Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

The Asphalt Jungle (1950)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

The Asphalt Jungle (1950)

In director John Huston's film noir and crime caper-heist:

  • the scene of mastermind criminal Erwin "Doc" Riedenschneider's (Sam Jaffe) explanation of his proposed robbery - to steal jewels worth more than $500,000
  • the minor memorable cameo role of a blonde, voluptuous mistress Angela Phinlay (Marilyn Monroe) who was kept by corrupt lawyer Alonzo Emmerich (Louis Calhern) - to his distaste, she called him "Uncle Lon" and he called her "some sweet kid"
Emmerich's Mistress or "Niece"
Angela Phinlay (Marilyn Monroe)
  • the realistic depiction of all the criminals and their motivations in the crime: the three hired crooks: "box man" (safecracker) Louie Ciavelli (Anthony Caruso), a getaway driver - hunchbacked diner owner Gus Minissi (James Whitmore), and a "hooligan" named Dix Handley (Sterling Hayden)
  • the actual jewel robbery and the clinically-delineated details of the tense heist (the hammering through a brick wall, the nitro bottle with home-made "soup", the alarm system, etc. )
  • the unraveling of the successful robbery due to some of the crooks being shot (and later dying), and a double-cross
Emmerich with Brannom (Brad Dexter)
The Double-Crossing of "Doc" and Dix
  • the sequence of "the big fixer" Emmerich's double-cross (with his own armed private detective Bob Brannom (Brad Dexter)) of both Dix and "Doc" when he delayed payment for the jewels and suggested taking possession of the jewels from "Doc" - at gunpoint
  • afterwards, the revelation of Emmerich's corruption to his wife May (Dorothy Tree), who feared his many associations with "awful people...downright criminals" - he replied to her: "Oh, there's nothing's so different about them. After all, crime is only a left-handed form of human endeavor"
  • the scene of Emmerich's alibi (through Angela) revealed to be a lie; when threatened with arrest, Emmerich retreated to a side room to write an apology-suicide note to his wife May, but then he tore up the note into pieces, reached for a gun in the desk drawer, and committed suicide (the gun-shot was heard off-screen)
  • Doc's apprehension by police after he stopped at a roadside diner during his getaway; he obsessively (and voyeuristically) leered at a young girl named Jeannie (Helene Stanley), then gave her a bunch of coins to put in the jukebox ("Play me a tune") and watched her dance to the music - his delayed departure (he believed he had "plenty of time") led to his arrest - two policemen watched him from outside through venetian blinds
  • the press conference sequence of Police Commissioner Hardy (John McIntire) delivering a moralizing speech to reporters about rampant crime - illustrated by four radio speakers (lined up in a row) that broadcast crime reports: "...But suppose we had no police force, good or bad. Suppose we had (he flipped off all four radios) - just silence. Nobody to listen, nobody to answer. The battle's finished. The jungle wins. The predatory beasts take over. Think about it..."
Dix's Death in Kentucky Horse Pasture
  • the final scene of a bleeding Dix Handley stumbling from his car into Hickory Wood Farm (his father's Kentucky horse farm lost during the Depression, and his own childhood home) - he staggered, collapsed and died in a sunny horse pasture amidst four grazing and nuzzling colts he had dreamed of owning

"Doc's" Detailed Explanation of Jewel Robbery

The Tense Heist: "Doc" and "Dix"

Emmerich: "Crime is only a left-handed form of human endeavor"

Emmerich's Torn Suicide Note

"Doc" Leering at Jeannie Dancing to Jukebox Music While Police Readied to Arrest Him

Commissioner Hardy (John McIntire)


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