HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Dark Phoenix
No Mercy
Arctic
Fate of Lee Khan, The
El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie
Ladyworld
Rocketman
Kid Who Would Be King, The
Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound
America America
Darkest Minds, The
Along Came Jones
Hummingbird Project, The
Under the Table You Must Go
Harry Birrell Presents Films of Love and War
Hanging Tree, The
Godzilla: King of the Monsters
Scooby-Doo! Camp Scare
Itsy Bitsy
Witchmaker, The
Prey, The
If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium
Happy Death Day 2U
Full Moon High
Strange But True
Kamikaze 1989
Never Grow Old
Time of Your Life, The
Mountain Men, The
Epic
Best Before Death
John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum
Isabelle
Non-Stop New York
Once Upon a Time in Deadwood
Oblomov
Alita: Battle Angel
We the Animals
Ibiza Undead
Wings of Eagles, The
   
 
Newest Articles
Rock On: That'll Be the Day and Stardust on Blu-ray
Growing Up in Public: 7-63 Up on Blu-ray
Learn Your Craft: Legend of the Witches and Secret Rites on Blu-ray
70s Psycho-Thrillers! And Soon the Darkness and Fright on Blu-ray
Split: Stephen King and George A. Romero's The Dark Half on Blu-ray
Disney Post-Walt: Three Gamechangers
But Doctor, I Am Pagliacci: Tony Hancock's The Rebel and The Punch and Judy Man on Blu-ray
Once Upon a Time in Deadwood: Interview with Director Rene Perez
Shit-Eating Grim: Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom on Blu-ray
Stallone's 80s Action Alpha and Omega: Nighthawks and Lock Up
Python Prehistory: At Last the 1948 Show and Do Not Adjust Your Set on DVD
You Could Grow to Love This Place: Local Hero on Blu-ray
Anglo-American: Joseph Losey Blu-ray Double Bill - The Criminal and The Go-Between
Marvel's Least Loved and Most Loved: Fantastic 4 vs Avengers: Endgame
Battle of the Skeksis: The Dark Crystal Now and Then
American Madness: Sam Fuller's Shock Corridor and The Naked Kiss on Blu-ray
Flight of the Navigator and the 80s Futurekids
Trains and Training: The British Transport Films Collection Volume 13 on DVD
Holiday from Hell: In Bruges on Blu-ray
The Comedy Stylings of Kurt Russell: Used Cars and Captain Ron
Robot Rocked: The Avengers Cybernauts Trilogy on Blu-ray
Hammer's Bloodthirsty Bad Girls 1970: Lust for a Vampire and Countess Dracula
Hammer to Fall: Kiss Me Deadly on Blu-ray
Home of the Grave: The House That Dripped Blood and Asylum on Blu-ray
Wondrous Women: Supergirl vs Captain Marvel
   
 
  Ace in the Hole All The News That's Shit To PrintBuy this film here.
Year: 1951
Director: Billy Wilder
Stars: Kirk Douglas, Jan Sterling, Robert Arthur, Porter Hall, Frank Cady, Richard Benedict, Ray Teal, Lewis Martin, John Berkes, Frances Dominguez, Gene Evans, Frank Jaquet, Harry Harvey, Bob Bumpas, Geraldine Hall, Richard Gaines
Genre: Drama
Rating:  8 (from 2 votes)
Review: Chuck Tatum (Kirk Douglas) is sitting in his broken down car as it is towed into Abuquerque and tells the driver of the recovery vehicle to stop outside the office of the local newspaper. Marching inside, Chuck asks the nearest journalist where can he find the proprietor, and is pointed to the office of Jacob Q. Boot (Porter Hall) who immediately tells him he isn't hiring. But this newspaperman from the East Coast isn't listening, and proceeds to deliver a spiel about what a talented reporter he is, never mind about those times he lost his job for libel or sleeping with the boss's wife, and Boot becomes intrigued, especially when he is informed he will make plenty of money by taking him on...

But a year passes and Tatum is in the same position, reduced to reporting on a rattlesnake hunt when he happens to stumble upon a genuine human interest story that seems guaranteed to make him his fortune and turn him from a nobody into a somebody again in the national press scene. However, this was Billy Wilder's take on a true life event of twenty-five years before, one of the first media circuses, and he had nothing but bile for the public who pruriently lapped up these tales, the more sensational and tragic the better, and those who peddled them, each exploiting one another for kicks and cash, all to divine entertainment out of very real suffering. In fact, the only person who came out of this extreme morality unscathed was Wilder himself.

Except, of course, it didn't work out that way, with the director complaining his audience were expecting a cocktail from him only to believe he had made them down a shot of vinegar instead; was he really all that surprised when the folks who attended his movies, and were getting to know his name as a mark of quality, should turn against him when he essentially accused them of being hypocrites and vultures, and if you did lay claim to any piety then frankly you were a moron? Nobody but an emotional masochist would wish to be told they were a terrible person for a couple of hours with no let up, yet that's what Wilder was delivering here and with such caustic enthusiasm that nobody escaped his glare. With Kirk Douglas as the bearer of the message that you were a moral vacuum, nobody did it better, either.

What Tatum finds on his drive to the rattlesnakes - and watch how reptilian imagery and metaphor frequently comes up in this movie - is a man trapped in a cave on an Indian reservation. It's looking bad for Leo Minosa (Richard Benedict) but very good for our antihero, since he can string out the rescue for a few days and build this little story up into a national story, then allow Leo to be saved at the last moment, thus simultaneously rescuing Tatum's career. What could possibly go wrong? How about the fact that everyone here is deeply flawed, except Tatum is cursed with the ability to see all this corruption with twenty-twenty vision and can therefore make the most of it while recognising he is bringing out the worst in everyone, from the crowds who gather to leech off the fame to the authorities happy to make a name for themselves as heroes.

They are nothing of the kind, merely as self-serving as Chuck or even - blaming the victim - Leo who likes the idea of the attention. There are those who turn to God to help such as his mother, but they spend all their time praying and no time at all doing anything practical to get him out, as meanwhile the trapped man's wife, Lorraine (Jan Sterling, the casting director truly earned his money here) notes the takings at her diner and makes a move on Chuck seeing as he is the alpha male now. Some have described Ace in the Hole as film noir, but if it is Lorraine is not the femme fatale, she's not intelligent enough as the real manipulator is Tatum, rendering him both a rare homme fatale and the architect of his own doom wrapped up in one unlovely package. Needless to say, Kirk was having a field day and at his most brilliant in this, conveying both his character's self-loathing greed and Wilder's absolute disgust at sharing the planet with this species called humanity. Is it enjoyable? That's debatable, but it has the quality of a sharp slap in the face, if that's your thing. Music by Hugo Friedhofer.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 2530 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (2)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star do you think makes the best coffee?
Emma Stone
Anna Kendrick
Michelle Rodriguez
Sir Patrick Stewart
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Paul Smith
Andrew Pragasam
  Rachel Franke
Enoch Sneed
Paul Shrimpton
  Desbris M
   

 

Last Updated: