Movies – Ace In The Hole Review (or “Statements About Society Don’t Always Make For Pure Entertainment”)

I finally got my Sky box hooked up to the internet, so I now have access to Sky’s On-Demand service.

It’s certainly impressive; I can’t imagine I’ll ever be in a situation where I have nothing to watch at night again.

Oh sure, I could have said that about NetFlix and my subscription to that, but if there’s one thing NetFlix lacks, it’s depth and variety of good movies.AceInTheHole

Sky on the other hand have one hell of a choice.

Now as you might have gleaned from reading my reviews, I like old movies. In my opinion, a good story is a good story no matter when it was made, and it just so happens that many of the best stories were immortalised on celluloid a long time ago.

And Sky On Demand has a vast array of “new” old movies for me to watch.

Tonight, I decided to try out the 1951 Billy Wilder movie, Ace In The Hole.

Movies – Ace In The Hole Review: What’s It About?

A disgraced ex-New York journalist, now working for a small-town Albuquerque newspaper, stumbles across a man trapped under falling rocks in a New Mexico cave/Ancient Indian Burial Ground. In a bid to milk the story for all its worth and get himself back to the big time, he engineers a scenario to keep the man trapped for as long as possible, but the situation quickly escalates into an out-of-control circus with the eyes of the nation looking on.

Or in other words, it’s the film that The Simpsons spoofed in the episode where Bart gets “stuck” down a well.

Movies – Ace In The Hole Review: Who’s In It?

Kirk Douglas stars. The rest of the cast – like Jan Sterling, Robert Arthur & Porter Hall – are unknown to me.

Movies – Ace In The Hole Review: How Highly Is It Rated?

IMDB rates it at 8.2/10 from around 15,000 votes. Presumably the lack of votes precludes it from being ranked in the IMDB Top 250, as its rating would place it as one of the top 156 films of all time.

Rotten Tomatoes meanwhile gives it 86%.

It was nominated for a number of awards at the time.

Movies – Ace In The Hole Review: Thoughts

I’m a bit torn on this one.

On the one hand, it’s a decent story and one that is played out on an impressive setting and scale. You can tell a fair bit of money was spent on the replica cave dwelling.

But on the other, I felt Billy Wilder was less interested in making as strong a plot as possible and instead was focussing on making a statement about both the unscrupulous nature of journalism, and the ridiculous way Americans lap up human interest stories.

And though that statement was valid then and still is today – especially in the age of the 24 hour news cycle – it wasn’t exactly gripping. Don’t get me wrong; it’s extremely impressive for a 53-year-old movie to still carry an important message about how our society treats news, but as impressive as that is, it doesn’t necessarily make it entertaining. No, this was not a movie on a par with some of Wilder’s other classics, such as Double Indemnity, Sunset Boulevard and The Apartment.

What didn’t help it was that outside of the story of the man stuck in the cave, we were left with a rather bland nearly-romance subplot between Kirk Douglas’s character and the trapped man’s emotional vacuum of a wife. He was good, but she was awful.

And the result of him getting stabbed and showing no real ill effects until it suited the story was a bit crap.

So I wasn’t too impressed on the whole, and probably wouldn’t go out of my way to see it again.

Movies – Should You Watch Ace In The Hole?

By no means a bad film, this – in my opinion – this is one classic movie that doesn’t live up to the hype.

Definitely not as good as some of Wilder’s other efforts.






Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: