Wednesday, 13 October 2010

District Mine - An Ace In The Hole

Today's big news story is the rescue of the 33 Chilean miners who have been trapped in a cave-in for what seems like forever.  Now while it is great news that they are finally getting out, the way my mind works is that it immediately reminded me of one of the films that I had watched for (500) Films of Empire called Ace In The Hole.  It concerned an unscrupulous out-of-work journalist who was first at the scene of a man trapped in a cave-in and delayed and manipulated the rescue attempts in order that he could build the story to sell to the press.
Now of course I'm not saying that this is the case here but it does have a hint of life imitating art imitating life, with Sky News apparently having a countdown from 33 to 1 as the miners come out.
It is a forgotten gem of a film that anyone who has been following the current news events should watch.  It is tough to track down but is available on iTunes.

385 - Ace In The Hole - 4 stars
As I head towards the finishing line, I am seeing a lot of the highly rated so called 'classics' of cinema, so it is nice that the Top 500 can still throw up a relatively unseen gem like Ace In The Hole.
Also called The Big Carnival it revolves around Tatum, a ruthless journalist who exploits the situation when a man gets trapped in a cave-in so that it becomes a media circus that he has control over.
There seems to be a theme running through this list that all the films that deal with journalism, depict journalist as unscrupulous, amoral douchebags who will do anything to get ahead (Sweet Smell Of Success, Network).
Now we all this type of story.  A heartless cynic exploits someone for their own advantage before eventually revealing a heart of gold and learns the error of their ways.
But in the hands of Billy Wilder, who also wrote and directed Double Indemnity and Sunset Boulevard which hardly show people as beacons of light, and Kirk Douglas, that character arc never seems like coming before it will be too late.
Douglas delivers another great performance and has terrific screen presence.  Tatum is a nasty piece of work; self-absorbed, he exploits people, not afraid to slap a woman, a hard drinker and totally heartless, but Douglas does his best to make the audience empathise and connect with his character nontheless.
To say anymore about the story could risk spoiling the film, so instead just seek out this cracking little gem of a film and another example of the old saying "They don't make 'em like that anymore".

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