Saturday, May 24, 2014

1951 - ACE IN THE HOLE, Wilder's tribute to the worst in mankind.

 Finally got around to watching this film.  Billy Wilder's very cynical take on just about everything is still really tough stuff even now.  It's kind of amazing this film even got made.  Didn't the studio read the script and realize that the film has almost no redeeming characters in it.  Wilder somehow must have had enough clout to get this film made.  However just watching Ace In The Hole you can't help but realize that it's commercial prospects were going to be very dim.

Wilder cast Kirk Douglas as the reporter Chuck Tatum.  Douglas plays him as a clever guy with a nasty sense of humor.  Throughout the film Douglas exploits the situation of the man trapped in a cave to rebuild his career as a reporter and Douglas plays him as a guy with almost next to no problem caring about the situation he has created.  It's a very tough tricky performance.  There clearly was no room for a William Holden or Jack Lemmon type in this Wilder film.

What you really come away with in Ace in the Hole are the crowd scenes and carnival atmosphere that arises as one man's personal tragedy is exploited by just about everyone.  Watching the masses of people get off the train and the line of cars driving to the cave in to be a part of the action is kind of intense.  Did Wilder really think Americans were that horrible?  Apparently so.

Billy Wilder had made some tough films before Ace in the Hole, like Double Indemnity and The Lost Weekend. This film actually did serious harm to his careerWilder pivoted over mostly to comedies for the remainder of this career and never made another film like this.

111 minutes

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