Written by Michael Clawson
As charismatic as he is cynical and unscrupulous, down on his luck newspaperman Charles Tatum (Kirk Douglas, fantastic) stumbles on exactly the kind of “human interest” story he can exploit to get himself out of the boonies of New Mexico and back into the big leagues of East Coast journalism. A man has gotten himself trapped deep inside an old Native American cliff dwelling just off the highway, and while getting him out could have been a matter of hours, Tatum – abetted by a couple of other morally bankrupt individuals who see an opportunity to cash in – connives to stretch the incident into nearly a week, allowing himself the time to generate national publicity and attract the media spotlight. Leo Minosa, meanwhile, alone and buried up to his waist in the claustrophobic darkness of the cave, can do nothing but wait as his health and hope of being rescued wane – a disturbing thing to witness. A riveting, gut-punching critique of media sensationalism and greed, the movie might not have any fedoras or foggy city streets, but it’s undoubtedly in the realm of film noir with its pessimistic, hard-bitten outlook and savagely amoral primary characters. I love that in the end, Wilder declines to give us any reason to have faith in these people, instead only further twisting the knife.
Ace in the Hole Trailer
Ace in the Hole is currently streaming on Crackle, Kanopy, and Prime Video.