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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Billy Wilder makes us squirm, and Ace in the Hole makes it worthwhile: It's an excellent film
"Don't worry, Leo. I'm your pal." That's Chuck Tatum speaking. He's a hot-shot big city reporter who has been fired from every top paper he's ever worked for. Now he's hit bottom. He works for the Albuquerque Sun=Bulletin, a small town daily which puts yard sales on its front page. Tatum needs the job, but he's determined to find that one big ticket story that'll put him...
Published on 3 Nov 2007 by C. O. DeRiemer

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6 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars 5 stars for the film, one for this DVD
This version I bought is aimed at the Asian market so I was not surprised that it contained a dubbed Chinese option as well as the original English. However, what I was not expecting was the inability to play this disc without subtitles. One has to chose English, simplified Chinese and Mandarin with no Subtitles Off option, I viewed it with simplified Chinese as being the...
Published 11 months ago by Celia


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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Billy Wilder makes us squirm, and Ace in the Hole makes it worthwhile: It's an excellent film, 3 Nov 2007
By 
C. O. DeRiemer (San Antonio, Texas, USA) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Criterion Collection: Ace in the Hole [DVD] [1951] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
"Don't worry, Leo. I'm your pal." That's Chuck Tatum speaking. He's a hot-shot big city reporter who has been fired from every top paper he's ever worked for. Now he's hit bottom. He works for the Albuquerque Sun=Bulletin, a small town daily which puts yard sales on its front page. Tatum needs the job, but he's determined to find that one big ticket story that'll put him back in New York. The man he's talking to is going to be that big ticket. His name is Leo Mimosa, owner of the desolate, dusty Mimosa's Indian Curios ("Gas and Oil, Drinks on Ice") in Escudero, in New Mexico's high desert. Leo is currently 300 feet underground, trapped in a cave-in while looking for ancient Indian pots he can sell for a few hundred dollars. In the next 111 minutes, covering five or so days, we're going to experience so much corruption of the soul, misplaced trust and consuming ambition...leavened by so little humanity...that we'll want to take a bath afterwards. This is one of director Billy Wilder's greatest pictures. For me, it's permeated not by Wilder's famously sardonic outlook toward humanity but by the inevitability of commonplace tragedy. That there are only one or two people we might think well of isn't so much a limitation as an element that sharpens the fascination with great story-telling combined with vivid acting.

While Tatum controls his big story, and while Leo becomes increasingly desperate, to the point of believing Tatum is his only friend, we encounter a cast of characters who are either stupid and venal or sly and venal. Top of the list is Tatum, himself. Kirk Douglas gives an utterly believable portrait of a man, excellent at his job, who can taste the big-time again and is determined to do whatever it takes to achieve it. "I'm on my way back to the top," he says, "and if it takes a deal with a crooked sheriff, that's alright with me! And if I have to fancy it up with an Indian curse and a broken hearted wife for Leo, then that's alright too!" Close behind is Jan Sterling as Leo Mimosa's wife. Lorraine Mimosa wants out...out of Escudero, out of New Mexico and out of her marriage with Leo. She's a pouty bleached blonde, callous and discontented. Gus Kretzer, the local sheriff, is corrupt and more than willing to work with Tatum to insure he gets the kind of news coverage he needs for his re-election. And there are all those visitors to the cave where Leo is trapped...gawkers, thrill seekers, whole families out to set up camp and see what happens. Food booths and a carnival keep them contented while a drill pounds away at the rock to reach Leo. It's the slow way which Tatum has maneuvered to insure his exclusive coverage of Leo's predicament can play out over the next few days. Leo literally is Tatum's ace in the hole. The conclusion is as depressing as Wilder's depiction of human character. The movie's whole set-up, in fact, is designed to make us feel uncomfortable at what we're seeing. If we've ever slowed down to get a better view of a traffic accident, if we've ever watched with fascinated revulsion as a snake swallows down a live mouse or a mantis gnaws at a struggling lizard, we have to recognize that in spirit we're also part of the crowd eager to see what happens.

