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Beat the Devil (1953)

Approved  |   |  Action, Adventure, Comedy  |  17 December 1953 (Italy)
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Ratings: 6.7/10 from 5,843 users  
Reviews: 112 user | 29 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...



(novel) (as James Helvick) , (screenplay), 3 more credits »
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Complete credited cast:
Edward Underdown ...
Ivor Barnard ...
Marco Tulli ...
Insp. Jack Clayton
Mario Perrone ...
Purser on SS Nyanga
Giulio Donnini ...
Captain of SS Nyanga (as Saro Urzi)
Juan de Landa ...
Hispano-Suiza Driver
Aldo Silvani ...
Charles - Restaurant Manager


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 <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Bogart meets his match in the bold adventure that beats them all! See more »


Approved | See all certifications »



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Release Date:

17 December 1953 (Italy)  »

Also Known As:

La burla del diablo  »

Box Office


$1,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Claud Cockburn (aka Claud Cockburn) wrote the screenplay based on his novel. Truman Capote was purportedly brought to complete the script late in the piece when Cockburn left or was fired. See more »


When the boat arrives at shore and the group come out of the sea, Billy walks after Peterson and stops just behind him. In the next shot, shown from the front, Billy appears on the left side of Peterson. See more »


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 »


Referenced in Cinema Falado (1986) See more »

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User Reviews

Brilliant Dry Humor
12 July 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Most of the reviews of 1953's "Beat the Devil" regard it as a Humphrey Bogart picture. Certainly his company produced it, but it is truly a John Huston film. Huston's legendary dry wit suffuses the whole enterprise from start to finish. Essentially, a comedy of errors, Huston's script, co-authored by Truman Capote, also serves up wry social commentary on a range of subjects from social position to the industrial world's exploitation of Africa, a place near and dear to Huston's heart. Jennifer Jones' prophecy that Africa will become an ugly place with "all those holes," has long since become a reality. A brilliant cast, with Bogie playing his typical world-weary existentialist, spiral avarice and misconception into hilarity; a comic exposition of the proverb, "What a tangled web we weave . . ." Often criticized for being unrealistic, Huston's and Capote's comic script has none-to-funny real parallels in the present day debacles of Enron and WorldCom. In "Beat the Devil," greed and deceit are brilliantly juxtaposed to reveal the ultimate folly of even the most devious criminal enterprise. This is a superior black comedy that plays even better today than it did 52 years ago.

50 of 61 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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