At Maria Vargas' funeral, several people recall who she was and the impact she had on them. Harry Dawes was a not very successful writer/director when he and movie producer Kirk Edwards ... See full summary »
Joseph L. Mankiewicz
In 1930's Cuba, a bank clerk and an American mercenary assist a revolutionary group in a plan to kill the President but the Cuban Secret Police chief and the dictator's military complicate the plan's execution.
A quartet of international crooks (Peterson, O'Hara, Ross and Ravello) are stranded in Italy whilst their steamer is being repaired. With them are the an English couple, the Dannreuthers. The 6 are headed for Africa, presumably to sell vacuum cleaners but all is not as it seems. They are joined by others who apparently have similar designs.Written by
Ed Stephan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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 »
Either the writer or the director was playing an inside joke by naming two of the characters 'Chelm'. Chelm, in Yiddish folklore, refers to a village in eastern Europe that is ruled by the "wise fools". See more »
The luggage rack on the back of the car that goes over the cliff is not the same as before it goes off the road. See more »
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.
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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 »
The above is a line from "Black Widow" that I've always liked. I guess it was called to mind because "Beat the Devil" is a black comedy. Well, it's an odd comedy anyway.
The 1953 film had absolutely everything going for it, including Humphrey Bogart, Jennifer Jones, Gina Lollabrigida, Peter Lorre, Robert Morley, directed by John Huston with a screenplay by Truman Capote. What more could you ask for? I don't know, but something.
The story concerns crooks stuck in Italy while they wait for a steamer to be repaired that is to take them to Africa. There, they will buy land that has uranium on it, though no one knows that. They're allegedly selling vacuum cleaners. Also traveling on this steamer are a British woman (Jones) and her husband. He supposedly is landed gentry in England, but is he? The crooks wonder what he's up to, and the wife keeps changing her story.
There is a lot of humor to be had in this film - the situation is funny, the denouement is wonderful, there is some witty dialogue and there are clever situations that go on during the film that are amusing. The problem is that nobody cares.
The film, which looks like it cost about a dollar to make, is too disjointed, and there are long sections where nothing interesting happens.
One of the posters, who really liked the film, commented that people don't like it because the actors aren't going for laughs. Well, I'm not one of those people. Acting 101 says you don't go for laughs - you play the situation and the characters for real and the laughs happen. That doesn't mean, however, that you pace it like it's Long Days Journey. Bogart had wonderful timing no matter what, and it's evident here, particularly in the car scene on the way to the restaurant, where the character's glibness is apparent. The problem isn't in any person, it's in the direction. I don't believe Huston had a sense of comedy. He could be brilliant, but this was not his thing.
Still, "Beat the Devil" is worth seeing, but it's hard to keep your attention on it.
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