What makes the movie stand apart from so much of Wilder's skilled cynicism in some of his other films, I think, are two elements. First, Wilder plays this story straight. There's no sardonic comedy or witty, misogynistic lines. He serves us up a serious, well-acted drama and then compels us to take it seriously while he makes us squirm a little. Second, he includes two characters that give us some relief from Tatum's ambition and our own unease. First is Herbie Cook, played by Robert Arthur, the young photographer from the newspaper. Herbie is a graduate of a journalism school, a little naive and so innocent-looking you want to protect him from Tatum's manipulations. Second, and most important, is Jacob Boot, played by that fine character actor, Porter Hall. Boot is in some ways our conscience, the serious, realistic publisher and owner of the Sun=Bulletin who has the quaint idea that telling the truth is important. Boot is able, although not by much, to show us that people come in all flavors, and that venality is only one of them, no more or less than trying to do the right thing also is. In Ace in the Hole, however, nothing good happens in time. As Tatum said earlier, "It's a good story today. Tomorrow, they'll wrap a fish in it." Same with people.

Some call Ace in the Hole a noir. I'm not one of them. For me, it's a powerful drama, and it transcends genre classification. We might as well call Macbeth a noir simply because Macbeth has a tragic hero, a femme fatale, death and the inevitability of fate. The two-disc Criterion release features an excellent black-and-white picture transfer and several extras which include interviews with Kirk Douglas, Billy Wilder and screenwriter Walter Newman. There is an audio commentary by Neil Sinyard, identified as a film scholar. Amusingly, the booklet insert which has essays by Molly Haskell and Guy Madden is in the form of an edition of the Albuquerque Sun=Bulletin.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent presentation of a great film, 9 Aug 2007
By 
Nobody (London, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Criterion Collection: Ace in the Hole [DVD] [1951] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
Ace In The Hole was written, produced & directed by American cinema legend Billy Wilder in 1951 following his success with `Sunset Boulevard'. Wilder only began directing in order to protect his scripts and this film is testament to that. Ace In The Hole is as bitingly cynical and pessimistic a film you'll get. I rate it alongside `Sweet Smell Of Success' (1957, Mackendrick) and `Network' (1976, Lumet) for its bleak vision of the media and our complicity in it. Kirk Douglas stars in what has to be regarded as one of his greatest performances as irredeemable reporter Charles Tatum who'll stop at nothing for a story. No punches are pulled here; this is hard-boiled with some excellent memorable dialogue. Cinematography was by Charles B. Lang (A Foreign Affair; Some Like It Hot; The Big Heat).

Criterion have excelled again with this wonderful presentation boasting a superb transfer with excellent contrast as well as many extras including an informative commentary. Other extras are included on a bonus disc.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An ace in Billy Wilder's output., 17 July 2007
By 
This is another classic Billy Wilder movie which,like Kiss Me Stupid, was sorely underestimated when first released. Whereas the public of the time was not ready for a comedy like 'Kiss' with its controversial moral values, this drama punched too hard at the American way and cynical journalism. This is one of the four best films Kirk Douglas made (the other three are Paths of Glory, Lonely Are The Brave and Spartacus). I have been waiting a long time for this one and the only work of Wilder's I would give it up for is the Peter Sellars footage of Kiss Me Stupid (dream on). Billy Wilder's films range from (with the exception of Buddy Buddy)very good to great and this is undoubtedy in the latter category. Anyone interested in well made intelligent films (the kind where you get really annoyed at the moronic voice overs at the end credit roll when they are shown on TV) should give this one top priority.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shame on you, the Human Race, 13 Sep 2014
By 
Val G "Val G" (Warwickshire, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Ace in the Hole (DVD)
A little known film classic. Only just available on DVD from Lovefilm and long awaited. Although somewhat stereotypical of 50s America, it encapsulates the rubber necking mentality within so many of us and the brutal, fly-by-night necromancy of the press. T

The first family to 'turn up' at the scene of Leo's misfortune are also one of the last to depart and the women in this family cries as they pack up to leave after Leo's death. Why? Is it a) because she feels for Leo and his family, b) because she feels the shame of her own cruelly voyeuristic ways or c) because she has now to return to her own mundane, workaday life and, both literally and symbolically, leave the carnival behind? I suspect it's a mixture of all three, and sums up the mood of the film.

