6.6/10
7,175
120 user 44 critic

Beat the Devil (1953)

On their way to Africa are a group of rogues who hope to get rich there, and a seemingly innocent British couple. They meet and things happen...

Director:

John Huston

Writers:

Claud Cockburn (based on the novel "Beat the Devil" by) (as James Helvick), Truman Capote (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Humphrey Bogart ... Billy Dannreuther
Jennifer Jones ... Mrs. Gwendolen Chelm
Gina Lollobrigida ... Maria Dannreuther
Robert Morley ... Peterson
Peter Lorre ... Julius O'Hara
Edward Underdown Edward Underdown ... Harry Chelm
Ivor Barnard ... Maj. Jack Ross
Marco Tulli Marco Tulli ... Ravello
Bernard Lee ... Insp. Jack Clayton
Mario Perrone Mario Perrone ... Purser on SS Nyanga
Giulio Donnini Giulio Donnini ... Administrator
Saro Urzì ... Captain of SS Nyanga (as Saro Urzi)
Juan de Landa ... Hispano-Suiza Driver (as Juan De Landa)
Aldo Silvani Aldo Silvani ... Charles - Restaurant Manager
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Storyline

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. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Europe, the Mediterranean, Africa ... This Was Their Road to Adventure and a Fabulous Fortune ... A Dangerous Band of Desperate Men Goaded on By Two Beautiful Women ... All of Them Out to Beat the Devil at His Own Game! See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

UK | Italy | USA

Language:

English | Italian

Release Date:

17 December 1953 (Italy) See more »

Also Known As:

Schach dem Teufel See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

John Huston couldn't stifle his laughter at the sight of the bloody-mouthed (but not seriously injured) Humphrey Bogart following his crash. He remembered Bogart muttering in response, "John...you dirty, no-good thun-of-a-bith!" See more »

Goofs

When we see the newspaper article about Vanmeer's murder, early in the film, only the first paragraph belongs to the story; what we can see of the second and third paragraphs is about a need for new school buildings. See more »

Quotes

Billy Dannreuther: Trouble with England, it's all pomp and no circumstance. You're very wise to get out of it, escape, while you can.
See more »

Alternate Versions

The original American release version was truncated and had scenes moved around, making a mess of the story line. The uncut version--released overseas by Romulus--was finally restored in the U.S. by Sony in 2016. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Jack Benny Program: Humphrey Bogart Show (1953) See more »

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User Reviews

A Spoof That Works After a Half Century
7 February 2002 | by lawprofSee all my reviews

Hadn't seen this film in a long time and I'm glad to have caught it again. It's at the apex of black-and-white barely tongue-in-cheek comedies with a stellar cast that had a blast making the film.

Jennifer Jones, beautiful as always, seems barely able to stay inside her role, laughter threatening to break out at any moment. Humphrey Bogart has a recurrent quizzical "Am I really doing this?" expression.

Tied in with a gang of bumbling crooks seeking a fortune in uranium in Africa, illicitly of course, Bogart, married to a cute Gina Lollabrigida, falls in love with a faux English gentleman's wife as fast as his spouse goes for the supposed representative of the landed gentry. Of course cuddling and sweet words substitute for sex.

Robert Morley, always funny, is the putative leader of a gang that can't get their act together with Peter Lorre shedding his customary menacing stare for a busman's holiday as a gangster with a sense of humor.

The action ranges from beautiful Italy to a placid sea voyage aboard a rickety tub commanded by a rum-soaked moron whose Italian expletives are not understandable but who cares? The main characters, shipwrecked, wind up on an African shore where they're greeted by what today are embarrassingly stereotyped Arabs (I cringed at one of the European's comic invocation of Islam but then the movie has to be taken on its own terms and time, right?).

The resolution is lame - the characters all look ready to leave the set and get drunk before undertaking a new film. But this is one of the best spoofs of the noir genre and what makes it fly is the ensemble of first-rate actors in roles neatly the opposite of those they were usually seen performing.

Rent it! (Please)


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