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aka - Big Carnival, The
USA 1951
Directed by
Billy Wilder
112 minutes
Rated G

Reviewed by
Beranrd Hemingway
4 stars

Ace In The Hole

Written by Wilder with Lesser Samuels and based on a true story, Billy Wilder's film was so caustically critical of the world of newspaper journalism, the realm of so many cosily upbeat films in the 30s and 40s that its studio, Paramount, changed its original title from Ace In The Hole to The Big Carnival in the hope that name change would put a lighter spin on the subject matter. All to no avail for this almost un-American filmed bombed at the box office.

Kirk Douglas plays a one-time big-city reporter with a drinking problem who has been reduced to working for a backwater New Mexico newspaper. When the owner of an Indian tourist souvenir shop (Richard Benedict) gets trapped in a cave-in while scavenging for Indian relics Tatum cooks up a deal with crooked sheriff (Ray Teal) and his wife (Jan Sterling) to milk the story for their mutual benefit. A literal application of the concept of the media circus, Ace In The Hole, along with The Sweet Smell Of Success (1957) is a classic indictment of media cynicism and features one of Kirk Douglas's most memorable performances.




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