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Tuesday March 5th 2024

Ace In The Hole | 1951

Washed up in the Mid-West, wise-ass New York hack Chuck Tatum (Kirk Douglas) sees a chance to break back into the bigtime by milking the human interest story of a cave-in victim, even when it means holding off a rescue attempt.

The hick town home of Tatum’s paper, the Sun-Bulletin, is Albuquerque, central New Mexico, where director Billy Wilder grabbed verité-style shots using a concealed camera mounted on a truck.

Although the underground scenes were filmed on a mock-up back at the Paramount Studios on Melrose Avenue in Hollywood, the desert location really is New Mexico.

You won’t be able to follow the trail to the old Indian Cliff Dwellings at the ‘Minosa Trading Post’, where Leo Minosa (Richard Benedict) was entombed, though. The film used a gigantic set – claimed at the time to be the largest constructed for any movie other than a war film.

Towering 237 feet into the air and covering an area 1,200 by 1,600 feet, it incorporated the cliff dwellings, the Indian settlement and the ensuing carnival. You can visit the breathtaking New Mexico desert where the mammoth set was built some twenty miles to the west of Gallup, I-40, on the Arizona border. I-40, incidentally, is part of the old Route 66.