Friday, July 14, 2006

Bad news sells best. 'Cause good news is no news

The Ace in the Hole, my favorite Billy Wilder movie, is playing at Film Forum today and tomorrow. Double Indemnity, Sunset Boulevard, and The Apartment (which is showing on Sunday) are really good, but how could I not love this cynical look at journalistic ethics set in New Mexico? After drinking and adultering his way out several respectable East Coast newspapers, Charles Tatum (Kirk Douglas) ends up at the Albuquerque Sun... (quotations from IMDB)

Charles Tatum: Mr. Boot, I was passing through Albuquerque, had breakfast here. I read your paper and thought you might be interested in my reaction.
Jacob Q. Boot: Indeed I am.
Charles Tatum: Well, to be honest, it made me throw up. I don't mean to tell you I was expecting The New York Times, but even for Albuquerque, this is pretty Albuquerque.
Jacob Q. Boot: Alright, [sic] here's your nickel back.

He's sent up to Taos to cover a rattlesnake hunt (things like this still happen), but he finds a better story in Escondido, where a man has gotten trapped inside a mine. Tatum sees that milking the story will make his career (cut and paste parentheses from previous sentence here), and he turns it into a media circus, complete with a Ferris wheel. I see from Wikipedia that the story is loosely based on real events. On a lesser but related note, fifty-five years after the movie was made, the desert truck stop hasn't changed a bit.

The movie contains one of my favorite noir lines of all time: "I've seen hard-boiled eggs in my time, but you, you're twenty minutes."

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Blogger Ben on Wed Aug 09, 06:15:00 PM:
Speaking of Rattlesnake hunt, ever read Harry Crews' book "Feast of Snakes"?
Blogger Kate on Wed Feb 20, 04:16:00 PM:
I just saw this movie a month ago. Incredible.