Monday, September 29, 2014

TODAY'S NUGGET: Ace in the Hole (1951) - Ridicule as Satire

[Quick Summary: A newspaper reporter manipulates the media around a man trapped in a cave.]

In anticipation of this soon-to-be-released film critiquing the media, I decided to see how Billy Wilder did it.

Here, Tatum is a reporter who stumbles on a story of a lifetime.  He controls the situation in order to milk it for as long as he can.

I liked how Tatum's hypocrisy is revealed through ridicule (satire).

In this scene, we know that Tatum is trying to delay the rescue:

ex. "RADIO REPORTER: What's your name, sir?

MINER: My name is Kuzak. Did a lot of mining in my day. Silver mining, that is --up in Virginia City. The way I see it --

RADIO REPORTER (holding mike to him): Go on, Mr. Kuzak. We're very much interested. [Tatum is losing control.]

MINER: We had cave-ins. Quite a few of them. One of them I know of farther in than yours.

TATUM: Were you ever in a cave-in yourself, Mr. Kuzak? [Tatum casts doubt to regain control.]

MINER: No, not personally....

TATUM (stepping in - to Kuzak): Mr. Kuzak, this is a Cliff Dwelling, not a silver mine. [Tatum mocks the miner.]

MINER: I think it's all the same. A man's underground and you got to get him out.

TATUM: Well, did you get your man out, Mr. Kuzak. [Tatum bluffs.]

MINER (Shakes his head ruefully): I'm afraid we didn't. We were too late.

The little tension which Kuzak had built up subsides.

TATUM: Well, then suppose you let Mr. Smollett do it his way. From the top." [Tatum shames the miner.]

WHAT I'VE LEARNED: Ridicule makes a sharper point when it's polite ridicule.

Ace in the Hole (1951)
by Billy Wilder, Lesser Samuels, & Walter Newman

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