8.2/10
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167 user 145 critic

Ace in the Hole (1951)

Not Rated | | Drama, Film-Noir | 4 July 1951 (USA)
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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.

Director:

Billy Wilder
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 4 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Kirk Douglas ... Chuck Tatum
Jan Sterling ... Lorraine Minosa
Robert Arthur ... Herbie Cook (as Bob Arthur)
Porter Hall ... Jacob Q. Boot
Frank Cady ... Al Federber
Richard Benedict ... Leo Minosa
Ray Teal ... Sheriff Gus Kretzer
Lewis Martin Lewis Martin ... McCardle
John Berkes ... Papa Minosa
Frances Dominguez Frances Dominguez ... Mama Minosa
Gene Evans ... Deputy Sheriff
Frank Jaquet ... Sam Smollett
Harry Harvey ... Dr. Hilton
Bob Bumpas Bob Bumpas ... Radio Announcer
Geraldine Hall Geraldine Hall ... Nellie Federber
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Storyline

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 <jao@jao.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Drama | Film-Noir

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Spanish | Latin

Release Date:

4 July 1951 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Human Interest Story See more »

Filming Locations:

USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,800,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$3,969,893
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Paramount Pictures See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In a 1950 memo to Billy Wilder, Kirk Douglas objected to several aspects of Chuck Tatum's monologue about missing New York City: "No pastrami! No garlic pickles! No Madison Square Garden! No Yogi Berra!", among other things. Douglas asked, "... what the hell is a Yogi Berra?". Douglas' secretary, who was amused her boss didn't know who the New York Yankee star was, told him he was a catcher. See more »

Goofs

When Tatum and Herbie walk out to their dust-covered car after all the people left, handprints from where Tatum leans on the car can be seen in the dust indicating that they shot the scene numerous times and decided to put one of the later takes in the movie. See more »

Quotes

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

Connections

Referenced in Permanent Midnight (1998) See more »

Soundtracks

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

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
The plot is based on real events
26 April 2007 | by castolonSee all my reviews

The movie very closely parallels the real events of January 30 to February 16, 1925 in terms of the general story line. There are some significant differences concerning the actions of the characters.

Floyd Collins, a cave explorer working alone (not a real good idea), was trapped in Sand Cave KY, near Mammoth Cave. He was not looking for treasure, but for a new cave suitable for commercializing to produce income in an economically depressed region...and this was before the Depression occurred.

He became trapped on the way out of the cave by a 27 lb. rock which rolled onto his leg in a narrow crawlway. The configuration was such that it could not be moved enough to get his foot past.

When he failed to return home, the family went searching and quickly found him only 150' inside the cave.

A huge rescue effort was mounted and a cub reporter, Skeets Miller, from Louisville KY showed up to cover the story. It became one of the three most widely broadcast events of the time. Besides the extensive newspaper coverage, the relatively new medium of commercial radio riveted listeners with hourly accounts. It quickly became the first media circus ever seen.

Because of the print and radio coverage people began flocking to the site. A carnival atmosphere did indeed spring up around the cave. The state police and National Guard were called out by the governor to control the chaos and the more than 20,000 onlookers. The similarity between the real event and the movie on this account are likely nearly identical.

As in the movie, a decision was made to drill a shaft and, also as in the movie, the rock was fairly unstable and prone to collapse from the pounding of the cable tool drilling rig. The longer the effort went on, the more unstable the cave passage became.

Unlike Kirk Douglas' character in the movie, Skeets Miller served a most honorable role. Due to his small build he became one of very few persons able, and eventually the only one willing, to enter in an attempt to deliver food and water to Collins. He received a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting. Also unlike the movie, there was no manipulation of the event to delay the rescue, but there was considerable disagreement over how to best do it. Area coal miners made the initial attempts and the event concluded with the above-mentioned shaft.

Collins was presumed to have died 3 days before rescuers reached him. Because the conditions were so unstable, the body was left in the cave. The family was able to remove him about 80 days afterward for a proper burial. Later, his glass-topped casket was returned to the now-commercial cave as a tourist attraction. It was removed once again, and finally, in 1989.

In 1982, a definitive account of the event was published in the book 'Trapped!'. A most informative read.

In a take-off of the 'Free Tibet' bumper stickers, vehicles are occasionally seen with a 'Free Floyd Collins' sticker.


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