Ace in the Hole

In an effort to spend some time acknowledging the reformed side of Reformed SHEology, our chosen Film of the Month is Ace in the Hole, starring Kirk Douglas. This is a tale of human depravity like no other!

Kirk Douglas stars as Chuck Tatum, an overly ambitious journalist who will do anything to get the big story - including manufacturing details that would turn an ordinary story into a news sensation. Chuck's "ace in the hole" brings out the worst in everyone . . . with tragic consequences.

Year: 1951 (Not Rated)
Directed by Billy Wilder
Starring Kirk Douglas and Jan Sterling
Setting: Albequerque, New Mexico, 1951.

Content warning: None, other than the fact that this film is considered to be an example of "Film Noir." (That basically means it is a dark story that will probably not leave you with a warm fuzzy feeling in the end.) If you are anything like me, you will be sick to your stomach about halfway through this story and feel incredibly saddened when it is over. Yet, this is a stunningly accurate illustration of the human inclination to center the universe around our own needs, desires, and comforts.

1. The growth of lies. When we lie, we often need to manufacture more lies in an effort to protect the original lies we told. From the beginning of this film, we are met with a stern warning: "Tell the Truth." We will see in this film that lying to get ahead has its consequences.

2. The god of self. We see selfish ambition manifest itself in Chuck Tatum, but pay special attention to Lorraine Mimosa (Jan Sterling), the ungrateful, disrespectful wife of Leo Minosa. As her husband's life hangs in the balance, all she can think about is how much better off she will be without him.

3. Everyone is infected by sin. One of the greatest spectacles in this film is the masses of people being dropped off by the trains, rushing to the mountain site where Leo Minosa is trapped. As he gasps for air and struggles to stay alive, we see literally thousands of people enjoy cotton candy and carousel rides as they wait for news of Leo's rescue. The insensitivity to the needs of another human being in this film is off the charts.

4. The power of the conscience. Guilt sets in finally for Chuck Tatum as he realizes that his depraved desire to worship self has resulted in tragedy. The conscience is the only thing that sets a standard for Chuck and alerts him to the fact that his actions are sinful.

5. The bias in the media. Even in 1951, we see a scathing indictment of the media: that their real agenda is not to tell the truth, but to align themselves with successful corporate giants for personal and professional gain.

The film was originally titled, The Big Carnival.

"Ace in the Hole" is a slang expression meaning a secret or extra asset to assure success, referring to the ace playing card a player has as a hole card (or face down card) in a game of stud poker. It is also a play on words, as in this film, the "ace" -- the thing that is going to give Chuck Tatum (Kirk Douglas) his big break as a journalist -- is a man who is literally trapped in a hole.

Thank God there is hope for the human race through Jesus Christ our Lord!


Jennifer and Geraldine, I want to thank you for the two recent posts. I have been trying to comment on the the last few posts, but could not come up with the words to adequately express my thoughts, or my feelings for that matter. The only thing I have been able to do is to think about the current course of my life, and repent before God for being deceived into thinking that I was truly living the life that He calls me to live. If my commission is to know Christ and to make Him known, then I am not doing well in that task. The realization of that bothers me greatly. My eyes have been focused so much on what is around circumstances, and not on my King who is the only true peace I can know. These posts have been like a punch to the gut. It hurts and it takes my breath away. Yet I know that God is real. I believe what the word says, that it is truth and the answer to all problems. I want to honor God in all that I am and do. I desire that He increase and I decrease. Truly, serving Jesus Christ will cost you everything that you thought was important...your hopes, dreams...everything that ties you to this world...As your sister in Christ Jesus, I really need your prayers.

Jennifer said…
Sonya, wow. Thank you so much for your transparency here. I have been struggling with the same thing lately and the funny thing is, my "circumstances" are quite good. I have no complaints - I am just "bored" with the Word. It has been hard for me to go through the Lord's Table course because I realized that I have been replacing God with EVERYTHING, not just food.

I am so encouraged by your comments as well, because I've been wondering, "Does anybody read this stuff?" LOL. Even that is a poor attitude. I should just write because God is working in me, not because people may or may not be reading. Thanks for hanging in there with us.

Have you seen Ace in the Hole? It really made me depressed when I watched it -- seeing how horribly depraved humanity is, but it really opened my eyes further to how much we need a Savior.

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