Billy Wilder made Ace in the Hole as a follow-up to the acclaimed Sunset Boulevard, essentially writing his own ticket in Hollywood. The story he opted to make was a cruel indictment of the American media, one which has only become more accurate and biting over the years. The film opens with reporter Chuck Tatum, a refugee from big city newspapers who's now stuck in a desolate New Mexico town. Desperate to get back on top (and earn enough money to feed his drinking habit), he stumbles upon the perfect story after toiling away for a miserable year in the sticks: A treasure hunter (a looter, if you will) has gotten stuck in a cave-in in some old Indian caves. Guy in a well: That'll sell papers, right?
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Well, it will involve tears and a lot of courtroom hair-tearing, and given that this is a feel-good movie from 1948, it's all going to come up aces.
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Newcomers to this story may see John Wayne in a military uniform and an airplane on the cover of this DVD (with a title that evokes the air force) and assume, understandably, that they're going to be watching another military drama. Not so: Wayne's Dan Roman is a commercial pilot, and he's working the Honolulu-San Francisco route years after surviving a crash that killed everyone in his family except himself. (Also in the cockpit is Robert Stack, playing the role he would ape years later in Airplane!)
Continue reading: The High And The Mighty Review
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