The Asphalt Jungle Blu-ray Review
“The Asphalt Jungle” is a classic film noir.
After being released from prison a criminal (Doc) approaches a bookie (Cobby) and eventually a lawyer (Mr. Emmerich) to help set up a heist to steal over a millions dollars worth of jewelry. In order to pull this off, Doc needs to enlist the help of a driver, a safecracker, and a hooligan (AKA the muscle). This is where Louis, Gus, and Dix (the main character of the film) enter the picture to take on those jobs for the heist. Alas, the heist goes awry due to double crossing, death, and police hot on the trail of those involved.
When it comes to the film noir genre (and the heist film genre for that matter), “The Asphalt Jungle” is easily in the conversation as one of the best film noirs ever made. The moody film by director John Huston (which is based on W.R. Burnett’s novel) might seem like a simple tale of “crime not paying” on the surface, but there’s a lot more going on this movie as it delves into subjects of death, law, corruption, desire, and morality. On top of that, it’s a refreshingly dark film that is intentionally light on action and more focused on the characters fate (whatever that may be). It’s rather ahead of its time in that respect as it was doing what modern entertainment like “Breaking Bad” was doing way back in the 50’s.
“The Asphalt Jungle” also boasts some first rate performances by Sterling Hayden (the down on his luck tough guy with a heart Dix), Louis Calhern (the scumbag lawyer), and Sam Jaffe as the complex Doc. Viewers should also look out for Marilyn Monroe in a small but memorable role as Angela.
Presentation: 1.37:1 1080p. How does it look? The 2K digital restoration is most impressive. The B&W print is so clean that you will have a hard time believing this film was from 1950.
Audio Track: Uncompressed Mono. How does it sound? Truth be told, this track sounds far more dynamic than the average Mono.
* A booklet featuring credits and an essay by author Geoffrey O’Brien.
* “The Asphalt Jungle” trailer.
* A 50 second archival interview excerpt with John Huston talking about “The Asphalt Jungle.”
* “Pharos of Chaos” A fascinating 1983 documentary following the underrated actor Sterling Hayden.
* An interview with Film Noir historian Eddie Muller about “The Asphalt Jungle.”
* An interview with cinematographer John Bailey about the stunning visual style of “The Asphalt Jungle.”
* A 1979 episode of the TV series “City Lights” featuring John Huston.
* “The Huston Method”- A 6 minute audio interview with John Huston over numerous still images and footage.
* A 2004 commentary by film historian Drew Casper mixed with audio recordings of actor James Whitmore.
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