Thursday, April 19, 2012

"Ace In the Hole" with Kirk Douglas and Jan Sterling (1951)

This film was originally released under the title "The Big Carnival", and is loosely based on the true story of Floyd Collins, who became trapped in the Sand Caves in the Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky on January 30, 1925. His misfortune became a media circus, as hundreds of radio broadcasters, and newspapermen, raced to the scene. The story was updated for the film, which was directed by Billy Wilder, who also wrote the screenplay with Lesser Samuels. The story concerns a former big city reporter, Chuck Tatum, played by Kirk Douglas, who finds himself in a small town in New Mexico when a mine collapse strands a local miner, Leo Minosa, played by Richard Benedict, inside. His wife, Lorraine Minosa, played by Jan Sterling, is the struggling owner of the local restaurant, who soon finds herself at the center of a sensational news story.

The reporter, who has found a rear way into the mine, keeps that information to himself, as he seeks to exploit the story for all that it is worth. Tired of working for a small paper in Albuquerque, he dreams of making it back to the top of his profession; even at the cost of the trapped man's life.

The film is almost a harbinger of things to come in relation to today's 24/7 news cycle, where the ratings become more important than the story, overshadowing the importance of our own humanity.

Tight direction by Billy Wilder, amid the sparse desert landscape make this film a winner, as the media descends on the small town, setting up a death watch that will sell papers, and maybe even re-launch a news career.

For more background on the true story of Floyd Collins and the Sands Cave tragedy, here is a link to Wikipedia;

Yom HaShoah - lo nishkach - לא נשכח

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