During a high profile Mafia testimony case in California's Riverside County, a hired killer checks-in a hotel room near the courthouse while his next door depressed neighbor wants to commit suicide due to marital problems.
When Hildy Johnson, the top reporter of a Chicago newspaper announces that he is quitting to get married, his editor, Walter Burns desperately tries to change his mind. When denial, cursing, and luring don't work, Walter resorts to tricks. It's the day before a supposed communist is to be hanged, and all Chicago waits with baited breath. Meanwhile, each of the papers has a man on the story trying to get a scoop or angle for themselves. With a train to catch at midnight to join his fiancé, Hildy is at first not interested, but events and his own habits work against him as the day unfolds, and he can't help but get roped in, especially when the man to be executed escapes and then almost literally falls into his lap.Written by
In 1950,Billy Wilder told the story of a reporter (Kirk Douglas ) who "exploited the "human interest story" for his own benefit "(Maltin).It turned into a tragedy.In 1974,he comes back to the dark side of the medias ,no matter if it's a comedy:you've got to pay attention to all the serious things the director is telling us.In 1950,people were having a wild time around a man buried in a hole(hence the first title "ace in the hole"!);in 1974,people are playing cards and drinking whiskey in front of the gallows :nothing really changes. You would have to search for a long time to find clever comedies like this one in the contemporary cinema;and if people are disappointed,too bad for them:Billy Wilder was one of the greatest American directors of all time,even when he was a bit sub-par,he was better than the rest.
There are numerous funny moments:Lemmon turned into a exhibitionist by his boss,the desk in which the two reporters hide the condemned person -which might be a spoof on Hitchcock's "the rope",the "stolen" watch...
What is sad is Wilder's end of career:after the overlooked "Fedora" (1976)which he made with European money and which was unfairly deemed "a poor man's "sunset blvd"",and the remake of the French movie "l'emmerdeur" ("buddy buddy"),he was never given a chance to direct another movie.How unfair!
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