Friday, August 30, 2013
#19: By the Flashbulb's Bright Glare: Ace in the Hole (1951) and Sweet Smell of Success (1957)
Ace in the Hole (directed by Billy Wilder) and Sweet Smell of Success (directed by Alexander Mackendrick) were brought to 1950’s screens by A-list talent, many of whom were hounded or haunted by the blacklist. These films’ vile protagonists wield quips and cunning as acid-tipped daggers in wars of influence. We are taken to locales of American legend: the Wild West and The Big Apple, where individuals became heroes and communities arose from dust and squalor. Yet New Mexico’s and New York’s caves and canyons are where these characters of ambition come to dupe or be duped, where care becomes a carnival. Born from the land of opportunity, these pictures drip with cynicism and self-disgust, enduring as two of the nastiest Hollywood creations made from and against the media machine.
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P.S. Make it a triple feature with Wilder's Sunset Boulevard as a starter!
P.P.S. I also wrote a post about my five favorite classic cinematographers (including Success' James Wong Howe) at YAM-Mag, and posted some favorite TV and movie soundtrack tracks in this Youtube playlist.