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Beat the Devil (1953)  IMDB   
Genre Comedy/Drama MPAA
Director John Huston Rating
Writer James Helvick Runtime 93 minutes
Producer Type Movie
Cinematographer Oswald Morris Format DVD
Studio British Lion Films / Independent Film Distributors Disk No. 1/1
Language English Edition
Country Italy UPC
Color Black and White    
Plot Summary

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A quartet of international crooks -- Peterson, O'Hara, Ross and Ravello -- is stranded in Italy while their steamer is being repaired. With them are the Dannreuthers. The six are headed for Africa, presumably to sell vacuum cleaners but actually to buy land supposedly loaded with uranium. They are joined by others who apparently have similar designs.

Summary written by: Ed Stephan {stephan@cc.wwu.edu}
Actor / Character

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Humphrey Bogart ..... Billy Dannreuther
Jennifer Jones (I) ..... Gwendolen Chelm
Gina Lollobrigida ..... Maria Dannreuther
Robert Morley (I) ..... Petersen
Peter Lorre ..... O'Hara
Edward Underdown ..... Harry Chelm
Ivor Barnard ..... Major Ross
Marco Tulli ..... Ravello
Bernard Lee (I) ..... C.I.D.. Inspector
Mario Perrone ..... Purser
Giulio Donnini ..... Administrator
Saro Urzì ..... Captain
Aldo Silvani (I) ..... Charles
Juan de Landa ..... Hispano-Suiza Driver
Review

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Director John Huston and actor Humphrey Bogart, who had previously collaborated on classics ranging from The Maltese Falcon to The African Queen, teamed up for the last time on Beat the Devil, the least known and most unfairly underrated of their five joint efforts. An exquisitely dry comedy with a witty script by Truman Capote, the film finds subtle, absurdist laughs in the misadventures of Bogart's tough customer, who becomes involved in a complex scheme to gain control of a patch of uranium-rich land in Africa. Indeed, the humor is played with such a straight face that many critics have suggested that the film's first audiences did not realize they were watching a comedy, contributing to its box office failure. Audiences in later years, however, have revived interest in the film, fully appreciating its bounty of comic riches. In addition to the well-plotted, always unpredictable script, the production is bolstered by uniformly excellent performances. Bogart treats his usual romantic cynic role with a pleasingly light touch, and establishes superb chemistry with Jennifer Jones, who portrays the female half of a seemingly proper British couple who may not be everything they seem. Especially strong laughs are provided by a memorably colorful rogue's gallery of supporting villains and kooks, including an especially nervous Peter Lorre. --- Judd Blaise

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