Ace in the Hole (4/20/12)

Ace in the HoleMovie Ninety

Ace in the Hole is a unique noir from the legendary Billy Wilder starring  Kirk Douglas that takes no holds barred against the media’s mentality of getting a scoop.

In the film, Chuck Tatum (Douglas) travels from New York to New Mexico as his career is faltering. He gets the story of a lifetime one day when he learns of a man trapped in a cave collapse. Tatum manipulates the story, which gains huge nationwide interest, and controls the media circus for profit until Tatum’s luck runs out.

I will admit that it took me quite a long time to warm up to Ace in the Hole, which disappointed me. I’m a huge fan of Wilder’s work, having already reviewed Some Like it Hot and The Seven Year Itch this year, I am also a fan of his darker films. It’s not to say Ace in the Hole is a bad film, it’s not at all but it is perhaps too slow to gain momentum. I also found Kirk Douglas to simply be wrong for the role of Chuck Tatum, he simply isn’t slimy enough.

Regardless of my initial hesitations with Ace in the Hole, the second half of the film had a hold on me. We can guess that things are not going to end well for Tatum, but watching the events unfold is much like a train wreck. Ace in the Hole is certainly something I could watch again at some point, but it is not at the top of any of my ‘favorites’ lists.

I give it 4 mean looking Kirk Douglas’ out of 5.

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Seven Year Itch (3/31/12)

Seven Year ItchMovie Seventy

The Seven Year Itch is probably most well-known for the iconic image of Marilyn Monroe over the subway grate but the movie itself is also a great watch.

The Seven Year Itch is my second Billy Wilder and Marilyn Monroe movie this year (the first was Some Like It Hot) and while the two films are similar in some ways they each have distinct feels. Seven Year Itch has a much zanier air about  it but both movies are quite funny. Monroe’s acting is more focused in this as well.

The movie is about Richard Sherman (Tom Ewell), a married man with an overactive imagination whose wife goes away for the summer with their son. He then meets his neighbor, The Girl, (Marilyn Monroe) and wants to seduce her. The title phrase refers to the waning attention of a man after seven years in a monogamous relationship. As the movie progresses Sherman fantasizes about The Girl and they spend a lot of time together but his imagination and nerves end up getting the best of him.

Apparently this was originally a Broadway play that Ewell was reprising his role for. Most of the movie occurs in his apartment, so that makes sense. He also spends a lot of time talking to himself as a sort of narration. My wife commented that it feels a lot like A Christmas Story, where the adult Ralphie is narrating the actions of his younger self.

Billy Wilder’s movies are essential viewing as far as I’m concerned. The Seven Year Itch isn’t his strongest work, but it is iconic. Some of the comedy is a bit silly and even a bit dated, perhaps, but the film has held up quite well overall.

I give it 4 stairs to nowhere out of 5.

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