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Beat the Devil (1953) Poster

Trivia

This was the fifth and last movie that Humphrey Bogart would make with Peter Lorre. The other four were, The Maltese Falcon (1941), Casablanca (1942), All Through the Night (1942), and Passage to Marseille (1944).
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Humphrey Bogart was involved in a serious automobile accident during production of this film, which knocked out several of his teeth and hindered his ability to speak. John Huston reportedly hired a young British actor noted for his mimicry skills to rerecord some of Bogart's spoken lines during post-production looping. Although it is undetectable when viewing the film today, it is Peter Sellers who provides Bogart's voice during some of the scenes in this movie. However this cannot be confirmed.
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Stephen Sondheim got his start in films working as a clapper boy on this film.
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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.
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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".
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The failure of the original copyright holder to renew the film's copyright resulted in it falling into public domain, meaning that virtually anyone could duplicate and sell a VHS/DVD copy of the film. Therefore, many of the versions of this film available on the market are either severely (and usually badly) edited and/or of extremely poor quality, having been duped from second- or third-generation (or more) copies of the film.
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Jack Clayton, the Scotland Yard inspector played by Bernard Lee, is named after the film's associate producer, Jack Clayton, who later became a well-known director.
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John Huston was star/producer Humphrey Bogart's first choice to direct. However, Huston had some scheduling conflicts - he was due to make a movie with Katharine Hepburn (which was never made, as Hepburn graciously stepped aside to help out Huston), not to mention that he had to finish his then-current project Moulin Rouge (1952). Nicholas Ray, who Bogart had worked with twice before, was considered to direct in case Huston could not finish in time.
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John Huston suggested to Humphrey Bogart, that Lauren Bacall might play his wife. "I read your insidious and immoral proposals to my wife," Bogie wrote to Huston in mock anger. "I have instructed Miss Bacall to disregard your blandishments..." Anyway, she was busy shooting How to Marry a Millionaire (1953).
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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.
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The film is included on Roger Ebert's "Great Movies" list.
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Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
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Per Leonard Maltin, this is a parody of The Maltese Falcon (1941) type of films, which at the time eluded the era audiences, but is now a considered a cult favorite because of that.
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At one point in the film, Ivor Barnard's character is referred as the "galloping major". This is the title of a film from 1951, also made by Romulus Productions, and starring Basil Radford. The Galloping Major (1951) in this other film is a racehorse.
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Humphrey Bogart challenged Truman Capote to an arm wrestling bout and lost. When Bogart challenged him a second time, Capote insisted they wager $50, which the writer won by defeating the actor again. After a third match - and another victory for Capote - the evening degenerated to full body wrestling and Capote again reportedly was triumphant. "He put Bogie on his ass," John Huston later said. "He was a little bull."
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Humphrey Bogart said of Truman Capote, "He wrote like fury. He had the damnedest and most upside-down slant on humor you've ever heard."
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In a Cue article, Humphrey Bogart mentioned the difficulties of communicating with Italian-speaking actors and a predominantly Italian crew.
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John Huston couldn't stifle his laughter at the sight of the bloody-mouthed (but not seriously injured) Humphrey Bogart following his crash. He remembered Bogart muttering in response, "John...you dirty, no-good thun-of-a-bith!"
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Final film of Ivor Barnard. He died before it was released.
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This was the last film Humphrey Bogart made with John Huston.
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Humphrey Bogart reportedly disliked the film, perhaps because he lost a good deal of his own money bankrolling it.
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John Huston wrote in his autobiography that after he read the novel, he persuaded Humphrey Bogart to buy the film rights. The purchase was made through Bogart's Santana Pictures, Inc. Romulus Films, Ltd., the British company with which Huston had worked on The African Queen (1951) and Moulin Rouge (1952) then entered into a partnership with them. That group then created a co-production arrangement with Italian producers. Santana's financial obligation of $400,000 covered the salaries of Bogart, Jennifer Jones and Huston plus the cost of the screenplay to be written by Huston and Peter Viertel. Bogart reduced his normal salary of close to $200,000 to a lower amount.
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David O. Selznick, who was not involved with the production but who was married to Jennifer Jones, recommended that John Huston call in Truman Capote, who had worked on the script of Selznick and Jones's Indiscretion of an American Wife (1953).
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Truman Capote wrote the script while on the set, working two to three days ahead of the shooting schedule.
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Humphrey Bogart described Gina Lollobrigida as "the most woman I've seen for a long time-makes Marilyn Monroe look like Shirley Temple."
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Included among the American Film Institute's 2000 list of the 500 movies nominated for the Top 100 Funniest American Movies.
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