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I Died a Million TimesGangster Noir in Midcentury America$
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Robert Miklitsch

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780252043611

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: September 2021

DOI: 10.5622/illinois/9780252043611.001.0001

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The Asphalt Jungle

The Asphalt Jungle

The City under the City

Chapter:
(p.165) 7 The Asphalt Jungle
Source:
I Died a Million Times
Author(s):

Robert Miklitsch

Publisher:
University of Illinois Press
DOI:10.5622/illinois/9780252043611.003.0008

If the syndicate picture privileges the system while the rogue cop film valorizes the individual, the “big caper” movie represents something of a synthesis. On one hand, the heist picture reposits the gang not in the alienated form of the syndicate but of the family, a tightly knit team that’s reminiscent of the army unit in the “combat film.” The sympathetic presentation of the crew in The Asphalt Jungle (1950) is one of the semantic elements, together with the ethos of professionalism, that distinguishes the classic heist picture from its ’40s predecessors. On the other hand, if the gang in the classic heist film is split between the individual criminal’s desire and a crew that demands the subsumption of that same desire in the interests of the greater good, fragmentation in the form of individual desire inevitably reasserts itself. In this sense, the law of desire understood as fate is inscribed in the very idea of a “big score,” a fatality endorsed, if not mandated, by the Production Code Administration and eloquently demonstrated by the dénouement of The Asphalt Jungle.

Keywords:   heist film, caper, gang, police, desire, The Asphalt Jungle

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