Kathy Fiscus

Criterion Files

Welcome to the fourth and penultimate installment of Guest Author month at Criterion Files: a month devoted to important classic and contemporary bloggers. This week, Matthew Dessem, who keeps himself quite busy writing his way through every single title in the Criterion Collection at The Criterion Contraption, takes on Billy Wilder’s oft-overlooked masterpiece Ace in the Hole (1951). Tune in next week for an analysis of a different title from a new author, and you can take a look at the previous entries from guest contributors here. We all know the story: deep underground, there’s been a terrible accident. Lives hang in the balance! Time is of the essence! But if everybody pulls together, if we all really believe, there’s a chance we can bring the lost back, blinking, into the sunlight. The important thing—whether we’re talking about Floyd Collins, Kathy Fiscus, or Jessica McClure—is to pay attention. We all know the story—and apparently we love it. The Wikipedia article about last year’s Copiapó Mining Disaster is 10,500 words long. William Shakespeare only rates 6,800. What on earth is going on? In his breathtakingly cynical masterpiece, Ace in the Hole, Billy Wilder suggests some answers—but you’re not going to like them.

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