ace in the hole. [another day, another movie: noir #7]

Ace in the Hole stars Kirk Douglas as Chuck Tatum, a newspaper reporter who has been fired in just about every major city in America, so he takes a job in the ABQ to bide his time until a big story comes along that he can ride back into the big time. On his way to cover a rattlesnake hunt he happens upon some sightseeing caves where a man has just been pinned by a cave-in. Tatum just found his big story, but how far is he willing to go to get back to the big papers?

I’d never had much experience with Kirk Douglas as of two weeks ago, but during said two weeks I’ve now seen two of his more critically acclaimed roles, in this and Stanley Kubrick’s Paths of Glory. I now see what all the fuss was about. His charisma just pops off the screen. It was hard not to like his character in Ace in the Hole, even though he’s not what anyone would call “a good guy”, or “a swell fella.” It makes him perfect for this role, because we as the audience are drawn into his scheme, even while we know its wrong.

One of the best parts of doing months like this is that it opens all these other little avenues and tributaries into film history. The example here is that I know there will be more Kirk Douglas in my near future than otherwise would have been the case.

Ace in the Hole also marks the second Billy Wilder film so far (along with Sunset Boulevard). He wrote, directed, and produced this one. Wilder wrote and directed some of the most celebrated films of all time, and Ace in the Hole fits right in with greats like Sunset Boulevard, The Apartment, and Some Like it Hot to name a few. He’ll also be making at least two more appearances this month, with the noir uber-classic Double Indemnity as well as The Lost Weekend. 

When the film came out it was a critical and box office failure, but since, folks have come to appreciate how strong the film is. It’s on some pretty impressive lists, including the Criterion Collection, Roger Ebert’s ‘The Great Movies’, 1,001 Movies to See Before You Die, Empire Magazine’s Top 500, and more.

Another great film, keeping the month a perfect 7 for 7 so far. Also, the last shot in this film is one of my favorites ever.