• Unrated, 1 hr. 52 min.
  • Drama, Comedy
  • Directed By:
    Billy Wilder
    In Theaters:
    Oct 19, 1951 Wide
    On DVD:
    Jul 17, 2007
  • Paramount Pictures

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Ace in the Hole (The Big Carnival) Reviews

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Fernando F. Croce

A prophetic scald

Full Review Source: CinePassion

August 28, 2009
Mark R. Leeper

Billy Wilder's take on human selfishness and callousness makes for one of the most angry and cynical films ever made.

Full Review | Original Score: 9/10

October 7, 2008
Tim Brayton
Antagony & Ecstasy

Quite possibly the most Billy Wilder-ey of all Wilder's films.

Full Review Source: Antagony & Ecstasy | Original Score: 10/10

September 12, 2007
Neil Cohen
Echo Magazine

| Original Score: 5/5

July 29, 2007
Christopher Null

Not only did Wilder pillory the media in Ace in the Hole, he made monkeys out of everyone. Look at you, he said, you eat this drivel with both hands.

Full Review Source: Filmcritic.com | Original Score: 4.5/5

July 5, 2007
Nathan Lee
Village Voice
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A lurid pulp indictment of exploitation, opportunism, doctored intelligence, torture for profit, insatiable greed, and shady journalism.

Full Review Source: Village Voice

January 9, 2007
Emanuel Levy

Wilder's cynical film of fame-seeking journalists, corrupt politicians, media circus, and the masses' appetite for live tragedy (a man trapped in a cave)was ahead of its times.

Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com | Original Score: A-

August 5, 2006

Time Out New York
Top Critic IconTop Critic

As a diatribe against all that is worst in human nature, it has moments dipped in pure vitriol.

Full Review Source: Time Out New York

February 9, 2006
Dan Fienberg

As dark and cynical as Wilder gets, Ace also features one of Douglas' very best performance. Nobody is sympathetic and nobody is likeable. That's why it's so great.

| Original Score: 4/5

September 28, 2005
Cole Smithey

Douglas delivers desperation and a cynical rejection of humanity that is repulsive as it is mesmerizing.

Full Review Source: ColeSmithey.com | Original Score: A+

August 27, 2005
Carol Cling
Las Vegas Review-Journal

Cynical classic looks better (and truer) every year.

| Original Score: 5/5

June 3, 2005
Daniel M. Kimmel
Worcester Telegram & Gazette

| Original Score: 4/5

November 12, 2004
Dennis Schwartz
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Thoroughly cynical film noir.

Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews | Original Score: B-

October 20, 2004
Dan Lybarger
Nitrate Online

Douglas is wonderfully slimy as a scheming reporter in one of Wilder's most accomplished films.

| Original Score: 5/5

June 23, 2004
Ed Gonzalez
Slant Magazine

Not unlike Fritz Lang's equally misanthropic Scarlet Street, Ace in the Hole plays the squashing of one man's human spirit for societal-weary gravitas.

Full Review Source: Slant Magazine | Original Score: 4/4

January 19, 2004


Douglas puts a perfect spin of self-loathing on his character in what is certainly one of his better performances.

Full Review Source: Film4

May 24, 2003
Michael Scheinfeld
TV Guide's Movie Guide

The film is as grim and pitiless as the relentless drill that pounds away at the mountain top.

Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide | Original Score: 5/5

February 4, 2003
Michael W. Phillips, Jr.
Goatdog's Movies

The Network of the newspaper age.

Full Review Source: Goatdog's Movies | Original Score: 3.5/5

September 9, 2002
Dave Kehr
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This 1951 film, about a cynical reporter who seizes on the plight of a man trapped in a mine shaft to promote his career, is cold, lurid, and fascinating, propelled by the same combination of moral outrage and sneaky admiration.

Full Review Source: Chicago Reader

September 9, 2002
Bosley Crowther
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Ace in the Hole is badly weakened by a poorly constructed plot, which depends for its strength upon assumptions that are not only naive but absurd.

Full Review Source: New York Times | Original Score: 2/5

September 9, 2002

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June 9, 2008
Geoff Andrew
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic
August 16, 2007
Richard Armstrong
Senses of Cinema
November 6, 2003
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