The Asphalt Jungle

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Sterling Hayden as Dix Handley

The Asphalt Jungle is a 1950 American film noir about a major heist that goes off as planned, until bad luck and double crosses cause everything to unravel.

Directed by John Huston. Written by Ben Maddow and John Huston, based on the novel by W.R. Burnett.
The City Under the City

Doc Riedenschneider

  • Experience has taught me never to trust a policeman. Just when you think one's all right, he turns legit.
  • One way or another, we all work for our vice.
  • Everything is here, from the observed routine of the personnel to the alarm system, the types of locks on the doors, the aging condition of the main safe, and so forth and so forth. Take my word for it, Mr. Emmerich, this is a ripe plum ready to fall...Perhaps you know my reputation. I've engineered some very big things.
  • They'll be paid off like house painters - they'll be told nothing about the size of the take. Sometimes, men get greedy.
  • They'll listen to reason. This is a very bad jolt for them. And it's possible they'll be willing to buy the jewels back, no questions asked, for as high as twenty-five percent of what they're worth.
  • Put in hours and hours of planning. Figure everything down to the last detail. Then what? Burglar alarms start going off all over the place for no sensible reason. A gun fires of its own accord and a man is shot. And a broken down old cop, no good for anything but chasing kids, has to trip over us. Blind accident. What can you do against blind accidents? One thing I ought to have figured and didn't was Emmerich. I know why I didn't. I'm not kidding myself. It was the extra dough he promised. I got hungry. Greed made me blind.
  • Home is where the money is.
  • I haven't carried a gun since my twenties. You carry a gun, you shoot a policeman. Bad rap, hard to beat. You don't carry a gun, you give up when they hold one on you.

Dix Handley

  • Why don't you quit cryin' and get me some bourbon?
  • Are you a man, or what? Trying to gyp and double-cross with no guts for it. What's inside of you? What's keeping you alive?

Police Commissioner Hardy

  • Let me put it this way. It's not anything strange that there are corrupt officers in police departments. The dirt they're trying to clean up is bound to rub off on some of 'em, but not all of 'em. Maybe one out of a 100. The other 99 are honest men trying to do an honest job. Listen... [One by one, he flipped the switch on police radios behind him that broadcast crime reports] I know you're police reporters and you hear this all day long, but I want you to listen with your conscience, not just your ears. We send police assistance to every one of those calls 'cause they're not just code numbers on a radio beam, they're cries for help. People are being cheated, robbed, murdered, raped. And that goes on 24 hours a day, every day in the year. And that's not exceptional, that's usual. It's the same in every city of the modern world. But suppose we had no police force, good or bad. Suppose we had [he flipped off all four radios] - just silence. Nobody to listen, nobody to answer. The battle's finished. The jungle wins. The predatory beasts take over. Think about it. Well gentlemen, three men are in jail, three men dead, one by his own hand. One man's a fugitive - and we have reason to believe seriously wounded. That's six out of seven, not bad. And we'll get the last one too. In some ways, he's the most dangerous of them all. A hardened killer. A hooligan. A man without human feeling or human mercy.


  • Dr. Swanson: He hasn't got enough blood left in him to keep a chicken alive.
  • Cobby: Here's to the drink habit. It's the only one I got that don't get me into trouble.
  • Cobby: How can things go so wrong? How is it possible? One man killed, two others plugged. I'm out thirty grand. We got a load of rocks we can't even peddle...I must be awful stupid. Here I am with a good business, money rolling in, I-I gotta get mixed up in a thing like this. I ought to have my head examined.
  • Commissioner Hardy: [referring to Doc] He loses you five blocks from the depot and one of the most dangerous criminals alive is now at large in this city.
  • Gus Minissi: Take my advice and knock off for a while. The happiness boys are on a rampage. Headquarters is givin' 'em a push...Go home, Dix, stay home. Don't get your flag at half-mast. Remember, you still got ol' Gus.
  • Emmerich: I could tell them that I'd fence the stuff myself, you see, promise them cash on delivery. Then, when the time comes, I simply wouldn't have the cash, do you understand? I'd tell them it would take a few more days to raise it. I'm certain I could get them to leave the stuff with me while we're waiting...Well, then I'd disappear. I'd take a plane to another country, to another life. The gold and platinum, I could melt up and sell as bullion, you see. And the rocks - sell them one at a time. There'd be no hurry. They'd last a lifetime.
  • Louis Ciavelli: I never saw a hooligan I did like. They're like left-handed pitchers, they all have a screw loose somewhere.
  • Louis Ciavelli: If you want fresh air, don't look for it in this town.
  • Angela Phinlay: Imagine me on this beach here in my green bathing suit. Yipe! I almost bought a white one the other day, but it wasn't quite extreme enough. I mean, don't get me wrong, if I really went in for the extreme extreme, I would have bought a French one. Run for your life, girls, the fleet's in. Oh, Uncle Lon, am I excited? Yipe! referring to the magazine's pictures of a tropical resort Look, Uncle Lon, isn't it romantic? Real palms and ocean and everything.
  • Angela Phinlay: Haven't you bothered me enough, you big banana-head? Just try breaking my door and Mr. Emmerich will throw you out of the house!


