DK’s review published on Letterboxd:
The viewer will not find the concept of conscience or sympathy at this time, Billy Wilder's Ace In The Hole expounds mercilessly regarding the cunning and rottenness of journalism towards a certain situation that could benefit one party. Three of Wilder's previous films Double Indemnity, The Lost Weekend, and Sunset Boulevard have established Wilder as a director who fancy to depicting the dark side of humanity in his own manner. Despite the three films are clearly a dark exploration of desire and greed from the human nature, those are only the beginning compared to this one work which is considered the most cynical of Billy Wilder's filmography. Ace In The Hole eager to expose the dark and rotten side of human nature, and the immoral and selfish actions of a journalist.
The term of Ace In The Hole generally is the advantage or resource that is saved until the right opportunity presents itself, as might be expected this slight definition has something to do in this film. Chuck Tatum is a frustrated former big city journalist now working for an Albuquerque newspaper, he exploits a story about a man trapped in a cave to revive his career, another of Tatum's other depravity here is to turn it into an interesting show by promoting the situation with publicity national media bringing a frenzy of curious tourists to the site and gawking at the tragedy, while capitalizing on public interest and delaying rescue efforts. The way Tatum's thinking develops about the trapped man is subtle directing, writing, and acting. In a smaller film, Tatum will share sympathy with the viewer for the pathetic man. Here, he's on the parabola in that direction but wants it to intersect with his own moment of greatest fame.
Ace In The Hole's savagery is underpinned by Charles Lang's expressionistic black-and-white cinematography, which takes advantage of the bright and hot desert landscapes of the Southwest. Like all Billy Wilder films, Ace in the Hole is full of symbolism. Part of the magic of Wilder filmmaking is his way of overlaying a scene with information and ideas, some subtle and some very obvious. However, each character in Wilder films has its own purpose and meaning. The film is way ahead of its time in estimating how low the media will sell a story. Tatum leads a carnival of spectators, vendors, and other reporters who want a piece of the story until the tragic end inevitably happens. Despite it was released in 1951, Ace In The Hole proved to be influential, with many film concepts and themes later informing films such as Sidney Lumet's Network (1976). A world where the lines between journalism and entertainment blur to become one and the same have arrived.
Ace In The Hole is an engrossing, genuine tension, lack of morals, emotion, high drama, and subject that stir the mind, this film sadly shows human egocentrism and self-obsession. Kirk Douglas delivered his best performance as the most depraved character. A great display of exposure to extraordinary corruption among the press, police, business and government. Billy Wilder did it again!