Among Billy Wilder's work, this and Stalag 17 stood out as one's that I needed to see that have been long unavailable in the UK. Stalag 17 will have to wait - looking at you here, Masters of Cinema - but Ace in the Hole was a marvel. This 1951 is the most perfectly volatile satire of journalism I've ever seen - to be this frighteningly relevant 63 years later is incredible.
Upon finding a man trapped under a burial mound on the way to a rattlesnake hunt, Chuck Tatum (Douglas) manipulates the situation, prolonging it however he can to further his career. As the one sparky line of dialogue states, “I can handle big news and little news. And if there's no news, I'll go out and bite a dog”. The man has no shame and Kirk Douglas gives the most urgent and passionate performance of his career as this man with no morality, the perfect capsule of everything wrong with modern journalism. Best of all, Tatum doesn't go through an awakening, realising the folly of his ways. No, the only awakening he goes through is the one when he realises he's fudged his career - Wilder is 100% committed to this cause. The sharp intelligence of Ace in the Hole is another Masterpiece from one of the best American directors of all.