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Beat the Devil (1953)

Not Rated  |   |  Action, Adventure, Comedy  |  17 December 1953 (Italy)
6.7
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Ratings: 6.7/10 from 5,666 users  
Reviews: 111 user | 28 critic

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...

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(novel) (as James Helvick) , (screenplay), 3 more credits »
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Title: Beat the Devil (1953)

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
...
...
...
Edward Underdown ...
Ivor Barnard ...
Marco Tulli ...
...
Insp. Jack Clayton
Mario Perrone ...
Purser on SS Nyanga
Giulio Donnini ...
Administrator
...
Captain of SS Nyanga (as Saro Urzi)
Juan de Landa ...
Hispano-Suiza Driver
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:

Adventure at its boldest! Bogart at his best! See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

| |

Language:

|

Release Date:

17 December 1953 (Italy)  »

Also Known As:

La burla del diablo  »

Box Office

Budget:

$1,000,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

William Styron's second novel, "Set This House on Fire", describes a film crew on location - obviously based on director John Huston and gang during the shooting of this film. The town in the novel is Ravello on Italy's Amalfi Drive, where most of the film was shot. 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

O'Hara: Time. Time. What is time? Swiss manufacture it. French hoard it. Italians squander it. Americans say it is money. Hindus say it does not exist. Do you know what I say? I say time is a crook.
See more »

Connections

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

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User Reviews

 
Amazing how clueless some people are
2 April 2002 | by (Fishers, IN) – See all my reviews

If you're a classic film fan, you're going to come across this film sooner or later. And chances are, being a fan of how movies were made back in the day, you'll understand what these creative folks were going for.

It's a satire/spoof! It's not a blatant attack on movies of similar genres (a la Naked Gun), but a subtle one because THEY PLAY IT STRAIGHT. And therein lies the genius of this film. It's a satire that's played straight. Even though the actors, bless their hearts, seem like they're sometimes about to bust a seam speaking the lines, they are intentionally trying to be serious. Every cast member, especially Edward Underdown and Robert Morley (as Chelm and Peterson), understood and delivered their lines to perfection. "The men of this world most in need of a beating up are all so incredibly large..." Or something like that. Hell, Bogart just sat back and let the humor flow all around him. And good old Jennifer Jones. The old Selznick factory product finally gives a performance that's not artificial. What's amazing is that renowned Italian actress Gina Lollobridgia took part in this production. My theory is, she didn't know what the hell was going on. They gave her the script, told her to play it seriously, and didn't clue her in on the joke. There had not been a film made like this before, and there hasn't been one made since.

Perhaps this film has served a lesson to studios over the years. Sometimes, I think some of todays satire/spoofs do venture close to Beat the Devil ground (Zoolander), but none of them ever reach it for fear of the audience not getting it, as I understand most of Beat the Devils audience of 1954 did not get it. Imagine Mike Myers playing Austin Powers straight, and not trying to be funny in all the situations he's in. To me, that would be immensely more funny.


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