Ace in the Hole

Ace in the Hole

A frustrated former big-city journalist now stuck working for an Albuquerque newspaper exploits a story about a man trapped in a cave to re-jump start his career, but the situation quickly escalates into an out-of-control circus.
Genres: Drama
Stars: Billy Wilder
Country: United States
Language: English , SpanishLatin
Year: 1951
Time: 111 min
IMDb: 8.2/10


Charles Tatum, a down-on-his-luck reporter, takes a job with a small New Mexico newspaper. The job is pretty boring until he finds a man trapped in an old Indian dwelling. He jumps at the chance to make a name for himself by taking over and prolonging the rescue effort, and feeding stories to major newspapers. He creates a national media sensation and milks it for all it is worth – until things go terribly wrong.
Plot Keywords: indian-burial-ground / indian / burial-ground / navajo-indian / zuni-indian
Taglines: Rough, tough Chuck Tatum, who battered his way to the top … trampling everything in his path – men, women and morals !
Certificate: Argentina:16 | Brazil:12 | Finland:K-16 | Iceland:L | Netherlands:12 | Netherlands:12 | Sweden:15 | United Kingdom:A | United States:Not Rated | United States:Approved | United States:TV-14 (TV rating) | West Germany:16
Cast: 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 , Roy Regnier , Oscar Belinda , Martin Bendleton , Timothy Carey , Basil Chester , Ken Christy , Stewart Kirk Clawson , Iron Eyes Cody , Francisco Day , Lester Dorr , Claire Du Brey , Edith Evanson , William Fawcett , John Stuart Fulton , Joe Gray , Charles Griffin , Larry Hogan , Frank Keith , Bob Kortman , Martha Maryman , Stanley McKay , Joe J. Merrill , Paul D. Merrill , Lee Miller , Ralph Moody , Bert Moorhouse , William H. O’Brien , Frank Andrew Parker , Martin Pendleton , William N. Peters , Jack Roberts , Bill Sheehan , Bert Stevens , John ‘Bub’ Sweeney


Company: Paramount Pictures
Country: United States
Language: English , Spanish , Latin
Released Date: 04 Jul 1951 (USA)
Year: 1951
Film Location: New Mexico Desert, New Mexico, USA

Technical Specs

Runtime: 111 min
Soundmix: Mono (Western Electric Recording)
Color: Black and White
Aspect Ratio: 1.37 : 1

User Review:

zinkster » One of Billy Wilder's great movies, with a superb acting job by Kirk Douglas as the cynical, glory-seeking and even desperate reporter whose only goal is get back in the limelight by regaining his former big-city news desk job.

The idea of such a newspaper reporter manipulating events to stretch out a story at the expense of and disregard for the victim still seems nearly inhuman, but Douglas' performance makes it instantly believable. The story scenario in which locals, then passers-by and finally distant tourists gravitate to and then make a festival or circus out of the event (the film was also released under the title "The Big Carnival") is supported by the real events on which the story was most likely based: the West VA mine disaster in 1925 that trapped miner Floyd Collins and was reported for 17 days, much as in the film, by local newspaperman Skeets Miller, who crawled into the mineshaft for face-to-face interviews with the trapped and doomed Collins.

This movie fits nicely into the Film Noir genre, although it takes place largely under the hot, harsh glare of the Arizona sun, highlighting the sweat and grime visible on the characters' skin and creating a visual metaphor for the sorry state of their souls. I wonder if Henri-Georges Clouzot saw this film before he began filming "The Wages of Fear," because the visually pervasive atmosphere of sweat and filth and opportunism are equally present in both.
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