Monday, January 13, 2014

Review: Ace in the Hole

A newspaper reporter who has been fired from several big-city publications tries to re-start his career at a small paper in New Mexico, where he finds a once-in-a-lifetime scoop that he’s going to milk for all its worth.

Billy Wilder produced, directed and wrote this film. It’s his first project to be considered a crucial and commercial failure, and it’s not a stretch to understand why. The deep cynicism from Wilder’s other projects (like Sunset Boulevard and The Lost Weekend) is present, but in this film the characters are a little too caricatured, the central message underlined a little too often with the broad strokes and borderline-cartoonish delivery of a bad muckraking speech. Kirk Douglas swaggers and bloviates his way through the lead role, and doesn’t have much to do except that.

Still, while Ace in the Hole isn’t a great film, it is a good one, and worth the time to see. While not perfect, it addresses an important issue (the excesses of mass media) in a way that most modern commercial films would not attempt.

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