Ace in the Hole
Directed by Billy Wilder. US. 1951. NR. 111 minutes. Paramount. Digital.
Sun., January 10, 2016
When one speaks of tough and cynical film classics, this one, directed and co-written by Billy Wilder, is almost always rated as one of the most hard-hitting. The story concerns a desperate, down-on-his-luck journalist (Kirk Douglas, at his most intense) who learns of a man who is trapped in a mining accident and cynically exploits the “human interest story” by turning it into a media circus for his own gain. Though by no means a comedy, “Ace in the Hole” is filled with Wilder’s customary caustic wit and timing. Watch, especially, for the scenes featuring the trapped miner’s wife, played in a breakout role by Jan Sterling, who co-operates with Douglas and has some of the most biting dialogue (e.g. “I don’t pray. Kneeling bags my nylons.”) A story that has still much contemporary resonance, this is one of the toughest films of its time. (Bill Roth)