Ace in the Hole
(U) 111min (PDX DVD retail)
At long last, the late, great Billy Wilder’s very finest – and all too rarely seen – film is available on DVD (if only on region one). Released in 1951, the year after Wilder’s acerbic indictment of the movie business, Sunset Boulevard, Ace in the Hole is an even more bitterly cynical condemnation of post-war America. Where William Holden’s struggling, emasculated Hollywood screenwriter had some redeeming qualities, Kirk Douglas’ self-loathing huckster newspaper reporter Chuck Tatum has none. And the story of Tatum’s ruthless exploitation of the scoop of a lifetime provides a searing commentary on the moral decline of America and anticipates the media circus we suffer today. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it was a flop the first couple of times it was released.
This newly digitally restored two-disc edition comes with a swathe of extras, including a Wilder documentary, interviews with Wilder, Douglas and co-screenwriter Walter Newman, a video epilogue by Spike Lee and an essay by Guy Maddin.