IMDb > Beat the Devil (1953)
Beat the Devil
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Beat the Devil (1953) More at IMDbPro »

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Popularity: ?
Down 13% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Claud Cockburn (based on the novel "Beat the Devil" by)
Truman Capote (screenplay) ...
View company contact information for Beat the Devil on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
17 December 1953 (Italy) See more »
The film that was ten years ahead of its time is ten years old...(it's time!) (1962 reissue ad). See more »
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... Full summary » | Add synopsis »
1 win See more »
(53 articles)
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User Reviews:
Film-noir twisted into a unique and witty comedy See more (117 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Humphrey Bogart ... Billy Dannreuther

Jennifer Jones ... Mrs. Gwendolen Chelm

Gina Lollobrigida ... Maria Dannreuther

Robert Morley ... Peterson

Peter Lorre ... Julius O'Hara
Edward Underdown ... Harry Chelm
Ivor Barnard ... Maj. Jack Ross
Marco Tulli ... Ravello

Bernard Lee ... Insp. Jack Clayton
Mario Perrone ... Purser on SS Nyanga
Giulio Donnini ... Administrator

Saro Urzì ... Captain of SS Nyanga (as Saro Urzi)

Juan de Landa ... Hispano-Suiza Driver (as Juan De Landa)
Aldo Silvani ... Charles - Restaurant Manager
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Dave Crowley ... (uncredited)
Julie Gibson ... (uncredited)
Alex Pochet ... Hotel Manager (uncredited)
Mimmo Poli ... Barman (uncredited)

Peter Sellers ... Billy Dannreuther (voice) (uncredited)
Manuel Serano ... Ahmed - Arab Inquisitor (uncredited)

Directed by
John Huston 
Writing credits
Claud Cockburn (based on the novel "Beat the Devil" by) (as James Helvick)

Truman Capote (screenplay) and
John Huston (screenplay)

Anthony Veiller  screenplay collaboration (uncredited)
Peter Viertel  screenplay collaboration (uncredited)

Produced by
Jack Clayton .... associate producer
John Huston .... producer
Humphrey Bogart .... producer (uncredited)
Angelo Rizzoli .... producer (uncredited)
John Woolf .... producer (uncredited)
Original Music by
Franco Mannino 
Cinematography by
Oswald Morris (director of photography)
Film Editing by
Ralph Kemplen 
Art Direction by
Wilfred Shingleton 
Makeup Department
Betty Lee .... hairdresser (as Bette Lee)
Connie Reeve .... makeup artist (as Constance Reeve)
Production Management
Bill Kirby .... production manager
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
John Arnold .... assistant director
Erica Masters .... third assistant director (uncredited)
Robert Sterne .... second assistant director (uncredited)
Art Department
John Hoesli .... assistant art director (uncredited)
Harry White .... draughtsman (uncredited)
Alan Withy .... draughtsman (uncredited)
Sound Department
Stan Hawkes .... dubbing editor (as Stanley Hawkes)
E. Law .... sound recordist
George Stephenson .... sound recordist
Barbara Hopkins .... dubbing crew (uncredited)
Bob Jones .... dubbing crew (uncredited)
Kevin McClory .... boom operator (uncredited)
Peter Myers .... assistant boom operator (uncredited)
Ernest Webb .... sound camera operator (uncredited)
Ivor Worsley .... dubbing crew (uncredited)
Special Effects by
Reg Johnson .... travelling mattes (uncredited)
Visual Effects by
Bryan Langley .... special processes (uncredited)
Camera and Electrical Department
Freddie Francis .... camera operator
Louis H. Lavelly .... chief production electrician
Robert Capa .... still photographer (uncredited)
James Devis .... clapper loader (uncredited)
Eric Gray .... still photographer (uncredited)
Dennis C. Lewiston .... clapper loader (uncredited)
Stephen Sondheim .... clapper boy (uncredited)
Gerry Turpin .... first assistant camera (uncredited)
Editorial Department
Philip Auguste .... second assistant editor (uncredited)
Roy Hyde .... first assistant editor (uncredited)
Location Management
James H. Ware .... location manager (as James Ware)
Music Department
Lambert Williamson .... musical director
Other crew
Angela Allen .... continuity
Jeanie Sims .... personal assistant to John Huston
Beryl Booth .... production secretary (uncredited)
Harriet Medin .... dialogue coach (uncredited)
Crew verified as complete

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
89 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (Western Electric Recording)
Argentina:Atp | Australia:PG | Australia:G (TV rating) | Canada:PG (Ontario) | Finland:S | Spain:T | Sweden:15 | Switzerland:14 | UK:A (original rating) | UK:PG (tv rating) | UK:U (video rating) (1986) (1998) (1999) (2001) (2003) (2005) | USA:Approved (Certificate No. 16817) | West Germany:6

Did You Know?

Humphrey Bogart reportedly disliked the film, perhaps because he lost a good deal of his own money bankrolling it.See more »
Continuity: 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 »
Ahmed:[to Dannreuther] I believe you must have Arab blood. Westerners are not usually so subtle.See more »
Movie Connections:
Referenced in The Same River Twice (2003)See more »


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12 out of 16 people found the following review useful.
Film-noir twisted into a unique and witty comedy, 20 November 2001
Author: bobc-5 from Silver Spring, MD

I'm surprised at the lack of positive reviews written here for this witty film-noir spoof. The movie is certainly conceived in standard noir fashion, based on a story about colonial exploitation which is ripe with opportunity for double-dealing and triple-crossing, and populated with a cast of stereotypical film-noir characters. But then something strange happens. It's as if the characters are given self-awareness. Because these would all be boring and mundane people in real life, they live out their fantasies by embracing the limited nature of their scripted alter-egos and playing them to the extreme. This is how superficial, cardboard-thin film-noir characters might behave if forced to live in the real world without a script to guide them.

The story is about several travelers who meet in port while waiting for a ship to take them to Africa. Three unlikely criminals - "the committee" - are on their way to pull off a uranium swindle. Their hired agent, Dannreuther, is the reluctant but ever capable leading man, married to a beautiful young Italian who dreams of being English. Harry Chelm is English to the point of absurdity. He is every bit the exaggerated epitome of a British aristocrat, except that he lacks the wealth and title to actually be one. His wife, a charming mythomaniac, manages to convince everyone else otherwise.

Complications arise when this group is confined to a small port and then to an even smaller ship. The three criminals scurry about like a pack of mismatched meerkats. Robert Morley is absolutely hilarious as the criminal mastermind cursed with a face and body completely incapable of hiding even the smallest emotion. Peter Lorre has some wonderful scenes playing an unflappable, philosophical German named O'Hara. Jennifer Jones, Gina Lollobrigida, and Edward Underdown deliver outstanding comedic performances while Bogart effortlessly cycles through every leading character he's ever portrayed.

I don't think it will spoil the film to point out that the uranium deal is nothing but a MacGuffin. The real value of this movie is the understated comic situations and mannerisms which arise when the characters are allowed to break free from the restraints of standard film-noir style. They do so in a totally natural manner using their own self-awareness but still restricted by the limited personalities and abilities of the stereotypes they represent. The results are unique, unpredictable, and completely charming.

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