Reel/Real Impact: Asphalt Jungle (1950)

asphalt_jungle_2John Huston’s The Asphalt Jungle, arguably his masterpiece, was one of the best and most influential crime films of the 1950s, earning four Oscar nominations, though winning none.

The film spawned a TV series, The Asphalt Jungle, starring Jack Warden, Arch Johnson, and William (Bill) Smith, which ran on ABC for 13 episodes in 1961. The series took major liberties, except for one episode, “The Professor,” sort of a sequel to the feature. None of the film’s characters appeared in the TV series, and the plot centered on the Los Angeles Police Department. The theme song by Duke Ellington was popular.

Burnett’s novel The Asphalt Jungleinspired  the Delmer Daves Western The Badlanders (1958), and the blaxploitation Cool Breeze (1972), directed by Barry Pollack.

The Asphalt Jungle launched a cycle of crime and caper thrillers both American and foreign, including the 1955 French film Rififi, by blacklisted Jules Dassin, living in Paris.

In 2008, The Asphalt Jungle was selected for preservation in the US National Film Registry for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”

Acting wise, it put Marilyn Monroe on the map as a “serious” actress, in a year in which she also made an inpression in the Oscar-winning “All About Eve.”