Ace in the Hole
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Synopsis for
Ace in the Hole (1951) More at IMDbPro »

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Chuck Tatum (Kirk Douglas) is a driven and talented news reporter whose short temper and contempt for authority has gotten him fired from many of Americas best newspapers. Tatum finds himself broken down in Albuquerque and appeals to the local news paper editor Jacob Q. Boot (Porter Hall) for a job until he can scrape up enough money to get back to New York, or Chicago or some other big newspaper. Boot hires him but after a year Tatum roams around the newspaper office ranting over the lack of any news in the town.

Boot sends him and photographer Herbie Cook (Robert Arthur) to Los Brios to cover the annual rattlesnake roundup, but on the way, Tatum happens upon a real human interest story. Local merchant Leo Minosa (Richard Benedict) is caught in a cave in an old tunnel inside an ancient Indian burial location. The local Indians and Leo himself say Indian spirits may have caused the cave in because Leo has been raiding the mine for old religious relics. Tatum writes up the story with great hooks angling in the superstitious Indian lore, and focusing on Leo's wife Lorraine (Jan Sterling) as a faithful wife even though she wants to leave Leo.

Tatum's story gets picked up by the news services, and to insure that he keeps the rights, Tatum makes a deal with the local crooked sheriff Kretzer (Ray Teal) for help in isolating the location where Leo is. When Tatum learns that the rescuers can get Leo out in about 12 hours by shoring up the inside of the mine, he convinces the rescue crew to drill in from above instead, a job that will take 6 days and will give Tatum enough time to whip the story into a real career-changing event. As Lorraine agrees to allow people to come into to see the event for a price, she sees the profits at the diner increase greatly and a big-time newspaper editor from New York agrees to pay Tatum a huge amount for the story and give him his old job back. Leo begins to become ill as time passes and his health decides the futures of those making a profit from his demise.


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