was led to believe I would be (by, among others, Kenneth Turan, who includes The Asphalt Jungle in his book Not to be Missed: Fifty-Four Favorites from a Lifetime of Film). As film noir… I don’t know. I can see how it conforms to some items on the film noir checklist, but it just didn’t feel very noir. Not to me. And as for the historical interest, suffice it to say that Marilyn Monroe’s part is pretty small, but long enough for her to seem pretty amateurish in it.

Did I enjoy watching it? Not especially. It felt like an “old movie,” in the mildly perjorative sense: showing its age, mildly amusing but without any particular distinction to recommend it from among our tens of thousands of other available choices.

Michael5000's imdb rating: 5.

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