(Originally published in Rocky Mountain Bullhorn)
Welcome to The Asphalt Jungle, watch it bring men to their knees. In John Huston’s seminal crime flick, a crew of experienced hoods organized by a crafty German mastermind (Sam Jaffe), funded by a duplicitous businessman (Louis Calhern), and led by a bruising goliath (a mesmerizing Sterling Hayden) steals half a million in jewels, only to watch their carefully executed job undone by greed, vice, foolishness, and the harsh, unpredictable hand of fate. Aided by Harold Rosson’s plush black-and-white cinematography and a gravel-throated script by Ben Maddow and Huston, this rousing, foot-to-the-pedal cinematic caper is rich with brisk suspense, pretty dames (including a then-unknown blonde looker named Marilyn Monroe), and unsentimental macho attitude. It may not be the finest noir ever made, but it created the mold by which all other heist films are modeled, and still stands – 44 years later – as a preeminent example of tough-guy cinema.