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The Asphalt Jungle 1950

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Great film noir about a money heist gone all wrong. Great movie with great performances by great character actors.

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One of the best-known examples of film noir, John Huston's Asphalt Jungle follows the trail of an infamous heist-meister, fresh out of jail, and his plans to pull off one more big score before retirement. Sam Jaffe is cool-headed and convincing as the brains behind the operation, while a ragtag cast of backup anti-heroes pay the price as the whole thing slowly starts to unravel. A young Marilyn Monroe makes several scant appearances as nothing more than eye candy, still so green she can barely keep from looking straight into the cameras.

It's noteworthy that very few characters are as black and white as the film stock, a trademark of the genre, even if their motivations are ultimately sinister and selfish. A worthwhile slant on the heist picture that's crammed full of smoke and atmosphere, it expertly balances several different faces and pays off each story, most with especially dark consequences. Quite good, but not great, it creates some new conventions while bowing to many others.

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