Film screening: “Ace in the Hole,” Billy Wilder’s corrosive exposé of sensationalist journalism Mon., July 25

Ace-in-the-Hole1_WebThe Best Video Film & Cultural Center film series “5 Great Directors—5 Great Moral Dilemmas,” continues Monday, July 25, with a screening of legendary director Billy Wilder’s exposé of sensationalist journalism in the 1951 film “Ace in the Hole,” starring Kirk Douglas.  The series—presented in concert with Temple Beth Sholom’s Adult Education program—runs on consecutive Mondays from July 11 through August 8. Each screening starts at 7:15 PM and admission is $7. (Temple Beth Sholom members get in for free.)

Best Video founder Hank Paper will introduce the movie and lead the optional post-film discussion for “Ace in the Hole.”

In a 2007 review at the time of the movie’s Criterion DVD release, critic Roger Ebert wrote, “There’s not a soft or sentimental passage in Billy Wilder’s ‘Ace in the Hole’ (1951), a portrait of rotten journalism and the public’s insatiable appetite for it. It’s easy to blame the press for its portraits of self-destructing celebrities, philandering preachers, corrupt politicians or bragging serial killers, but who loves those stories? The public does. Wilder, true to this vision and ahead of his time, made a movie in which the only good men are the victim and his doctor. Instead of blaming the journalist who masterminds a media circus, he is equally hard on sightseers who pay 25 cents admission. Nobody gets off the hook here.”

Remaining Schedule:

July 25: Billy Wilder’s “ACE IN THE HOLE” • A scrabbling and ambitious journalist exploits the sufferings of the victims of a coal mine disaster in order to jump-start his career, but the situation quickly escalates into an out-of-control circus. This brilliant un-Hollywood film, with white hot acting by Kirk Douglas, was way ahead of its time in 1951. In an era of social networking and the 24 hour news cycle, this film’s time is now.

August 1: John Frankenheimer’s “THE TRAIN” • What is worth more: a masterpiece of art or a human life? Like “The Swimmer,” this Burt Lancaster film is unforgettable. A stationmaster and resistance leader is asked to stop — at any cost — a heavily guarded Nazi train filled with France’s best paintings. Non-stop suspense, ingenious plotting and a philosophic context keep this film on track as a celluloid masterpiece. With Jeanne Moreau and Paul Scofield as the equally determined, art connoisseur commandant of the titular train.

August 8: Douglas Sirk’s “MAGNIFICENT OBSESSION” • When a rich, self-absorbed playboy crashes his speedboat on a lake, the only ambulance in town saves his life rather than tending to a stricken self-sacrificing doctor. When the doctor dies, it sets in motion a journey of unexpected twists and turns leading to a higher power, including a torrid and forbidden love.