If exploding cars don't do it for you (and let's face it, there's more to Cinema than the ubiquitous exploding car) and you like your movies to be a little more thought-provoking, watch Ace in the Hole.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Ace in the Hole (1951) ... Kirk Douglas ... Criterion Collection (2007)", 22 Dec 2010
By 
J. Lovins "Mr. Jim" (Missouri-USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Criterion Collection: Ace in the Hole [DVD] [1951] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (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. Federber
Richard Benedict - Leo Minosa
Ray Teal - Sheriff Gus Kretzer
Lewis Martin - McCardle
John Berkes - Papa Minosa
Frances Dominguez - Mama Minosa
Gene Evans - Deputy Sheriff

SPECIAL FEATURES [BONUS]:
1. New, restored high-definition digital transfer
2. Audio commentary by film scholar Neil Sinyard
3. Portrait of a "60% Perfect Man": Billy Wilder, a 1980 documentary featuring in-depth interviews with Wilder by film critic Michel Ciment
4. A 1984 interview with Kirk Douglas by filmmaker and film scholar Michael Thomas
5. Excerpts from a 1986 appearance by Wilder at the American Film Institute
6. Excerpts from an audio interview with coscreenwriter Walter Newman
7. New video afterword by filmmaker Spike Lee
8. Stills gallery
9. Theatrical trailer
10.PLUS: A booklet featuring new essays by film critic Molly Haskell and filmmaker Guy Maddin

Mr. Jim's Ratings:
Quality of Picture & Sound: 5 Stars
Performance: 5 Stars
Story & Screenplay: 5 Stars
Overall: 5 Stars [Original Music, Cinematography & Film Editing]

Total Time: 111 min on DVD ~ Criterion ~ (07/17/2007)
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars To be this frighteningly relevant 63 years later is incredible, 2 May 2014
By 
Rob Simpson "noframeof" (Middlesbrough, England) - See all my reviews
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.
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An ace in Billy Wilder's output, 28 July 2007
By 
This review is from: Criterion Collection: Ace in the Hole [DVD] [1951] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
This is another classic Billy Wilder movie which, like Kiss Me Stupid, was sorely underestimated on its initial release. Whereas the public of the time was not ready for a comedy like 'Kiss' with its controversial moral values, this drama punched too hard at the American way and cynical journalism -- it is also one of the four best films that Kirk Douglas made (the other three being Paths of Glory, Lonely Are the Brave and Spartacus). I have been waiting a long time for this and the only work of Wilder's I would give it up for is the Peter Seller's footage of Kiss Me Stupid (which probably does not exist, anyway). With the exception of his last film 'Buddy Buddy', Wilder's films range from good to great and this is certainly in the latter category. Anyone interested in well made intelligent films (the kind where you get really annoyed at the moronic voice over at the end credit roll when they are shown on TV) should give this one top priority.
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6 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars 5 stars for the film, one for this DVD, 3 Dec 2013
By 
Celia (London, UK) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This version I bought is aimed at the Asian market so I was not surprised that it contained a dubbed Chinese option as well as the original English. However, what I was not expecting was the inability to play this disc without subtitles. One has to chose English, simplified Chinese and Mandarin with no Subtitles Off option, I viewed it with simplified Chinese as being the least intrusive but I would not have bought this version if this state of affairs had been flagged up.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ace in the hole, 8 July 2011
This review is from: Criterion Collection: Ace in the Hole [DVD] [1951] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
cd arrived well packed and when it was supposed to film was of a top quality regards picture no problems regards ths item.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Ageless Classic, 24 Dec 2010
By 
B. Ying (Hong Kong, SAR) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Criterion Collection: Ace in the Hole [DVD] [1951] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
This film was made by Billy Wilder between his film noir period of "Double Indemnity"/"Sunset Boulevard"
and his comedy period of "Some Like It Hot"/"The Apartment".

When the film was first released in Hong Kong in the early 50's, it was called "The Big Carnival".
The name was changed by the studio from "Ace in the Hole" in an attempt to attract a larger audience.
That was an amusing and ironic development from the launching of this film.

I viewed the film for the first time recently in the dvd format.

I found it was one of the best film by Billy Wilder and Kirk Douglas,
a hard hitting black & white film about hunger for success, greed, shallowness, guilt
and redemption of human nature
and shady side of media and journalism which continues to evolve till this very day.

This is expert film making in every sense of the word, writing, direction, cinematography,
production design and acting.

This is an all time classic.
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