Moviedrome Mondays: Ace in the Hole (1951)

Since I could not find a youtube video link of Moviedrome presenter Alex Cox introducing legendary director-writer Billy Wilder’s 1951 Film-Noir drama Ace in the Hole, my readers will have to make due with a transcript once again (read here). The episode’s original airdate was July 23, 1989 (read here). When it comes to summing up Wilder career as a whole, I do not know If I can go as far as Cox does here in calling him the cinematic equivalent of Vladimir Nabokov. Cox says that he’sย completely cynical, without sentimentality, without remorse, and heโ€™s as great a craftsman with film as Nabokov was with words. – well, that depends on what Wilder film he is talking about. This aspect does apply (at least for me) to three of the four Wilder films he mentioned – Sunset Boulevard, this one and Some Like It Hot, but The Apartment contained some unnecessary sentiment. All that being said, Ace in the Hole is undoubtedly Wilder at his most cynical and I rank it somewhere in the top four of my favorite films from him. Also, when it comes to Cox’s closing paragraph on this film, I could not have said what he said any better (read here). If any of you readers are interested in reading my list of my favorite Billy Wilder films, read here.

Here is a youtube video link to the film’s original theatrical trailer

Also, here is a youtube video link to Director/Screenwriter Josh Olson’s Trailers from Hell commentary on the film


12 thoughts on “Moviedrome Mondays: Ace in the Hole (1951)

  1. I love that film, and reviewed it on my blog. The story showed great prescience about callous press intrusion, and Douglas was on fire in the lead role.
    Best wishes, Pete.

  2. Ace in the Hole is a gem in Billy Wilderโ€™s impressive filmography. As Alex Cox says his films have perfect symmetry. Everywhere you look, the acting, editing, art direction, the music appear flawless.

  3. I just left a reply under the blog entry that features your review of Ace in the Hole ๐Ÿ™‚ I could not have stated what you said any more eloquently ๐Ÿ™‚ Anyway, keep up the great work as always ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. I did not even know about this movie. Kirk has always been a huge favorite over here.
    off topic. I noticed you say you are out of Niles, Illinois. We lived in Homewood for a while. I was just a brat. Later we lived on a huge tomato farm in the country. Went to a country school there with kids drinking goats milk out of jar. Just grade school. If we were “good” our teacher would play Mexican Hat Dance by Gene Autry on her old gramophone. Such memories!!
    Tale care.

  5. I do not know how often you order from, but the website has the Criterion Collection edition of Ace in the Hole and here is the link below in case you are interested

    Awesome to hear that you were from Illinois as well ๐Ÿ™‚ I have heard of Homewood, Illinois ๐Ÿ™‚ I read that it is a nice place to live as well ๐Ÿ™‚ Speaking of Illinois, I do not know If you ever tried this, but have you ate an Italian Beef Sandwich?\

    Here is a link below that gives you a little history on it and thanks for dropping by ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Thanks for the link.
    And that Italian Beef sandwich !! WOW that looks good! You Yanks sure know how to do the food thing. I’m heading Stateside soon and I’m gonna chow down on some of that.

  7. “Thanks for the link.
    And that Italian Beef sandwich !! WOW that looks good! You Yanks sure know how to do the food thing. Iโ€™m heading Stateside soon and Iโ€™m gonna chow down on some of that.”

    I am pretty sure that Italian Beef is sold all over (though I can’t confirm that with 100% authenticity), but it is mainly a Chicago tradition. However, where are you heading Stateside If I may ask so I can search for a place there that has it and copy and paste for you? ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. I love Ace in the Hole. I think it’s a very timely film. And though I agree that Wilder is masterful, at the very top of the movie making craft I don’t agree with anything Cox said about him. I don’t think of Wilder as cynical, but I do think of him as truthful. He is sentimental at times, it’s just that his interpretation of sentimentality can come across as rather cold to those who have trouble reconciling him as one of “the” directors of Noir. Wilder is more of a Noir director than he is Comedy director. Yet he often is thought of in the reverse. He is/was a wonderful director period. But make no mistake–his films have teeth. Don’t be surprised when he bites you.

  9. When it comes to Cox’s depiction of Wilder as cynical, that depends on the film because I can’t really sum him on a whole as cynical – The Apartment suffered from some unnecessary sentiment as much as I admire it. Nevertheless, Ace in the Hole is undoubtedly Wilder at his most vicious – I mean it attacks the press as dishonest and as Cox implies, nobody is spared. Anyway, thanks for dropping by ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. True. It’s a very timely film. I agree about the Apartment, but Wilder really turns Jack Lemon loose in the film. The film is a vehicle for Lemon. It’s a calculated move by Wilder–a brilliant one, I think–he’s throwing the screwball into what could have been (should have been considering Wilder’s pedigree) a Black Comedy. Wilder is very old school. He could direct anything. I wouldn’t have been surprised to see a Billy Wilder musical. He was capable of it.

  11. Well screwball comedy can contain sentiment, but it usually more subtle than what one saw in those occasional moments I implied in The Apartment. As for Jack Lemmon, he was fantastic in the film as was Shirley MacLaine. As for whether or not Wilder could direct anything, it depends. As for his comedies, I love Avanti!, Kiss Me, Stupid and Some Like It Hot. As for his Noirs, I love Ace in the Hole, Sunset Boulevard and Double Indemnity. He also tackled a Sherlock Holmes comedy that I loved called The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes. Fedora is also a great drama. If you want to know more about where I stand on Wilder’s films, just read that last link in the paragraph before those two videos. Anyway, thanks for dropping by ๐Ÿ™‚

    P.S. actually Wilder did direct a musical from 1948 entitled The Emperor Waltz with Bing Crosby and Joan Fontaine. Here is a link to that below

    Also, he at one time wanted to play out The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes as a musical, but he eventually dropped that decision. Here is a link to that story below

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