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.
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