Logline: A frustrated journalist (Kirk Douglas) exploits a story about a man trapped in a cave, generating a media circus that spirals out of control.
Review: Billy Wilder was a great filmmaker, who directed such classics as Double Indemnity (1944), Sunset Boulevard (1950), Stalag 17 (1953), Witness for the Prosecution (1957), Some Like It Hot (1959), and The Apartment (1960). My favorite Wilder film, though, is without a doubt Ace in the Hole, a film that failed at the box office upon its release in 1951 and even today, is often overlooked.
Written, produced, and directed by Wilder, Ace in the Hole is as relevant today as it was in 1951. Its depiction of the media circus seems prophetic. As ruthless journalist Chuck Tatum, Kirk Douglas is simply fantastic. He plays the kind of character that one loves to hate. The dialogue is razor sharp. In one scene, Tatum quips “I can handle big news and little news. And if there’s no news, I’ll go out and bite a dog.”
There are no happy endings in Ace in the Hole. It is an uncompromisingly dark film with moments that range from funny to outright shocking. In the days and years since the film’s release, the media circus that has engulfed the nation has spiraled more and more out of control. Wilder knew exactly what he was doing.
Great scene: Two words. Kirk Douglas.