6.6/10
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122 user 48 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) 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 <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Adventure at its boldest! Bogart at his best! 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

The film is included on Roger Ebert's "Great Movies" list. 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

Petersen: You mean Mrs. Chelm is an unqualified liar?
Billy Dannreuther: Well, let's say she uses her imagination rather than her memory.
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 O Cinema Falado (1986) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Amazing how clueless some people are
2 April 2002 | by clydefroggSee 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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