One of the best times I've ever had at the movies was when I saw The Asphalt Jungle. It was back in 1950 and...no, wait, that's not quite right. I did see it in a movie theater though, and there was a newsreel and a cartoon right before it. I went with Scott to the Paramount Theater in Oakland, where they sometimes have a "Movie Classics" night. I'm not sure why we picked that particular night and movie, but it was a good choice. Basically, the only thing with which I was familiar was the director, John Huston, who also directed Treasure of the Sierra Madre and The Maltese Falcon. Little did I know that it was also the first film of one Marilyn Monroe, who's really smokin' in this film.
I have since bought it and watched it a few times, but it's not a film where I remember as much from it as I do the other movies about which I've written this month. It was part of a "Film Noir" box set. If you like old films with tough guys and dangerous ladies, I recommend those Warner sets. I have Volume 1 and Volume 4. The latter of which I got for about twenty bucks, and it comes with ten films. I don't remember a lot of details about each one, but I remember liking most of them, and I remember some great performances on the part of Ricardo Montalban, Edward G. Robinson, and Sterling Hayden.
Hayden is also in The Asphalt Jungle, and his performance is one of the best things about it. You might remember him as the cop that Michael shoots in The Godfather, but of course, in these film noirs, he's a bit younger. He essentially plays the same guy every time, but it doesn't matter. He always has a scowl on his face, and he looks like pretty much everything that's around him is really bothering him. I also recommend the Stanley Kubrick classic The Killing.
Anyway, back to my experience of watching this film. I think that aside from the fact that The Asphalt Jungle is a great movie, the best part was the audience. Everybody who was there was a fan of movies. After all, going all the way out to Oakland to see some movie from 1950 isn't something that people do just to pass the time. Everybody was laughing, cheering and applauding throughout - and not in an annoying way. We were all just having a good time. The Paramount Theater is a really gorgeous place as well, and it's too bad that theaters can't be like that anymore. I understand why, as it's not really very cost-effective, but you really feel like you're at an actual event instead of just seeing a movie.
The movie itself is a heist caper with an assortment of colorful criminals. Each one of them has his or her own set of hangups and idiosyncrasies. Basically, they're all people whose lives are total trainwrecks, and they feel like doing this one big score will straighten everything out. The only one who somewhat gets what he wants is Hayden's character, Dix Handley. Of course, he gets it with his dying breath, but these film noirs always have to end with the message that crime does not pay. One thing that I should also mention is his girlfriend in the movie. She's another trainwreck, but man does she ever try to get things together. She reminds me of a lot of people I know, as she doesn't exactly pick the type of man who's good for her.
I was going to watch a movie before going to bed tonight, and I was perusing my Blu-Ray collection. After writing this, I remembered that I have a few film noirs in my Netflix streaming queue. I think I'll check out one of them instead.