Wilder ran into charges of bad taste with this acid tale of reporter Chuck Tatum (Douglas), resentfully stagnating in a New Mexico backwater after being repeatedly fired from jobs in the big time, who sees a chance to manufacture a scoop when a man is trapped by a rockfall. The sheriff, calculating the publicity value to his forthcoming election campaign, agrees to spin out the rescue operation; Tatum builds his story into a nationwide sensation; and as thrill seekers, media hounds, and profiteers turn the site into a gaudy carnival, the victim quietly dies. As a diatribe against all that is worst in human nature, it has moments dipped in pure vitriol ('Kneeling bags my nylons', snaps Sterling as the victim's wife when invited to be photographed praying for her husband's safety), even though the last reel goes rather astray in comeuppance time.
Cast and crew
Billy Wilder, Lesser Samuels, Walter Newman
Kirk Douglas Jan Sterling Robert Arthur Porter Hall Frank Cady Richard Benedict Ray Teal