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Blu-ray Review: Ace in the Hole

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Ace in the HoleJournalistic ethics have been a topical talking point for the last few years thanks to a certain paper’s (or papers’) penchant for phone hacking and the questionable tactics of organisations such as WikiLeaks. Though released in 1950s, Billy Wilder’s drama Ace in the Hole seems remarkably prescient as it examines bad and life-threatening journalistic practice by focusing on a complex and compelling central character.

Kirk Douglas plays the protagonist, Chuck Tatum, who goes from lovably arrogant to downright nasty over the course of the movie. He is a newspaper reporter in desperate need of a job. He discovers a story in Albuquerue, New Mexico (which, decades later, would become the home of High School Musical and Breaking Bad) and sets about altering the outcome so he can be the first to cover it. A man has been trapped underground. Tatum cranks up the sensational-side to an already sensational situation and makes sure the rescue attempt takes much longer than necessary. As the situation continues, his celebrity status increases and the public gather to witness the rescue of the helpless man inside the rocks.

Hype, tabloid hyperbole and deception all make for riveting themes, and watching this film now makes one think how ahead of its time it must have been when it originally played over sixty years ago. It was actually a disaster with both audiences and critics at the time. Even though it may not seem as accessible or fun as Wilder’s other films, such as Sunset Boulevard or Some Like It Hot, it still has a lot to offer as a dramatic piece. I hope Eureka’s new Blu-ray edition will help introduce it to an even greater audience.

A note on the disc: Eureka Entertainment are, in my opinion, one of the best home entertainment distributors in the world and have a reputation for lovingly presenting their acquired films in beautiful editions boasting the very best transfers. Ace in the Hole is presented on this disc in 1080p High Definition and it looks close to flawless.

The black and white cinematography is superbly reproduced and film grain is still present without becoming overly “noisy”. Sound is also very good. Once again, Eureka have added another excellent package to their Masters of Cinema Collection.

Ace in the Hole (1951), directed by Billy Wilder, is available on Duel format Blu-ray and DVD edition from 28 April. Watch the trailer below: 

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