Ace in the Hole
aka The Big Carnival
Drama / Film Noir
Directed by Billy Wilder
Cast: Kirk Douglas as Chuck Tatum
Jan Sterling as Lorraine Minosa
Bob Arthur as Herbie Cook
Porter Hall as Jacob Q. Boot
Frank Cady as Mr. Federber
Richard Benedict as Leo Minosa
Ray Teal as Sheriff Gus Kretzer
Lewis Martin as McCardle
John Berkes as Papa Minosa
Frances Dominguez as Mama Minosa
Gene Evans as Deputy Sheriff
Frank Jaquet as Sam Smollett
Harry Harvey as Dr. Hilton
Bob Bumpas as Radio Announcer
Geraldine Hall as Nellie Federber
Richard Gaines as Nagel
Released in 1951 by Paramount Pictures, Ace in the Hole is a dramatic film noir-style film directed by Billy Wilder.
Chuck Tatum is a newspaper reporter who has ruined his own career with his drinking and mishandling of stories for his previous employers.
When he winds up in New Mexico because of car trouble, he manages to land a job at the Albuquerque Sun Bulletin, a small local newspaper which he considers below him, but he is desperate for a job. While out covering a story about a rattlesnake hunt he hears about a man, Leo Minosa, who is trapped in a nearby cave-in.
Rather than taking the quickest way to rescue Leo, Tatum, with the help of the local Sheriff, convinces a contractor to drill from above, which will prolong the story and allow Tatum to gain the attention of larger newspapers with his reporting. Leo’s wife, anxious to get out of her marriage and her stifling life in the small town, goes along with the plan.
As the story grows, crowds begin to gather in a vigil for Leo, but the vigil soon turns into something else entirely. Soon there are hawkers selling their wares and a carnival with rides and games is set up to take advantage of the crowds.
Then, after five days of efforts, word comes that Leo is weakening severely, and is unlikely to survive. Tatum tries to get the contractor to begin the faster way of rescuing Leo by shoring up the walls of the cave-in, but it’s too late - the walls of the cave are too weakened by the previous drilling to be shored up.