Kirk Douglas

Ace in the Hole Movie Newspaper

Some movies, no matter how old they are, never age a day. Their situations and themes remain as relevant now as when they were first released. Watching them today, they reflect and comment on our present in ways they couldn’t possibly have anticipated. Every month we’re going to pick a movie from the past that does just that, and explore what it has to say about the here and now. Today, Billy Wilder’s entertainingly cynical 1951 film, Ace in the Hole, gets a gorgeous Blu-Ray treatment from Criterion, and it’s a perfect movie to start this column with. In it, a down-on-his-luck reporter, Chuck Tatum (Kirk Douglas) stumbles upon a story about a man, Leo (Richard Benedict), trapped in a mountain tunnel. Tatum decides to sensationalize, exploit, and manipulate Leo’s misfortune into a media frenzy to help resurrect his career. While the kind of print journalism we see in Wilder’s film may be dying, its representation of media and its consumers translates perfectly to our age of pay walls, YouTube and digital subscriptions. Here are five ways Ace in the Hole evokes not only its own time, but ours.


These 20, alongside hundreds of others, redefine what it means to be a movie veteran.


Vintage Trailer Logo

Stanley Kubrick’s foray into the sand and sandals epic of Spartacus alongside blacklisted writer Dalton Trumbo and iconic actor Kirk Douglas taught everyone a lot of lessons. It taught Kubrick to always get full control over the script. It taught Kirk Douglas that you could get actors on board by showing them different scripts where more emphasis was placed on their character. It taught an audience what it means to stand up in the heat of the sun, starving to death, to proclaim that you were Spartacus.


Ace in the Hole

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.



Science Fiction is, sadly, not always seen as high art. However, there are some brilliant acting talents who have dared to slum it in the world of science fiction. Here’s the 15 most notable ones.



We’re spending all week celebrating war movies. Today, we look at an early work from a master film maker, one of Stanley Kubrick’s lesser known films that shows World War I from view from the trenches as well as the courtroom.



Our Culture Warrior Landon Palmer digs into next month’s Cannes line up so you won’t have to. Learn what to look out for when they hit the states and feign sounding cultured at parties!


Out of the Past Poster

Film fans will see a striking resemblance between this classic and the storyline for A History of Violence. Just when you thought you were out – they pull you back in. Isn’t that how it always works out?

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published: 01.25.2015
published: 01.24.2015
published: 01.24.2015
published: 01.24.2015

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