Ace in the Hole (1951)

Not Rated  |   |  Drama, Film-Noir  |  29 June 1951 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.2/10 from 17,906 users   Metascore: 72/100
Reviews: 145 user | 128 critic | 6 from

A frustrated former big-city journalist now stuck working for an Albuquerque newspaper exploits a story about a man trapped in a cave to re-jump start his career, but the situation quickly escalates into an out-of-control circus.


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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 3 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Herbie Cook (as Bob Arthur)
Porter Hall ...
Al Federber
Richard Benedict ...
Leo Minosa
Lewis Martin ...
John Berkes ...
Papa Minosa
Frances Dominguez ...
Mama Minosa
Gene Evans ...
Deputy Sheriff
Frank Jaquet ...
Sam Smollett
Harry Harvey ...
Dr. Hilton
Bob Bumpas ...
Radio Announcer
Geraldine Hall ...
Nellie Federber


Charles Tatum, a down-on-his-luck reporter, takes a job with a small New Mexico newspaper. The job is pretty boring until he finds a man trapped in an old Indian dwelling. He jumps at the chance to make a name for himself by taking over and prolonging the rescue effort, and feeding stories to major newspapers. He creates a national media sensation and milks it for all it is worth - until things go terribly wrong. Written by John Oswalt <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Rough, tough Chuck Tatum, who battered his way to the top ... trampling everything in his path - men, women and morals !


Drama | Film-Noir


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





| |

Release Date:

29 June 1951 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Big Carnival  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$1,821,052 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


When the film was released, it got bad reviews and lost money. The studio, without Billy Wilder's permission, changed the title to "The Big Carnival" to increase the box office take of the film. It didn't work. On top of that, Wilder's next picture, Stalag 17 (1953), was a hit and he expected a share of the picture's profits. Paramount accountants told him that since this picture lost money, the money it lost would be subtracted from the profits of "Stalag 17". See more »


When Tatum and Boot are talking in the Minosa's back room, the amount of alcohol Tatum pours in his glass changes. See more »


[first lines]
Charles Tatum: Hey. Pull up at the corner.
See more »


We're Coming, Leo
Written by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans
Performed by unidentified vocalist and band
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Billy Wilder should not call this powerful whiff of the journalism world "The runt" of his cinematic litter!
24 November 1998 | by (Huntington, NY) – See all my reviews

Billy Wilder's first commercial failure, but one of his best films, almost up there with "Sunset Blvd." Ambitious reporter Chuck Tatum (Kirk Douglas) finds out a man is trapped in a collapsed mine. By spewing out bogus engineering, he manages the rescue of the poor man to become more complicated, and time consuming then needed. Meanwhile, it becomes an amazing news item, something that makes Tatum the best known reporter in the country. However, everybody's luck runs out at the end. Perhaps the cause of failure of this film is that there are no sympathetic characters here. Douglas plays a total creep, the trapped man's wife is a floozy "I'm not going to pray for him! Praying ruins my nylons!" in the film. Even the trapped man is somebody who was poking around Indian graves. The screenplay, and the lead performances are top class. The extensive location photography, and somewhat documentary look of the film makes the film feel more modern than most 1951 films. Billy Wilder calls this film "the runt of his litter" Don't be so harsh, Billy, it's an excellent picture!

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