Tuesday, April 29, 2008

MOVIE: ACE IN THE HOLE



ABOUT: Ace in the Hole is a 1951 American drama film. It marked a series of firsts for auteur Billy Wilder: it was the first time he was involved in a project as a writer, producer, and director; his first film following his breakup with long-time writing partner Charles Brackett, with whom he had collaborated on The Lost Weekend and Sunset Boulevard, among others; and his first film to be a critical and commercial failure.

The film is a cynical examination of the seedy relationship between the media and the news it reports and the manner in which it reports it. Without consulting Wilder, Paramount Pictures executive Y. Frank Freeman changed the title to The Big Carnival just prior to its release. Early television broadcasts retained that title, but when aired by Turner Classic Movies - and released on DVD by The Criterion Collection in July 2007 - it reverted to Ace in the Hole.

Kirk Douglas stars as Charles Tatum, a hard-drinking dishonest newsman who's been fired from several big-city papers and winds up, much to his chagrin, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. When he stumbles upon a small story, he decides to manipulate it into a big national media event. After Leo Minosa (Richard Benedict), the owner of a curio shop, is trapped underground digging at an Indian cliff dwelling, Tatum arranges with a corrupt sheriff and a greedy contractor to intentionally delay the rescue for days while he builds the story--and his exclusive rights to it--into a frenzy of activity. He is aided by Lorraine Minosa (Jan Sterling), the bitter wife of the trapped man.





REVIEW: I've never really cared for Kirk Douglas all that much. Most of the movies that he was in didn't look at all interesting to me, until I heard about Ace In The Hole. He is great in this movie and so is the whole cast. Which is pretty rare, I think, for a 50's film. Usually back then you get an actor or two in a movie that could just ruin it for you with their performance. But everyone here right down to the old guy who plays the trapped man's father, are really good.

Director Billy Wilder does a great job of showing off the New Mexico desert and the feel of a media circus spinning out of the hands of the man who created it.


BOTTOM LINE: WATCH IT!


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