May Emmerich: Oh Lon, when I think of all those awful people you come in contact with - downright criminals - I get scared.
Alonzo Emmerich: Oh, there's nothing so different about them. After all, crime is only... a left-handed form of human endeavor.

Doc: I got a proposition. A big one.
Cobby: How big is big?
Doc: Too big for you, Cobby.
Cobby: Now wait, Doc. I don't like to brag, but I'm doin' all right. I'm makin' book, I'm in the chips. What kind of proposition is it?
Doc: A plan for the caper, and it's a good one. I could sell it for a hundred thousand dollars in the open market, but that would be throwing money away. I prefer to execute it myself and make...half a million dollars. [He pauses for dramatic effect.] Maybe even more. Of course, I will have to do a little checking as the plan is some years old. But not much checking, not much. I need roughly $50,000 to operate...

Truck Driver: [referring to stray cats] I run over one every time I get a chance. Some people feedin' cats and some kids haven't got enough to eat.
Gus: [Tosses the customer out by his coat-tails] If I ever see you runnin' over a cat, I'll kick your teeth out.

Doc: It's a matter of temperament. I cause no trouble. The prison authorities appreciate that. They made me assistant librarian.
Emmerich: I'm afraid I wouldn't make a model prisoner.
Doc: After this job, it's Mexico for me. I'll live like a king. Mexican girls are very pretty. I'll have nothing to do all day long but chase them in the sunshine.

Dix: I was up on that colt's back. My father and grandfather were there, watching the fun. That colt was buck-jumpin' and pitchin' and once he tried to scrape me off against the fence, but I stayed with him, you bet. And then I heard my granddaddy say, 'He's a real Handley, that boy, a real Handley.' And I felt proud as you please.
Doll: Did that really happen, Dix, well, when you were a kid?
Dix: Not exactly. The black colt pitched me into a fence on the first buck and my old man come over and prodded me with his boot and said, 'Maybe that'll teach ya not to brag about how good you are on a horse'...One of my ancestors imported the first Irish thoroughbred into our county...Why our farm was in the family for generations, one hundred sixty acres - thirty in bluegrass and the rest in crops. A fine barn and seven brood mares...And then everything happened at once. My old man died and we lost our corn crop. That black colt I was telling you about, he broke his leg and had to be shot. That was a rotten year. I'll never forget the day we left. Me and my brother swore we'd buy Hickory Wood Farm back some day...Twelve grand would have swung it, and I almost made it once. I had more than five thousand dollars in my pocket and Pampoon was runnin' in the Suburban. I figured he couldn't lose. I put it all on his nose. He lost by a nose...The way I figure, my luck's just gotta turn. One of these days, I'll make a real killin' and then I'm gonna head for home. First thing I do when I get there is take a bath in the creek, and get this city dirt off me.

Doc: What boxes have you opened?
Louis: Cannonball, double-door, even a few Firechests, all of 'em.
Doc: Can you open a vault with a time-lock and a re-locking device?
Louis: Sure.
Doc: What do you use? Lock or seam?
Louis: Seam...
Doc: How good are you as a pick-lock?
Louis: I can open anything in four minutes.

Doc: I'd just like to see the color of the money.
Emmerich: Gentlemen, I must admit at this moment, I, uh, I'm embarrassed.
Doc: You mean you haven't got the money, Mr. Emmerich?!
Emmerich: Oh, I have it - that is, I have the assurance of it...No, I haven't got the currency right here in my hands. But it's promised by an unimpeachable source. Gentlemen, I'm afraid we were a little hasty. We, uh, we moved too fast...So I'm afraid a few days more are needed to raise it...It wouldn't be safe for you to carry that stuff around...They're certainly gonna be looking for the big-timers, like yourself. Some smart cop might even connect this burglary with your release. Well, there you are.

Ditrich: We'll make ourselves a little deal with the commissioner. You won't get more than a year or two.
Cobby: I'm clean! I don't know where Doc went. That's the truth.
Ditrich: They won't believe you at headquarters, Cobby. Every time you'd tell 'em that, they'd work you over. And you ain't the type that can take it, believe me. You'd spill your guts in half an hour.
Cobby: Give me a break. You came to make a pinch, sure, but I'm not here...
Ditrich: You're right here, Cobby.
Cobby: I've always treated you right, Lieutenant. Let me duck out. You can get away with it.
Ditrich: No, I couldn't. The commissioner's mad. He's out for blood. And it's not going to be mine.
Cobby: You're not gonna stop me. You're gonna let me go. You're gonna do that. If you don't...
Ditrich: Yeah, I know. You'll be a grade-A pigeon.
Cobby: That's right. I'll tell 'em you saw Riedenschneider here and didn't roust him. Why? Because you had to explain what you were doin' here. I'll tell 'em about all the juice you've been gettin' out of me.
Ditrich: Cobby, the only thing you're doing is making me sore.
Cobby: Once I start singing, I won't stop. They'll jug you right alongside of me.
Ditrich: That's where you're wrong, Cobby. Even if they believe you, it won't go too hard with me. Because I'll be the guy that cracked the biggest case ever pulled in the country... [Cobby is repeatedly slapped until he whimpers and cracks under the pressure.]
Cobby: They'll call me a fink.
Ditrich: That's my boy.


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