The Asphalt Jungle
Original music by Miklós Rózsa
Max Steiner, Roy Webb, David Raksin
Adolph Deutsch, and Andre Previn
Rhino Records, June 1997
18 Tracks, Total Time 73:14
Contains the title track from
The Asphalt Jungle, 1950,
dubbed from the original soundtrack.
Disc also includes dialogue tracks
in addition to music.
In 1950 Miklós Rózsa wrote the score for John Huston's film, The Asphalt Jungle, which dealt with the planning, execution and retribution of a million-dollar jewel store robbery, but struck a more coolly realistic, less histrionic tone than most of its predecessors. Dramatic music was restricted to two major episodes only--a prologue and epilogue--and Rózsa was asked by Huston to match in his music the kind of humanizing restraint he had tried to exercise in his direction.
Accordingly the music for the main titles and opening scene--a bleak cityscape with prowling, preying police car--irradiates tension in terms not of volume but of complex, agitated rhythms. All around those mean and desolate streets, the music tells us, a world is waiting to pounce: the "jungle" is already thrusting upwards, and its rhythms are accentuated by the "jungle" sound of tom-toms.
The finale called for a different type of commentary. Dix, the killer (Sterling Hayden), mortally wounded in a fight with the police, reaches his Hickory Wood Farm in Kentucky where he lived as a boy; and the music intensifies the pathos as Dix falls lifeless on the grass and the horses he talked so much about, and lost all his money playing, trot toward him and encircle his body. The end title music, which follows without a break, acts as a kind of emotional prolongation of this final image.
--CHRISTOPHER PALMER, from
The Composer in Hollywood.
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