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Ace In The Hole

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Tom’s Recommended Film of the Week



Ace In The Hole

After making the transitional, decaying Hollywood classic Sunset Boulevard, Billy Wilder turned his attention to another deteriorating American Institution, the field of journalism. With his cult classic Ace In The Hole, Wilder laid forth a dark and caustic view of one newsman’s search for the big story to exploit in an effort to reinvigorate his failed career.


Kirk Douglas
turns in the performance of a lifetime as Chuck Tatum, big city reporter, reduced to working at the Albuquerque Sun-Bulletin. Tatum walks a fine line between reporting stories and making news. His lack of integrity can be seen as a both a fault and an asset at various points in the film and we are drawn to his vibrant character while at the same time repulsed by his actions. The public reaction of mock concern as Tatum’s big story unfolds is mirrored by Jan Sterling’s cold, yet honest indifference to the plight of her unloved husband, who rests at the center of Tatum’s enterprise.

As the story ripples outward Wilder pulls in the broader national media and exposes the viewer to more of the base side of our human nature. In the ever-expanding circus of Tatum’s manipulation materializes a virtual tornado of heartless curiosity and cold capitalism making Ace In The Hole a superior noir story of ground breaking quality, awash in the blazing desert sun.

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