Chapter

Barbed Wire Satire

GENE D. PHILLIPS

in Some Like It Wilder

Published by University Press of Kentucky

Published in print December 2009 | ISBN: 9780813125701
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780813135403 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5810/kentucky/9780813125701.003.0008
Barbed Wire Satire

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Writing in the mid-1950s, film critic Manny Farber praised certain Hollywood directors like Billy Wilder who would “tunnel” beneath the surfaces of the stories they were filming and seek to illuminate, in a shrewd and unsentimental fashion, deeper truths, usually about the unglamorous side of the human condition. Tunneling underneath the plot to reach a deeper meaning is a particularly apt metaphor for Ace in the Hole, which deals with a mine cave-in. It takes place in a rural town on the edge of a wasteland. It was Walter Newman who suggested to Wilder the concept of Ace in the Hole. Wilder chose Stalag 17, a smash hit by Donald Bevan and Edmund Trzcinski. They described the play as a comedy-melodrama about American GIs interned in a Nazi prisoner-of-war camp. Wilder preferred to overlook that his homeland was part of the Nazi empire at the time Stalag 17 takes place, so the setting of the film is not identified as Austria. It is clear that Stalag 17 is essentially a whodunit. With this, Wilder had made a successful Broadway play into an equally successful movie.

Keywords: Ace in the Hole; Stalag 17; Billy Wilder; Walter Newman; Donald Bevan; Edmund Trzcinski; comedy; melodrama

Chapter.  11318 words. 

Subjects: Film

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