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Film noir tells of harsh life lessons

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By Kelly Dolejsi

Need a pick-me-up? Then don’t watch “Ace in the Hole” (1951, unrated).
But if you can take it, this black-and-white classic tells a great story while it teaches one of those grim life lessons.
Journalist Chuck Tatum (Kirk Douglas) is on the outs. He used to rake in the bucks, but hard times and personal proclivities have him stuck in small-time Albuquerque, working for an editor who wants him to, of all things, tell the truth.
This goes against his every fiber. But he toes the line until, on his way to cover a snake hunt, he happens across a woman whose husband was just pinned deep in a mining shaft inside an ancient cliff dwelling.
He volunteers to help.
He helps himself to an unbeatable story. He helps the rat-wife (Jan Sterling), who runs a restaurant adjacent to the cliff dwelling, to a full cash register as the curious pull up in their recreational vehicles. He helps the sheriff put on a show worthy of re-election.
The one person he fails to aid is the miner. Unfortunately for Leo Minosa (Richard Benedict), the longer the rescue takes, the more publicity, the more money, the more sensation his predicament generates.


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