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Ace in the Hole

Directed by Billy Wilder. US. 1951. NR. 111 minutes. Paramount. Digital.
Sun., January 10, 2016
January 10, 2016
2:00 pm

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)