CinemaCl🎃wn’s review published on Letterboxd:
A ruthless exposition of media sensationalism, an unforgiving examination of the dark side of press & a careful observation of human nature, Billy Wilder's Ace in the Hole covers a wide array of relationships between press, the news it reports, the manner in which the news are reported, the extent to which some journalists choose to exploit someone's misfortunes & the morbid curiosity of us human beings who are always attracted to the scenes of tragedy.
The story concerns a fiercely ambitious & self-centered reporter who settles for a reporting job at a small New Mexico newspaper after being fired from every other agency. But when he learns about a man stuck in a cave, he quickly uses this opportunity to re-jumpstart his career by exploiting the trapped man's situation, bribing the officials to prolong the rescue operation & eventually creating a national media sensation that soon goes out-of-control, leading to terrible consequences.
Brilliantly directed from start to finish, it's quite shocking to discover that this quality feature film was a critical & commercial failure when it released but its reception has improved with time as the disgusting portrait of press media it paints has only become more relevant over the years. Deftly written, crisply photographed in black n white & seamlessly put together by its taut editing, it also benefits a lot from Kirk Douglas' biting performance as the disgraced reporter who stops at nothing to regain his tarnished reputation.
On an overall scale, Ace in the Hole is one highly underrated gem in Billy Wilder's impressive filmography that truly deserves a much broader audience. It may not have the seamless blend of humour with tragic events unlike most films by Wilder, is pretty straight-forward with its subject matter and is quite direct in its attack on the cruel side of free press & government corruption but it also hits all the right buttons over the course of its runtime and offers an observation that's absolutely worth your time & money. Don't miss it.