June 20, 1951 [Ace in the Hole]
The theater was almost empty; I guess nobody wants to go to the movies to be chastised--well, more than that: hated and scorned, rubes that we are, gawking from our cars while the earth squeezes the life out of somebody. I thought the picture was fun, though: Douglas is a wonderful heel, his face constantly squeezed in bitter recognition, his hands curled beneath the weight of his ambition. And it’s a great picture to look at, dry and open, the sky watching too, without blinking.
The movies want to keep us happy, so it’s no wonder that something like Ace in the Hole is failing. But I watched it, and thought of von Stroheim and Tourneur, and Griffith and even Edison at times, thrusting the mirror in our faces, like Diogenes with his lamp, searching doggedly but vainly for one human being.