Kirk Douglas and Jan Sterling in Ace in the Hole

Ace in the Hole

Billy Wilder | USA | 1951

Director: Billy Wilder
Producer: Billy Wilder
Screenplay: Billy Wilder,
  Lesser Samuels, Walter Newman
Cinematography: Charles Lang
Editor: Arthur P. Schmidt
Music: Hugo Friedhofer
Kirk Douglas (Chuck Tatum)
Jan Sterling (Lorraine Minosa)
Robert Arthur (Herbie Cook)
Porter Hall (Jacob Q. Boot)
Frank Cady (Al Federber)
Richard Benedict (Leo Minosa)
Ray Teal (Sheriff Gus Kretzer)

Rating: PG low level violence Runtime: 111 minutes

The conversation around the greatest directors of Golden Age Hollywood would not be complete without mentioning the name Billy Wilder. His films, like Sunset Boulevard (screened at WFS in 2019), Some Like it Hot, Double Indemnity, and The Apartment to name a few, show that he was as talented working in comedies as he was working in noir and drama.

Ace in the Hole is a cynical noir satire of the media and the corrupting nature of power. It stars Kirk Douglas as down-on-his-luck journalist, Chuck Tatum, who takes a job at a small-town newspaper in New Mexico. Tatum is always looking for the big story that will get him back to working as a big city newsman. One day, he stumbles upon a story of a man trapped in a cave during a mining accident. Tatum sees this as his chance to make a name for himself, and he begins to exploit the situation to create a media circus.

Although the media industry has changed since 1951, the themes of sensationalism and power will always remain relevant. Anchored by Kirk Douglas’ steely performance, Ace in the Hole is a must-see for those who love their classic Hollywood with a side of grit.

 “Ace in the Hole plays today as both a prescient examination of the modern media landscape, and the public appetite for the disastrous news-story that leads to toxic wish-fulfilment.”
Masters of Cinema.


Apr 03 2023


6:15 pm - 8:00 pm