Billy Wilder has written and directed many great motion pictures, however, "The Big Carnival" is clearly his most underrated project, although a notorious flop at the time.
Kirk Douglas is the only star in the cast. He plays a "journalist" exploiting tragedy for headlines. A man in a small western mining town is pinned and cannot be directly resued. Douglas, milks the story for days, grabbing headlines and gaining sympathetic public attention.
The story turns as the coverage becomes a side show. People show up to see it for themselves. Songs are written, shirts are sold, a real human drama diminshed by a combination of voyeurism and profiteering. It becomes all the more intriguing as Douglas convinces local officials to take the long way to get the man out safely, rather than a shorter route, so the community might continue to reap attention and the economic benefits of a national audience.
A great movie that deserved better than it received in 1951.