The Asphalt Jungle (1950)

Toronto Film Society presented The Asphalt Jungle (1950) on Sunday, October 6, 2019 in a double bill with Armored Car Robbery as part of the Season 72 Sunday Afternoon Film Buffs Series, Programme 1.

Production Company: MGM.  Director: John Huston.  Producers: Arthur Hornblow Jr, John Huston (uncredited).  Screenplay: Ben Maddow, John Huston based on a novel by W.R. Burnett.  Music: Miklos Rozsa.  Cinematography: Harold Rosson.  Editor: George Boemler.  Art Direction: Randall Duell, Cedric Gibbons.  Set Decoration: Edwin B. Willis.  Release Date: June 1, 1950.

Cast: Sterling Hayden (Dix Handley), Louis Calhern (Alonzo D. Emmerich), Jean Hagen (Doll Conovan), James Whitmore (Gus Minissi), Sam Jaffe (Doc Erwin Riedenschneider), John McIntire (Police Commissioner Hardy), Marc Lawrence (Cobby), Barry Kelley (Lieutenant Ditrich), Anthony Caruso (Louis Ciavelli), Teresa Celli (Maria Ciavelli), Marilyn Monroe (Angela Phinlay), William “Wee Willie” Davis (Timmons), Dorothy Tree (May Emmerich), Brad Dexter (Bob Brannom), John Maxwell (Dr. Swanson).

This brutally frank story of crime and punishment was directed by John Huston—son of the late Walter Huston. John’s pictures were usually grim; for example, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948), but always dramatic and exciting. He wrote the screenplays for most of the 37 feature films he directed, including The Asphalt Jungle. Many of these films, like the two I’ve just mentioned, are today considered classics, including: The Maltese Falcon (1941); The African Queen (1951); The Misfits (1961); Fat City (1972); and The Man Who Would Be King (1975). During his 46-year career, John Huston received 15 Academy Award nominations, winning twice, and directed both his father and his daughter, Anjelica Huston, to Oscar wins.

Notes by Paul Bartl

SPOT THE CANADIAN

Henry Corden, who plays Karl Anton Smith in The Asphalt Jungle, was born on January 6, 1920 in Montreal, Quebec. His face might be familiar due to his many subsequent TV appearances, including recurring roles in I Dream of Jeannie and The Monkees. But his voice may be even more so, given his go-to man status in Hanna-Barbera cartoons, including taking over the voice of Fred Flintstone after originator Alan Reed died in 1977.

Also in the cast/crew: Joan Castle Joseff, born on August 12, 1912 in Cochrane, Alberta, was an exceptional costume jewellery designer who, alongside her husband, U.S.-born Eugene Joseff, created some of Tinseltown’s most fabulous faux tinsel. Constance Weiler—uncredited “woman”—was born on September 17, 1918 in an uncredited Canadian town. Russian-born, Canadian-raised Sydney Guilaroff was one of Hollywood’s top hairstylists. He worked at MGM for more than 40 years, contributing to more than 1,000 films. Recording supervisor Douglas Shearer from Westmount, Quebec was legendary in the business, both for his expertise and his technological advancements. In his lifetime, he won a total of 12 Oscars for Best Sound Recording, was the first person to win consecutive awards in any Oscar category, and received seven honorary Oscars, more than any other person. More on these two studio giants later….

Written by Leslie Smith

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