(Review originally written at 4 May 2010)

The movie is basically a social commentary, or rather said a commentary against the power of the press and the media-hype they can often create out of something so seemingly small and insignificant. Here we have an average man, being stuck in collapsed mine. Kirk Douglas walks in and bombards it to the 'curse of the mountain of the seven vultures', based on some old Indian legend and creates a big media circus out of it when all of the big newspapers and radio-stations gets a smell of it. This is of course still all real relevant today. This present time perhaps even more than was the case back at the time of this movie. It's all rather effective and I can tell what the film-makers tried to achieve with it all but is it all that interesting to watch really? I don't think so and as a movie it therefore falls kind of flat.

It tells the story of the Kirk Douglas character, who is a journalist who has basically hit rock bottom due to circumstance and lost his job at all of the big papers and therefore decides to start all over again at a small and insignificant local newspaper, hoping that his big break will come soon again, once he'll get noticed again for his writing and journalism now that he is back at the game. Once this just doesn't happen he smells his chance when he just happens to come across this story of this guy that is stuck in the mine, when he is passing through on his way to cover another far less significant story. He decides to milk the entire story completely dry, which gets himself back in the picture again in the journalistic world. And her lies a bit of a problem for this movie for me. The one moment it feels as if the Kirk Douglas character is doing this all out of sympathy and the other he's just a cold-hearted journalist, doing it all for his own personal gain. It's hard to really get into the character and what to think of him, since the movie its story keeps trowing things around. It's not really pleasant, also really not since when his characters is cold and stubborn he really is cold and stubborn. Can't really say that I blame Kirk Douglas for this, since he is simply being a superb actor in this movie.

I'm a big fan of Billy Wilder but I have to say that this is one of his weaker directed movies. It just misses that little edginess and smartness about its subject that for instance a movie like "The Lost Weekend" did had. It's as if he himself did not fully know what direction to head in and what style to apply to it. It's a bit of a bland movie that heads in too many different direction, also with its characters, throughout the movie.

But as mentioned earlier the movie is still mostly being effective with its subject, that is quite relevant and shows what's wrong with modern journalism, when all morals are gone and people are doing everything to create and often attempt to control the cause and outcome of their own stories. The movie is just not being told and shot in the best way imaginable.

In my opinion still a good- but also a Billy Wilder movie you can easily do without.


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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