Criterion Year Week 41: Ace In The Hole

The Criterion Collection, the last vestige of truly collectible DVD and Blu-Ray movies in existence. These are well produced, fancy pants editions of important and interesting films for the discerning film lover.

We continue our journey through Jim's collection of movies with...

Ace In The Hole

Spine Number: 396

Director: Billy Wilder

Genre: Drama

In the history of film there may not be a filmmaker with a more solid pedigree than Billy Wilder. Between 1940 and 1967 he was nominated for 21 Academy Awards, of which he won 6. He won for writing, producing and directing. His films are included on so many "Best of" lists that it's impossible to name them all.

Name a genre, and odds are he is responsible for a film listed in it's top 10.
Comedy? Check, "Some Like it Hot," and "The Apartment."
Romance? Check. "Sabrina."
Film Noir? Double check, "Sunset Blvd." and "Double Indemnity."
Drama? Check. "The Lost Weekend."
Prisoner of War drama? You know it! "Stalag 17."

I could go on and on. Basically, this guy is as legit as possible.

So it should be no surprise that even his lesser known work is some of the best out there.

We give you "Ace in the Hole."

Kirk Douglas is Charles Tatum, an abrasive, down on his luck newspaper man trying to rebuild his career at a small newspaper in New Mexico when a dream story falls into his hands. A local business owner is trapped in a mine collapse while looking for Indian artifacts to sell in his store. Tatum sees a way back to the top. Create a media circus around this human interest story with him as the ringmaster.

We have said this a lot lately, but this movie is almost more relevant today than when it was made. We live in the time of comments over content, and "Ace in the Hole" shows not only how easy it is for that type of journalistic tactic to form, but how quickly it becomes a self sustaining machine.

So, join us as we discuss everything about how our current media landscape used this film as a guide, rather than a cautionary tale, and how we ended up where we are.

Next Week:

Spine number 397: Ivan's Childhood

Also, check this out.

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Right now check it out at

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Looks like Summer Movie League has officially become Fantasy Movie League.

It looks quite fun. Here's how it works.

You have an 8 screen theater.

Every week you pick movies and have a budget/salary cap you have to stay under.

Then you compete against other theaters in your league.

It's fantasy football for movie people.

Our league is Film Thugs 2015 and the password is Porterhouse.

And remember, you can be a part of the show any time you wild like. How's that? All you have to do is call or e-mail us. If you live in the US, or any place that makes calling the US easy, just dial 512-666-RANT and leave us a voicemail. We will read the Google Voice transcript and play your message. It's both funny AND informative.

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E-mail us at and we will read/play whatever you send us, or you can e-mail to be part of  an upcoming "Ask the Film Thugs" show, where we answer questions on any subject without having heard them first.

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Also, be sure to check back often for our new endeavor The Life Masters, where we answer questions to other advice columnists.

Thanks for listening, and until next week...

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