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Ace in the Hole
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Ace in the Hole More at IMDbPro »

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Memory of this One Lingers Long

10/10
Author: malkomom from Penna
7 July 2012

I am a senior citizen who can watch and enjoy a movie then afterward, for the most part, forget it. This is one powerful exception. It isn't especially a story that you want to remember, but it reaches a deep level in your being which makes it unforgettable. Other reviews here tell of the washed-up journalist, who tragically milks a dangerous situation that befalls a man rather recently returned from WWII, who is trying to make a living for himself and his resentful, city-born wife in a barren desert place where his parents live. What I caught in this film that spoke the most to me was the fact that at the beginning of the picture, there was no price for admission at the entrance to the field where the cave was. One is soon posted there and is changed to a greater amount as the ever greater crowds of gawkers and vendors make the scene. This is simply a background detail that could easily be overlooked, but it signifies the dark heart of this story.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

several decades ahead of its time

7/10
Author: Michael Neumann from United States
7 November 2010

Billy Wilder's cynical view of Yankee ingenuity finds roving reporter/con artist Kirk Douglas searching for front page news and stumbling into a yellow journalist's dream come true when he finds an unlucky explorer trapped by a rockslide deep within a cave in desert New Mexico. To milk the story for all its worth he persuades the authorities to begin an unrealistic rescue operation designed to delay the victim's release for a week or more, allowing Douglas time to fan public interest to a fever pitch, while the clock slowly ticks away for the poor unwitting celebrity underground. This surely must rank among the more implicitly bloodthirsty dramas ever made; the whole idea might be hilarious if it weren't so frightening. In retrospect the film was clearly ahead of its time, anticipating by four decades the current glut of tabloid TV news posing as genuine human-interest journalism.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Ace In The Hole - It could only happen here ...

Author: Fred Hubner from United States
11 February 2005

There are two ideas that simply can not be applied to understand this film. First and most important, arguments claiming it's based on universal themes ... Well, this is a total non-sense ... it's Americana pantheon from start to finish. Loosely based on the Floyd Collins entrapment, back in 1925, also known as America's 'first true media spectacle' ... and believe me, it couldn't have happened anywhere but in the US of A. The monstrous drawbacks of America's culture. Walt Disney taught us that life can be made to look pretty ... Ace In The Hole will teach you that life just isn't as pretty as we paint; eventually some self-serving creeps will step in devising a variety of schemes which will allow them to explore and profit from the suffering of others.

Secondly; some reviews concerning this film level it with Dogville, accusing Billy Wilder of shamefully dangling explicit misanthropy and nakedly exercising his America-hating. Such finger-pointing, as much as I disagree with it, can easily stick on that scornful and grumpy has-never-been-in-the-USA Danish (aka The Wicked Witch of the Northeast), Lars Von Trier ... but will never hold if hurled at Billy Wilder.

With this film, Wilder aims his fire basically at the American media and its innate tendency of turning personal dramas into a freak show in order to maximize profits. Nowadays, the hysteria is not so widely used by serious newspapers and TV news broadcasting ... unless our President decides to invade another country. Kirk Douglas is perfect and you'll finish the film felling total contempt towards the character he enacted. I have no idea of how many times I've seen this film ... but definitely, I'll never have enough of it.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

The best movie treatment of journalistic ethics

Author: Robert Cornell (rc223@msm.cam.ac.uk) from Cambridge, England
11 January 1999

If you liked Mad City, this is a much better version of the same idea. Sleazy journalist Kirk Douglas comes unstuck when he tries to manipulate an accident for profit. Another classic from Wilder, intelligent, efficient, cynical.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Cynical noir with a stunning Kirk Douglas

10/10
Author: faraaj-1 (faraajqureshi2401@gmail.com) from Sydney, Australia
7 May 2006

I've seen a lot of famous classics for the first time after years of hearing about them. In most cases, the initial viewing is a let-down. Not so for The Big Carnival.

This is the last of Billy Wilder's three great noir's - the earlier two being Double Indemnity and Sunset Boulevard. The story, cracking dialogue and direction are almost as good as Double Indemnity and certainly better than Sunset Boulevard. The version I saw is titled The Big Carnival and thats a pretty apt title.

The story is pretty well known and I'm sure remade several times - Kirk plays Charles Tatum a scruple-less down-on-his-luck journalist who has to settle for a small-town newspaper job because none of the big newspapers wants to work with him on account of his loose morals and drinking habits. One year into his new job, he finds an opportunity to create a front-page story and manage the ensuing carnival for his self-promotion. His angle is ensuring exclusive coverage and prolonging the ordeal for poor Leo Minosa for as many days as he can. He certainly succeeds in turning the event into a carnival.

The first twenty minutes of the movie, I felt Kirk was acting a little over the top. But, as the momentum starting building up, I realised that was part of his personality. Witness the scene early on when one year has gone by and he is ranting and raving about it. The way his arms keep swinging like he's trying to throw off some shackles. Thats not over-acting. The script called for it.

The dialogue is excellent. The hard-boiled comment is famous but not the best. There are plenty of other memorable quotes.

