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Ace in the Hole (The Criterion Collection)

Kirk Douglas , Michel Ciment , Michel Ciment , Billy Wilder    Unrated   DVD
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Product Description

Special Features

Restored 4K digital transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray.Audio commentary by film scholar Neil Sinyard. Portrait of a “60% Perfect Man”: Billy Wilder, a 1980 documentary featuring interviews with Wilder by film critic Michel Ciment. Interview with actor Kirk Douglas from 1984. Excerpts from a 1986 appearance by Wilder at the American Film Institute. Excerpts from an audio interview with Wilder’s co-screenwriter Walter Newman, Video afterword by filmmaker Spike Lee, Stills gallery, Trailer, PLUS: Essays by critic Molly Haskell and filmmaker Guy Maddin

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By J. Lovins TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:DVD
The Criterion Collection presents "ACE IN THE HOLE" (1951) (111 min/B&W) (Fully Restored/Dolby Digitally Remastered) -- Also released as "The Big Carnival", this disturbing noir tells of a frustrated former big-city journalist who is now stuck working for a small Albuquerque newspaper --- He sees his chance of returning to the big time when he exploits a story about a man trapped in a cave, but the situation quickly escalates into an out-of-control circus.

Oscar nominated for Best Screenplay --- Powerful portrayal by Kirk Douglas joining "Detective Story" of the same year as two of the very best from Kirk.

Under the production staff of:
Billy Wilder [Director/Screenplay/Producer]
Lesser Samuels [Screenwriter]
Walter Newman [Screenwriter]
Victor Desny [Story]
William Schorr [Associate Producer]
Hugo Friedhofer [Original Film Score]
Charles Lang [Cinematographer]
Arthur P. Schmidt [Film Editor]

BIOS:
1. Billy Wilder [Director]
Date of Birth: 22 June 1906 - Sucha, Galicia, Austria-Hungary [now Sucha Beskidzka, Malopolskie, Poland]
Date of Death: 27 March 2002 - West Los Angeles, California

2. Kirk Douglas [aka: Issur Danielovitch Demsky]
Date of Birth: 9 December 1916 - Amsterdam, New York
Date of Death: Still Living

3. Jan Sterling [aka: Jane Sterling Adriance]
Date of Birth: 3 April 1921 - New York City, New York
Date of Death: 26 March 2004, Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, California

the cast includes:
Kirk Douglas - Chuck Tatum
Jan Sterling - Lorraine Minosa
Robert Arthur - Herbie Cook (as Bob Arthur)
Porter Hall - Jacob Q. Boot
Frank Cady - Mr.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Blu-ray|Verified Purchase
Ace in the Hole is a scathing indictment of the media's ability to transform one man's tragedy into a national three ring circus media event. Alas, its prophetic statement - deemed ridiculous in 1951 - has since come to pass. We're through the looking glass on this one, people. Kirk Douglas gives us a scathing central performance so contemptibly corrupt and morally bankrupt, he chills to the bone.

Criterion's new restoration looks solid for the most part. But the credits continue to be marred by excessive dirt and scratches while the rest of the feature is plagued by marginal, though reoccurring, edge enhancement. Otherwise, this one's up to Criterion's usual high standards and packed with some 'must have' extras, including an hour long interview with Wilder and snippets of interviews from other collaborators. Enjoy.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of Billy Wilder's Masterpieces May 3 2007
By R. Sohi
Format:DVD
This 1951 film seems as relevant today as it ever did. Kirk Douglas is perfectly cast as an unethical newspaper reporter who, through his influence over the town's sheriff, keeps a dying man trapped in a mine for several days longer than necessary in order to milk the story for all it's worth - a strategy he hopes will help him claw his way back to the top of the journalistic world. Billy Wilder's incredibly vitriolic film tells many truths about how reality is manipulated by the media to serve personal and political ends without regard to the suffering caused by this agenda. His film spares nobody in its critique: those who perpetuate the lies, those who directly benefit from them, even those who uncritically consume the stories are all complicit in the wrongdoing. Wilder made many great films, most of which are far better known than this one, but "Ace in the Hole" is up there with the best of them.

