“Ace In The Hole”

Kirk Douglas is a very odd character. He has made some very great films, and some rubbish.

Director Billy Wilder has done much the same.

The 1951 film “Ace In The Hole” is a much neglected masterpiece for them both.

The plot, and the no spoilers rule is going to be tricky today, is simple. Douglas plays a once famous but now on the decline journalist. On a story, they discover a man is trapped under a cliff and is alive. Rescue efforts are in hand and Tatum, the journalist, covers it.

It’s a very cynical story. As the days pass, sightseers come, a fairground is set up with concession stands and the rescue continues.

The end is not what you expect. Watch it to find out…

It’s a film that is rarely shown. The portrayal of the journalist as manipulating is relentless. Douglas’ character has no redeeming qualities. And the critics hated it.

Sherlock Holmes

We’re not going to pick one film today, rather a whole series, the whole Sherlock Holmes series starring Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce.

These started in 1939 with “The Hound Of The Baskervilles” and finished in 1946 with “Dressed To Kill”, a total of 14 films in a very short time. The first were for 20th Century-Fox, then they moved to Universal. The first ones are generally better.

As you would probably expect, both actors got deeply associated with these roles and probably hated it by the end, but both continued into radio series, though Rathbone dropped out first.

They seem to jump around a bit in time period, some set during World War II and others in a more appropriate time for the stories. And as the series progressed, Watson moved from being an intelligent assistant to a buffoon, definitely not in line with the stories.

The regular supporting cast was very strong too, including Dennis Hoey as Lestrade, Lionel Atwill and Mary Gordon as Mrs Hudson.

“The Hound Of The Baskervilles” is a good starter, “Terror By Night” is good and “The Pearl Of Death”. Titles do seem to vary in different countries.

The films used to be shown regularly but now seem to be restricted to cable tv, in the UK at least, but the whole set, nicely restored, is available for a small sum (£17, as I write this) on dvd.

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