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The Asphalt Jungle (1950)

MGM entered the caper movie genre with this tense film noir. The 11-minute burglary scene was unusual for the day and inspired Jules Dassin’s later heist film Rififi (1955). But that wasn’t the picture’s only pioneering element. Heavily influenced by Italian neo-realism, director-co-writer John Huston set out to make the film as naturalistic as possible. He asked Miklos Rozsa to score the film unobtrusively and refused to cast established stars, insisting on making Sterling Hayden the lead. Even Marilyn Monroe, the biggest name to emerge from the picture, was just starting out. That realism extended to Huston’s humanizing treatment of the criminals. They’re not crazy or necessarily evil but, in the words of crooked lawyer Louis Calhern, just engaged in “a left-handed form of human endeavor.”

d. John Huston, 113m, DCP