Criterion's upcoming release of this great film is definitely cause for celebration.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Package Aug. 13 2008
Format:DVD
I like to think of "Ace in the Hole" as a spiritual predecessor to one of my favourite films, "Network". Both films hammered the media for its sensationalism, callousness, and bottom line. Whereas "Network" took aim at television, "Ace in the Hole" ripped apart the newspaper.

Kirk Douglas stars as as the opportunistic Chuck Tatum. Smeared by his offensive behaviour at the big city dailies, he begs for a job at a low circulation paper so he can find a captivating story and climb back to the top. What he does would be considered despicable back in the 1950's. Don't be fooled by the film's release date or setting. It has both a definite satiric and noirish bent.

The Criterion 2-disc set is worth the money for the film alone but the extras should be of interest to Wilder fans.
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Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  93 reviews
52 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of Billy Wilder's Masterpieces May 3 2007
By R. Sohi - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
This 1951 film seems as relevant today as it ever did. Kirk Douglas is perfectly cast as an unethical newspaper reporter who, through his influence over the town's sheriff, keeps a dying man trapped in a mine for several days longer than necessary in order to milk the story for all it's worth - a strategy he hopes will help him claw his way back to the top of the journalistic world. Billy Wilder's incredibly vitriolic film tells many truths about how reality is manipulated by the media to serve personal and political ends without regard to the suffering caused by this agenda. His film spares nobody in its critique: those who perpetuate the lies, those who directly benefit from them, even those who uncritically consume the stories are all complicit in the wrongdoing. Wilder made many great films, most of which are far better known than this one, but "Ace in the Hole" is up there with the best of them.

Criterion's release of this film is definitely cause for celebration.
38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A neglected masterpiece! Available at last! July 27 2002
By Robert Moore - Published on Amazon.com
ACE IN THE HOLE (the studio renamed THE BIG CARNIVAL when it bombed upon rerelease) is Billy Wilder's forgotten masterpiece. Along with Ernst Lubitsch's ONE HOUR WITH YOU and the films of British comic Will Hay, this has long topped my own personal wish list of films that have never been available either on DVD or VHS in the United States (Hay's films are at least available on DVD in Great Britain). To have it appear at last not only on DVD but in a two-disc Criterion edition is truly a wish come true. This will easily go down as one of the most important DVD releases of 2007.

This is among Billy Wilder's greatest films, though this has been long forgotten because the film bombed so badly at the box office (financially it was by far Wilder's worst film, lossing a great deal of money). Anyone who has seen many Billy Wilder films knows that he had a dark side and that while he would turn out many of the greatest comedies in the history of film, he could also turn out some of the bleakest films ever made. Moreover, even some of his comedies contain many cynical elements. ACE IN THE HOLE is the most despairing film Bill Wilder ever made.

The plot is simple. A former ace reporter is so far down on his luck that he has taken a job on a tiny New Mexico newspaper. When a man gets trapped in a mine collapse, he sees an opportunity to resurrect his career. On the inside, he crawls through the collapsed mine to the spot where the miner is trapped, interviewing him, bringing him food and water, befriending him, and giving him hope and comfort. On the outside, he has an affair with the miner's wife, writes a series of stories about the miner that creates a national media frenzy, and manipulates rescue operations to delay the man's release by a few days so that he will have more time to milk the story. The great tension in the story arrives from his cold-blooded manipulation of the man's situation on the one hand, and the enormous guilt he suffers from the expressions of friendship and appreciation from the man who is trapped. Meanwhile, outside the mine, thousands and thousands of onlookers collect, to the point where it has become a virtual city, complete with souvenir sellers and even carnival rides (hence part of the meaning of the original title).

Kirk Douglas has made very, very man great movies in his great career, but I am not sure he was ever better than in this one. Although the movie has a cast of thousands, there are only three truly crucial characters: Douglas's reporter, the man trapped in the mine, and the miner's wife. But of the three, it is Douglas who has to carry the film on his back. And he does so magnificently.

