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Spearheaded by an excellent Kirk Douglas, Ace in the Hole is an incisive and sardonic satire that, much like its opportunistic hero, never lets moral compunction get in the way of a good story. Read critic reviews

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Movie Info

With flaws that outweigh his talent, reporter Chuck Tatum (Kirk Douglas) has bounced across the country from job to job. Winding up in New Mexico, Tatum gets work from the local newspaper, but finds that there's not much in the way of pressing news. However, when Tatum catches wind of a treasure hunter (Richard Benedict) trapped in a mineshaft, he turns the story into a media sensation. Soon Tatum is using unscrupulous tactics to draw out the situation, an approach that comes back to haunt him.

Cast & Crew

Kirk Douglas
Charles "Chuck" Tatum
Jan Sterling
Lorraine Minosa
Porter Hall
Jacob Q. Boot
Bob Arthur
Herbie Cook
Frank Cady
Mr. Federber
Gene Evans
Deputy Sheriff
William Schorr
Associate Producer
Hugo Friedhofer
Original Music
Charles Lang
Cinematographer
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News & Interviews for Ace in the Hole

Critic Reviews for Ace in the Hole

All Critics (37) | Top Critics (10) | Fresh (34) | Rotten (3)

  • Ace in the Hole is as vicious and irreverent as classic Hollywood ever got, bowing to nobody in its righteous cynicism.

    April 15, 2019 | Full Review…
  • In a lesser movie, Tatum would share our sympathy for the pathetic man. Here, he's on a parabola in that direction but wants it to intersect with the moment of his own greatest fame.

    February 22, 2019 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…
  • Ace in the Hole is a revelation, as timely now as when it was made.

    August 29, 2014 | Full Review…
  • A lurid pulp indictment of exploitation, opportunism, doctored intelligence, torture for profit, insatiable greed, and shady journalism.

    January 9, 2007 | Full Review…
  • As a diatribe against all that is worst in human nature, it has moments dipped in pure vitriol.

    February 9, 2006 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    September 28, 2005 | Rating: 4/5

Audience Reviews for Ace in the Hole

  • May 10, 2020
    A legendary filmmaker displaying the absolute best of his skills... an actor demonstrating the depths of his incredible acting abilities... and a topic, the responsibilities of the fourth estate, thoroughly chastized... that's what ACE IN THE HOLE is. A must for film lovers and American citizens.
    Aldo G Super Reviewer
  • Oct 17, 2016
    It's an overlooked, rarely mentioned film, but it's probably Billy Wilder's best, and darkest, satire. Kirk Douglas is outstanding. And the movie is more relevant today than ever. Find it. Watch it.
    Joe S Super Reviewer
  • Jul 25, 2016
    Controversial at the time of its release, and considered a classic today, Ace in the Hole not only benefits from one of Kirk Douglas' best performances, nor from Billy Wilder's exceptional direction, both in terms of performances and visuals. Rather, Ace in the Hole rings so true today because its screenplay remains as relevant today as it did back in 1951. Its commentary on journalism, and the emphasis that we place on stories rather than individual human lives, is effectively unsettling. Furthermore, the amount of subtext that the film has on issues such as feminism, human intimacy, and greed are equally as powerful. Ace in the Hole lives up to its name. It is a timeless masterpiece that should be seen by everyone.
    Joey T Super Reviewer
  • Mar 10, 2016
    A harsher indictment of modern culture might be impossible to find. Even the innocent in this film are bottom-feeding leeches who're no better than stopping traffic so that they can get a selfie of themselves at the scene of the accident. Douglas plays a guy not only aware of this but fully convinced that that's the way it should be. Billy Wilder had a axe to grind and he polishes that bad boy to a mirror sheen here. Not only a film but a humanities class as well.
    Kevin M. W Super Reviewer

Ace in the Hole (The Big Carnival) Quotes

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