Ace in the Hole

( 7 )

Overview

For years, Ace In The Hole was the phantom item in Billy Wilder's filmography; it was made when the director was at the height of his talents and was a favorite with critics, but after it landed with a thud at the box office in 1951 (when audiences were doubtless not ready for a movie quite this cynical), Paramount Pictures seemed to wash their hands of it, and it was rarely shown on television and never released on home video. Thankfully, the Criterion Collection have finally made Ace In The Hole available on ...
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Overview

For years, Ace In The Hole was the phantom item in Billy Wilder's filmography; it was made when the director was at the height of his talents and was a favorite with critics, but after it landed with a thud at the box office in 1951 (when audiences were doubtless not ready for a movie quite this cynical), Paramount Pictures seemed to wash their hands of it, and it was rarely shown on television and never released on home video. Thankfully, the Criterion Collection have finally made Ace In The Hole available on DVD, and they've taken care to give this long-overdue release the quality presentation it deserves. Disc one of Criterion's Ace In The Hole set features the movie in a superb, pin-sharp digital transfer that captures all the nooks and crannies of Charles B. Lang Jr.'s black and white cinematography, and it's far superior to the versions that have occasionally appeared on cable TV over the years. The picture has been transferred in its original full-frame aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and the audio has been mastered in Dolby Digital Mono, capturing the sound track with admirable clarity and detail. The dialogue is in English, with optional English subtitles but no multiple language options. An optional audio commentary accompanies the film, with Neil Sinyard discussing the making of the film and Wilder's style and technique. Disc Two is devoted to supplementary material, including a fine documentary on Billy Wilder, Portrait of a 60% Perfect Man, and highlights from a 1986 appearance by Wilder at the American Film Institute. Also featured is an appreciation of Ace In The Hole from filmmaker Spike Lee (who shows off his autographed lobby card from the movie), a interview with Kirk Douglas shot in 1984 in which he discusses working with Wilder, an audio-only interview with Walter Newman (who co-wrote the screenplay), and a gallery of stills from the picture (including some behind-the-scenes production shots). And the accompanying booklet, mocked-up to look like an edition of the Albuquerque Sun-Bulletin, includes fine original essays on Ace In The Hole from critic Molly Haskell and filmmaker Guy Maddin. One could hardly ask for a better or more thorough video release of Ace In The Hole, and if Criterion's definitive edition was a long time in coming, the results amply reward the patience of film buffs everywhere.
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Special Features

New, restored high-definition digital transfer; Audio commentary by film scholar Neil Sinyard; Theatrical trailer; Portrait of a "60% Perfect Man": Bill Wilder, a 1980 documentary featuring in-depth interviews with Wilder by film critic Michel Ciment; A 1984 interview with Kirk Douglas; Excerpts from a 1986 appearance by Wilder at the American Film Institute; Excerpts from an audio interview with coscreenwriter Walter Newman; New video afterword by filmmaker Spike Lee; Stills gallery; New essays by film critic Molly Haskell and filmmaker Guy Maddin
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
A movie truly ahead of its time, Ace in the Hole (also known as The Big Carnival) turned out to be too bitter and cynical for moviegoers in 1951. An unrelenting portrait of media sensationalism and the human obsession with tragedy that propels it, the film is based on a true story that also spawned Robert Penn Warren's novel The Cave. Director, screenwriter, and producer Billy Wilder suffered perhaps the biggest commercial and critical failure of his career with Ace, losing much of his standing at Paramount, even though the movie was released between two of his most enduring and popular triumphs, Sunset Boulevard (1950) and Stalag 17 (1953). Ace was perhaps not up to the standard of those works, but it clearly stands as one of Wilder's many fine achievements. It's hardly surprising that this film failed to find a mainstream audience, despite the added attraction of emerging star Kirk Douglas in the lead. American culture wouldn't be ready for such a large dose of pessimism until the 1970s; even then, a film such as 1976's Network, which clearly paralleled the tone of Wilder's effort, was dismissed by many viewers as too hysterical.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 7/17/2007
  • UPC: 715515024723
  • Original Release: 1951
  • Source: Criterion
  • Region Code: 1
  • Presentation: B&W / Pan & Scan
  • Time: 1:51:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 79,847

