THE BIG CARNIVAL
Kirk Douglas, Jan Sterling
Directed by Billy Wilder
Black & White; Not Rated;
112 minutes; 1951
A cinematic tour de force by producer-director-writer Billy Wilder that brutally satirizes the American penchant for exploitation. Kirk Douglas plays a talented and tough reporter from the East, now working on a small Albuquerque newspaper after he was blackballed for carousing on company time. When a roadside stand owner is buried alive in a cliff cave-in, Douglas persuades the rescue team to prolong the operations so that he can make coast-to-coast headlines and assure himself a comeback.
It's 2006 and men are still trudging deep into mines and looking for air pockets while carbon monoxide fills the tunnels? It's 2006 and Anderson Cooper is asking Dr. Gupta about hyperbaric chambers while Michael Jackson's sister Janet is starring in an SNL rerun on E!? It's 2006 and we really believe that the cable networks didn't know the outcome of this latest clusterlivetruckgangbangratingsgrabberdrama?
This early into the new year, we're sure most folks are paying as much attention to this rigged show as they are to Lindsay Lohan's New Year's Eve "asthma attack." But rest assured, Brian Williams, Joe Scarborough, Rita Cosby-- even Coop-- didn't give a hoot about the plight of coal miners, or their families, as they oohed and aahed about miracles and heartbreaks. Yeah, it'll take a few weeks at least to top the crassness of this updating of the "girl in the well" story.
The best line we caught tonight was CNN's Andy Cooper killing time by telling a story of how earlier in the day, mine officials had betrayed their real fears "off camera," letting our messengers know a different story than the one they were relaying.
They admitted they had one dead body and called it a happy ending in time for the 11 o'clock news?
And then it turns out they got it all wrong?
The Big Carnival is one of the most influential films of the tabloid baby generation. And of course, Billy Wilder is a god.
Click here for Tabloid Baby’s 2005 Person of the Year.
Visit the United Mine Workers of America.
And Billy Wilder, you're right again.
But, hey, nobody's perfect.