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Beat the Devil

Beat the Devil

John Huston (1953)

89min
U Certificate
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Review

Our Score
This sophisticated international romp (co-scripted by Truman Capote and John Huston) must have been more fun to make than to watch. Nevertheless, the splendid cast ensures that the jokes play and the romance works. The spoof on Huston's masterpieces The Maltese Falcon and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is there for those who recognise it, tipped off by the casting of Peter Lorre as well as Humphrey Bogart working again here with Huston. Particularly good are a blonde, pert Jennifer Jones as the wife of oh-so-English Edward Underdown, she a pathological liar, he an "is-he-or-isn't-he" member of the peerage, and goonish gangsters Robert Morley and Ivor Barnard. Not terribly well appreciated in its day, this quirky one-off has achieved something of a cult status, and is well worth catching up with. Trivia buffs may like to note that the uncredited production runner on this film was a young Stephen Sondheim.

Summary

An assorted group of travellers board a boat bound for the African coast in the hope of staking a claim on land rich in uranium deposits. John Huston's idiosyncratic satire of Maltese Falcon-type thrillers was badly received on release, but has now attained cult status, and stars Humphrey Bogart, Jennifer Jones, Gina Lollobrigida, Peter Lorre, Robert Morley, Bernard Lee and Edward Underdown.

Cast & Crew

Billy Dannreuther Humphrey Bogart
Gwendolen Chelm Jennifer Jones
Maria Dannreuther Gina Lollobrigida
Petersen Robert Morley
O'Hara Peter Lorre
Harry Chelm Edward Underdown
Maj Ross Ivor Barnard
Inspector Bernard Lee
Ravello Marco Tulli
Director John Huston
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Other Information

Language: English Black and White Theatrical distributor: Romulus Films Ltd Available on: Available on video and DVD

Comedy

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