The first wave of urgency to escape the world of corruption, greed, and immorality inside the shady underground of the urban city ("the jungle"), is brought forth by protagonists Dix Handley and Alonzo Emmerich in two scenes of John Huston's The Asphalt Jungle. The first scene takes place in Dix's apartment as he talks to Doll Conovan about his aspirations to go back to his old farm in Kentucky, and the second scene is in Emmerich's study as he plots his escape the country with his detective Bob Brannom. Both Dix and Emmerich are determined to leave, and will seemingly stop at nothing to do so, even if it means stepping further into the jungle. Emmerich himself admits the irony: he's paradoxically forced to dig a deeper hole (in committing the crime) and become more immersed in the corrupt culture of the jungle in order to escape that same world.
[...] While Dix's infiltration through the depths of the jungle was a product of the devastating effects of the Great Depression and his own ambitiously flawed character, the path of Emmerich, a man of completely different class, education, and stature, is strikingly similar. Both men were absolutely blinded by their ambitions, which made them entirely oblivious to the people who cared about them most. Emmerich's and Dix's stories, one as a prominent lawyer and the other as a working-class farmer both driven into lives of fraud, suggest that the fault is not only within the profound humanness of their personalities, but also within American society in general. [...]
[...] Utter disarray permeates the apartment. Everything is disorganized and scattered. There are three shot glasses on the center table, newspapers are sprawled about, whiskey and liquor bottles are everywhere, there are two ashtrays full of cigarette butts, and right by the window sits a flower pot, with nothing sticking out of it, no sign of any sort of life coming out of the pot. The mess inside Dix's apartment represents not only the flaws of his humanness and his character, but a representation of the lower-class strata of society, which Dix and Doll occupy. [...]
[...] In the process, the jungle stole Dix's identity as a Handley line of honest, hard-working farmers) that he was so proud to have, and shifted it into something filthy, crooked, and corrupt, something he was determined to “wash but never could. Throughout this scene and the entire film, Huston suggests that this transition of a seemingly average, everyday citizen into an underworld criminal came easy to Dix, and that this was a direct reflection on the deterioration of morality in American society. [...]
[...] This is also the first time the viewer receives a justification for why such a wealthy and educated lawyer, with such an impressive library in his study, three exotic lamps, statues, a large painting of Thomas Jefferson, and fancy marble shades covering his windows, would want to invest in such a heist. If money makes Cobby sweat, having none makes Emmerich cry; it makes him human and emotive. Emmerich's emotions guide him into concluding that he needs to out from under.” Like Dix, it really makes no difference to him what kind of crime he commits, who gets hurt, or whether he abandons his dying wife and his estate, the crime itself is not important so long as he leaves the underworld. [...]
[...] Cavelli's dialogue with Gus, is the only moment in the entire film where a woman express any type of anger at the man that seemingly controls and overpowers her. This scene is one of many examples where women are trapped in this world as blindly loyal, supportive, and submissive people, doing everything the men tell them to, never earning a chance to even speak about their pasts or what drives their characters, whether it's Doll or Angela or Mrs. Emmerich or Mrs. [...]
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