Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

16 April 2008

Ace in the Hole

I previously wondered aloud why Kirk Douglas wasn't nominated for the Best Actor Oscar in 1952 for his excellent work in William Wyler's film Detective Story, but I got my answer today.

That's because I finally watched his other film from the 1951 awards season: Billy Wilder's Ace in the Hole. Kirk Douglas clearly gave two of the best performances of 1951, because he is fucking brilliant in Ace in the Hole. The film also happens to be stellar: bold, unforgiving, beautifully filmed in a film noir style even though it follows a newspaper man, not the typical leading man for a noir film. Ace in the Hole is an extremely intelligent satire of media and reportage. Except that it isn't funny. Ever.

Instead it's pointed and smart, skewering sensationalist news media, their corrupt tactics, and the people who buy into their kind of journalism. The DVD of Ace in the Hole was only recently released by the Criterion Collection, so this gem of Billy Wilder's oeuvre has gone largely unseen. Now is the time to check it out. It's a great film with some great performances.