|"The Mountain of the Seven Vultures"|
This weekend I was moved to revisit Billy Wilder’s Ace in the Hole (1951), in which Kirk Douglas plays unscrupulous newspaper writer out to capitalize on the misfortune of a local man trapped in a cave in the middle of the New Mexico desert. It’s an ingenious film, one of the wickedest that Wilder ever made—sharper and crueler than Double Indemnity, I think, and more scathing than Sunset Boulevard, great as both of those films are. The sense of place in Ace in the Hole is particularly strong. Most of the action occurs in the desert outside Albuquerque, where the vastness of the geography almost seems to mock the pettiness and hubris of the men and women moving around on the ground like ants. The cave in which the local man is trapped is known by the locals as The Mountain of the Seven Vultures; the name both makes reference to scavengers like Douglas’ Charles Tatum and lends a supernatural dimension to the series of unfortunate events that transpire over the course of the film.
|"How!": Kirk Douglas with Iron Eyes Cody.|
|Robert Arthur with Frances Dominguez as Mama Minosa.|
|The Federber family--with Indian headdresses.|