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Kirk Douglas Charles Tatum
Jan Sterling Lorraine
Robert Arthur Herbie Cook
Porter Hall Jacob Q. Boot
Frank Cady Mr. Federber
Richard Benedict Leo Minosa
Ray Teal Sheriff
Lewis Martin McCardle
John Berkes Papa Minosa
Frances Dominguez Mama Minosa
Gene Evans Deputy Sheriff
Frank Jaquet Smollett
Geraldine Hall Mrs. Federber
Richard Gaines Nagel
Bob Bumps Radio Announcer
Billy Sheehan
Bob Kortman Digger
Edith Evanson Miss Deverich
Ralph Moody Kusac; Miner
Claire Du Brey Spinster
William Fawcett Sad-Faced Man
Bert Moorhouse Morgan
Ken Christy Jessop
Lester Dorr Priest
Larry Hogan Television Announcer
Bert Stevens Reporter
Iron Eyes Cody Indian Copy Boy
Jack Roberts Newspaperman
Harry Harvey Dr. Hilton
Technical Credits
Billy Wilder Director, Producer, Screenwriter
Sam Comer Set Decoration/Design
Ray Evans Songwriter
Hugo W. Friedhofer Score Composer
Gene Garvin Sound/Sound Designer
Doane Harrison Editor
Edith Head Costumes/Costume Designer
Earl Hedrick Art Director
Charles B. Lang Cinematographer
Harold Lewis Sound/Sound Designer
Jay Livingston Songwriter
Ray Moyer Set Decoration/Design
Walter Newman Screenwriter
Hal Pereira Art Director
Lesser Samuels Screenwriter
Arthur P. Schmidt Editor
Wally Westmore Makeup
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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Ace in the Hole, Disc 1: The Film
1. Arrival in Albuquerque [4:07]
2. "Where's My Desk?" [3:29]
3. A Life Sentence [4:30]
4. "Good News Is No News" [4:08]
5. Human Interest [7:07]
6. Leo [7:11]
7. "Forget the Rattlesnakes" [4:36]
8. Lorraine Wants Out [4:14]
9. Mr. and Mrs. America [3:45]
10. "Everybody Likes a Break" [3:29]
11. An Ace in the Hole [5:57]
12. Twenty Minutes [2:17]
13. A New Community [5:01]
14. The Gentlemen of the Press [3:23]
15. From the Top [2:28]
16. Leo Suffers as the Carnival Arrives [4:28]
17. Accusations From Boot [4:26]
18. Rounding Third [2:23]
19. A Song for Leo [3:14]
20. A Turn for the Worse [5:18]
21. Out of Options [3:36]
22. The Present [5:22]
23. Last Rites [5:08]
24. The Circus Is Over [4:12]
25. A Tatum Special [4:43]
26. "For Nothing" [2:22]
1. A Memorable Entrance [4:07]
2. Kirk Douglas [3:29]
3. A Driving Force [4:30]
4. Purpose and Pacing [4:08]
5. Lorraine/The Writers [7:07]
6. A Wilder Production [7:11]
7. Locations/Priorities [4:36]
8. Wilder's Women/Jan Sterling [4:14]
9. Arrivals and Accomplices [3:45]
10. Friedhofer/Visual Style [3:29]
11. Fallible Heroes [5:57]
12. Film Noir [2:17]
13. Spectacle [5:01]
14. Media Circus/Daring [3:23]
15. Close-ups [2:28]
16. The Use of Friend [4:28]
17. Their Own Antagonists [4:26]
18. Screaming Headlines/Tatum Prevails [2:23]
19. Pulling Out All the Stops [3:14]
20. Aspirations and Aggression [5:18]
21. Delivering a Happy Ending [3:36]
22. A Darker Vision [5:22]
23. Tatum as Artist [5:08]
24. Dynamic Antiheroes [4:12]
25. A Shot of Vinegar [4:43]
26. An Offer He Can't Refuse [2:22]
Disc #2 -- Ace in the Hole, Disc 1: The Supplements
1. Austria and Early Years [11:41]
2. Berlin [3:33]
3. America and Collaborations [3:11]
4. Hold Back the Dawn/Directing [4:59]
5. Ace in the Hole/An Accumulator [5:05]
6. Some Like It Hot/The Seven Year Itch [6:14]
7. Script Ideas and Writing Process [5:31]
8. Bogart/Monroe/Dietrich [7:19]
9. Return to Berlin/Ahead of Its Time [7:03]
10. Just Trying to Make a Living [3:44]
1. Early Days in the U.S./Reputation [7:49]
2. A Born Collaborator/Three Acts [2:58]
3. No Fancy-Schmancy Shots [2:28]
4. The Studios [6:51]
5. A Painful Profession [3:28]
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Menu

Disc #1 -- Ace in the Hole, Disc 1: The Film
   Play the Movie
   Chapters
   Color Bars
   Commentary
      Commentary: Off
      Commentary: On
      Index
      Color Bars
   Trailer
Disc #2 -- Ace in the Hole, Disc 2: The Supplements
   Portrait of a "60% Perfect Man": Bill Wilder
      Play
      Index
   Billy Wilder at the American Film Institute
      Play
      Index
   Kirk Douglas Interview
      Play
   Walter Newman Interview
      Play
   Spike Lee Afterword
   Stills Gallery
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 7 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 25, 2014

    Great Film and now Fully Restored with Criterion Treatment

    This was a film which was controversial in its day but now seems more relevant given how the news media world has evolved. It was ably directed by the great Billy Wilder as a follow up to his Sunset Boulevard masterpiece. Kirk Douglas delivers a tour de force performance in this film in what can be described as a very nourish and edgy role even by today's standards. He plays a no holds barred down on his luck journalist in Albuquerque looking for his big break to get back to the Big City. He finds his opportunity when he stumbles upon a victim trapped in a tunnel cave in. The movie plot has to do with how he works the story. This 60 year old B&W film has received the full Criterion treatment and the film transfer both audio and video is superb. The extras include past interviews with Billy Wilder and Kirk Douglas about this film and how it was made. I believe anyone who is a film noir fan or news media junkie will find this blu ray worth owning. Highly recommended.

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  • Posted May 14, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Shocking when it came out, but now it's Suspicions Confirmed and

    Shocking when it came out, but now it's Suspicions Confirmed and Business As Usual.

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  • Posted October 27, 2013

    Perhaps Douglas's finest role. Although the film did not get the

    Perhaps Douglas's finest role. Although the film did not get the best of reviews when it was released, it has become and will remain a classic. A bit to cynical for some, in my opinion that and Wilder's direction is what makes it a film you just can't turn away from. There are people in this world as Douglas depics, it's just a fact of life so just sit back and enjoy the film.

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    Posted July 13, 2010

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    Posted July 11, 2011

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    Posted October 8, 2008

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 23, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews