A jet black and deservedly cynical noir that is a real ace in Wilder’s whole filmography. The perceptive portrayal of parasitic and sensationalist media rings depressingly true to this day, probably even more so.
This is all supported by a solid premise with lots of symbolic potential. For example, the setting is very specific, opening up ideas about wider exploitation done by Americans. We also have impressive scale, including a Felliniesque circus from before even Fellini was delivering Felliniesque spectacle.
At the centre of this compelling drama, that literally focuses on a man repeatedly probing into the dark heart of a cave, is the perfect performance. Douglas is detestable, sneeringly evil yet deeply believable. It is a truly sinister turn and utterly compelling. Wilder really understands the off putting, abrasive and creepy energy that Douglas evokes and capitalises on it wonderfully.