While the premise is over-the-top, it is handled intelligently and the build-up is not rushed. Every scene is watchable and I call that great direction. The music score and photography are exactly what you would expect from a Grade A studio and a director like Billy Wilder at the peak of his abilities.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

A Magnificent Lost Noir

10/10
Author: Prof-Hieronymos-Grost from Ireland
29 July 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Charles "Chuck" Tatum{Kirk Douglas) is a $1000 a week down on his luck and unemployed big city reporter, who has been sacked from all his jobs, usually for drink or women. So when his car breaks down in New Mexico, he seeks employment at the local rag in Albuquerque, which he succeeds in doing for $60 a week, while promising to boost circulation and make the owner a rich man. Tatum only intends to stay a week to get some money to repair his car, but like the best laid plans, one year later he is still working for peanuts and disillusioned that he hasn't got that big story that would break him into the big time again. Almost by accident he stumbles across that very story at a local Indian souveneir store in the desert, where a local man has been trapped in an ancient cave dwelling some hundreds of feet below the surface. Tatum sees his chance and takes it, he goes down to see the man who is trapped and gets an exclusive interview and pictures, but the mans no good wife packs to leave but is stopped by Tatum when she realises the story has plenty of legs, and people are starting to get interested she sees a chance to make a buck or two, Tatum cajoles the local sheriff to help him in return for glowing praise which will help the sheriff get re-elected….The sheriff sees to it that no other press can gain access to this exclusive. But never is the greed of this film exemplified better than when Tatum arranges with the rescue crew to take the longest route to rescue the trapped man so that he can make a killing financially but in doing so, endangers the life of the trapped man. A brilliantly realized satire on peoples greed, full of cynicism and sparkling wit and a terrible indictment of the press. a true lost Noir classic…

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Aces High

10/10
Author: (busterkeaton11731@yahoo.com) from long island, n.y.
19 May 2005

One of Billy wilder's most overlooked films,and a critical and box office flop in it's time that looks better with every viewing! Re-released under the tittle "The Big Carnival",the name under which I first saw it on TV,it did little better. There are NO good guys in this one ,save perhaps the newspaper editor who hires Tatum in New Mexico. Everyone is out for themselves and they don't care who they step on to get what they want.Inspired by the story of a miner trapped in a tunnel in the late 1920's but it has little to do with that story beyond the general theme. Wilder's dialogue is as always crisp and well written,showing why he refused to allow his actors to improvise.("If I'd wanted you to say THAT,I would have written it that way!")It's a shame that this film is not yet available on video in any format.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Behind the Media Circus

8/10
Author: gbheron from Washington, DC
31 January 2000

Billy Wilder's exploration of the dark side of modern mass media follows a down-on-his luck newspaper reporter (Douglas) who is trying to resuscitate a failing career while working on a local paper in Albuquerque NM. He's looking for that big story to put him back in the national spotlight, a spotlight he was in once, but lost through boozing and womanizing. Almost giving up hope he stumbles upon the scene of a cave-in where a lone artifact collector is trapped below the surface. Douglas takes over the rescue effort, stretching it out and manipulating it for his own gain. Soon he is being aided by the man's wife and the local sheriff, all who stand to gain in their own ways by prolonging the rescue.

Made in 1951 when mass media meant newspapers and radio (at least in this movie), the moral issues addressed here by Wilder are as germane today as then. The actors and Wilder have made this movie a thinking person's treat. Highly recommended.

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4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Filmed Along With Sunset Boulevard, Billy Wilder Film Noir

10/10
Author: FloatingOpera7 from United States
6 April 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Starring: Kirk Douglas, Jan Sterling, Richard Benedict, Robert Arthur, Porter Hall, Ray Teal, Frank Cady and Bob Bumpas "Well, now he's dead. You can all go home. The Carnival is over"- Kirk Douglas to the circus folk.

Filmed at the same time as Sunset Boulevard, director Billy Wilder's "Ace In The Hole or "The Big Carnival" is a dark film noir starring a young Kirk Douglas, who only ten years later would make it big as Spartacus on the big screen. This movie never enjoyed much success, considering Sunset Boulevard was the more famous film at the time. Kirk Douglas plays Chuck Tatum, who has just been hired for a local newspaper in a small, dull town. He clashes with the editor and anxious for a good bit of news, somethin wild and shocking, discovers that a man has been traped under a big cave mine (Richard Benedict). He keeps him down there long enough to entice the media who make a carnival to donate money for his rescue. He has his story but it has cost him his humanity. His wife (Jan Sterling) desires Chuck but he refuses her advances. The people, from the sheriff to the people in the small New Mexico town, are corrupt. Much of the story is dark and tinged with sarcasm and satirical humor. This was a film which, in 1951, was a product of its time, the cynical post-World War II film noir film. The ending, in which Chuck discovers how his "story" cost a man's life and eventually casues him to have a stroke and die, is melodramatic and biting in its cynical theme. This is an enjoyable movie and has its own merits but it lacks the warmth and more inviting humor in Sunset Boulevard.

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4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

A movie that works today as good as it worked back then

Author: Petri Pelkonen (petri_pelkonen@hotmail.com) from Finland
9 July 2004

Kirk Douglas plays a reporter called Charles Tatum, who comes to work in a small town where nothing interesting ever happens.But then something interesting does happen and he can get an exclusive story on the newspaper.He finds a man trapped in a mine.He does everything to keep him there.Ace in the Hole (1951) is a brilliant Billy Wilder movie that criticizes the media.The actors are great as always in Wilder films.There are Jan Sterling as Lorraine Minosa, Richard Benedict as Leo Minosa, Robert Arthur as Herbie Cook and Kirk Douglas is wonderful in the lead.This now 87 year old actor has done some great roles during his career and this is one of them.The dialog is also excellent which was also typical in Wilder's movies.Watch this movie and see how a movie should be made.

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