In every way, a very great movie. My hope is that it will come to be recognized as the great film it is along with other box office failures that have since come to be recognized as classics such as BRINGING UP BABY and THE GENERAL. This is a film that simply must be seen by every fan of the movies.
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Biting and relevant, Ace in the Hole is a masterpiece. Feb. 24 2014
By Anthony L. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Blu-ray
Ace in the Hole is, plain and simple, deep and true, one of the greatest films ever made.

ACE is a film so hard-hitting that it chills some 60 years after it's release; a film so cynical, acidic, and brutal that it has survived the test of time - indeed, becoming more relevant every day it ages. Billy Wilder's story of journalism and the media gone wrong is one that holds special weight in our modern society, and everything from the acting, to the razor-sharp script, to the cinematography and score (To this day, I still remember the tune to "Leo, Leo, Leo, Leeeooo!") comes together to make an unforgettable gut-punch of a masterpiece.

Kirk Douglas's electrifying performance as Chuck Tatum is still among cinema's greatest. In particular, it is his moralless, qualmless opportunism that sticks in the mind: "I can handle big news and little news. And if there's no news, I'll go out and bite a dog." The film centres around Douglas's character, a washed-up, cynical journalist who, when working for a small-town news agency, finds his big break: a man stuck in a cave. Exploiting the situation for his benefit, the incident spirals out of control into a media circus.

This is but the stage for a razor-sharp, darkly comic, exquisitely constructed masterpiece from Billy Wilder. Wilder above all directors had that talent to make his films "stick". 64 years after Sunset Boulevard hit theatres, we are still enthralled by that story of forgotten fame, and 63 years from the release of Ace in the Hole, audiences are still having their insides turn and jaws drop, at the sight of a Ferris wheel being set up outside a cave inside which a man is being slowly suffocated.

If you have not seen Ace in the Hole, I can only encourage you to do so immediately. It is one of my favourite films I have had the pleasure to experience, and in my opinion, one of the greatest films ever made. The script, decades ahead of it's time, is sharper than a knife, and the dialogue is so bruisingly cynical it hits you like a gut-punch. The characters are unforgettable, and the finale cements itself in your head for a long time. This is Billy Wilder's ACE IN THE HOLE, and without question it deserves the highest award I can possibly give: 3, yes, THREE thumbs up.

P.S. If this review was helpful to you, please vote Yes. Thanks!
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wilder's "Ace" is a hole of a good movie! May 12 2003
By micritt - Published on Amazon.com
Billy Wilder made this film after Sunset Blvd(1950) and before Stalag 17(1953), two of his most popular works. He once referred to "Ace" as "the runt of my litter". It is one of the most brilliant films to come out of Hollywood in the early 1950's.
The idea of a newspaper man covering the story of a trapped miner, exploiting and managing the "rescue" in order to sell the story to the media, was way ahead of it's time, which is why the picture flopped at the box office.
The people at Paramount don't seem to value the artistry inherent in this masterpiece. They probably only look at the numbers and figure, "well, it didn't make any money in 1951, so it won't make any now if we release it on DVD"
But they are wrong. This is a cult classic and on every film buff's must-have list.
Besides the acting and direction and the bitterly pungent screenplay, the arid b&w cinematography of Charles Lang and the moody, impressionist, noir music score by Hugo Friedhofer are absolutely perfect for this story.
By all means, write a letter to Paramount Home Video and demand that this film is given a DVD release. You can get their address from their website. I wrote them last year and they said there were no plans to release it. So that means waiting for it to show up on Turner Classic Movies, where I last saw it about 3 years ago.
But if they get enough letters, well, you never know...............
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An film decades ahead of its time Sept. 17 2007
By M. Herzog - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
How this movie got made in its time amazes me. A story about a newsman far more interested in the story than the person. The media circus that follows an event, and how people seem to care more about events than the people involved. But what shocks me is it was made in a time that reporters were heros, and movies showed everyone else as in the wrong. This one specifically attacks the everyman. Applying it to our modern obsession with lawsuits of celebrities, the amy fisher's of the world, and you get a movie decades ahead of itself. I love Billy Wilder, and am thrilled this movie is in my collection.
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