Ace in the Hole (The Criterion Collection)
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Although Wilder had scored a success with Sunset Boulevard just a year earlier, he misread the public's ability to stare into the merciless mirror he held up to them in Ace in the Hole. The movie bombed. Paramount changed the title to The Big Carnival, thus wrecking one of Wilder's most acidic puns, but it didn't help. It also doesn't matter: Ace in the Hole is one of the truly grown-up movies of its time, and age has only improved it. Wilder's ear for cynical dialogue is honed to its sharpest point, and Kirk Douglas has one of his best parts, which he attacks with customary ferocity. Jan Sterling plays the hard-nosed wife of the trapped man, with Porter Hall as Douglas's publisher--the lone voice of decency in the film's cruel parade. Admirably, Wilder takes this all the way down the line: the ending of the movie might be the best in-your-face finish since Public Enemy. --Robert Horton
Top Customer Reviews
Criterion's release of this film is definitely cause for celebration.
This is among Billy Wilder's greatest films, though this has been long forgotten because the film bombed so badly at the box office (financially it was by far Wilder's worst film, lossing a great deal of money). Anyone who has seen many Billy Wilder films knows that he had a dark side and that while he would turn out many of the greatest comedies in the history of film, he could also turn out some of the bleakest films ever made. Moreover, even some of his comedies contain many cynical elements. ACE IN THE HOLE is the most despairing film Bill Wilder ever made.
The plot is simple. A former ace reporter is so far down on his luck that he has taken a job on a tiny New Mexico newspaper. When a man gets trapped in a mine collapse, he sees an opportunity to resurrect his career. On the inside, he crawls through the collapsed mine to the spot where the miner is trapped, interviewing him, bringing him food and water, befriending him, and giving him hope and comfort.Read more ›
ACE is a film so hard-hitting that it chills some 60 years after it's release; a film so cynical, acidic, and brutal that it has survived the test of time - indeed, becoming more relevant every day it ages. Billy Wilder's story of journalism and the media gone wrong is one that holds special weight in our modern society, and everything from the acting, to the razor-sharp script, to the cinematography and score (To this day, I still remember the tune to "Leo, Leo, Leo, Leeeooo!") comes together to make an unforgettable gut-punch of a masterpiece.
Kirk Douglas's electrifying performance as Chuck Tatum is still among cinema's greatest. In particular, it is his moralless, qualmless opportunism that sticks in the mind: "I can handle big news and little news. And if there's no news, I'll go out and bite a dog." The film centres around Douglas's character, a washed-up, cynical journalist who, when working for a small-town news agency, finds his big break: a man stuck in a cave. Exploiting the situation for his benefit, the incident spirals out of control into a media circus.
This is but the stage for a razor-sharp, darkly comic, exquisitely constructed masterpiece from Billy Wilder. Wilder above all directors had that talent to make his films "stick".Read more ›
The idea of a newspaper man covering the story of a trapped miner, exploiting and managing the "rescue" in order to sell the story to the media, was way ahead of it's time, which is why the picture flopped at the box office.
The people at Paramount don't seem to value the artistry inherent in this masterpiece. They probably only look at the numbers and figure, "well, it didn't make any money in 1951, so it won't make any now if we release it on DVD"
But they are wrong. This is a cult classic and on every film buff's must-have list.
Besides the acting and direction and the bitterly pungent screenplay, the arid b&w cinematography of Charles Lang and the moody, impressionist, noir music score by Hugo Friedhofer are absolutely perfect for this story.
By all means, write a letter to Paramount Home Video and demand that this film is given a DVD release. You can get their address from their website. I wrote them last year and they said there were no plans to release it. So that means waiting for it to show up on Turner Classic Movies, where I last saw it about 3 years ago.
But if they get enough letters, well, you never know...............
Most Recent Customer Reviews
As relevant today as ever. There has never been a more succinct, lurid, and surreal depiction of American media and the insanity that feeds it.Published 1 month ago by Luke Fuller
As relevant today as the year it was made. Great story, acting, and style - it's got it all.Published 1 month ago by Cynthia B
Who knew that the issues depicted in this film, vis a vis journalistic integrity ,would be our reality nearly 50 years later. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Regina Patterson
Terrific writing .... holds viewers interest... great acting. Rate it 9 out of 10Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
This is a great movie for a journalism class. Really shows a lapse in ethics in media.Published 4 months ago by TLF
Media, spin, responsibility,manipulation of events,
This older film is well written and acted portraying the media distorting the facts causing needless heartache and... Read more