BEAT THE DEVIL
B&W, 92 min.
Released: March 3, 1954 (United Artists)
Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Jennifer Jones (as Gwendolyn Chelm), Gina Lollobrigida, Robert Morley, Peter Lorre, Edward Underdown, Ivor Barnard, Marco Tulli.
Director: John Huston
Producer: Jack Clayton, Humphrey Bogart, John Huston
Tagline: "Adventure at its boldest! Bogart at his best!"
Complete Credits at IMDB
A fortune hunting couple (Humphrey Bogart and Gina Lollobrigida) join forces with a derelict group of four men (Robert Morley, Peter Lorre, Ivor Barnard, Marco Tulli) to find a uranium rich plot of land in Africa. While waiting for their ship to depart from Italy, they run into another scheming couple (Edward Underdown and Jennifer Jones). Soon all eight characters are drawn together in a race to see who can claim the fortune for themselves. Jennifer's second foray into comedy was a madcap production that bordered on chaos. Director John Huston took his cast and crew to Italy to begin filming but the script was not finished. Huston was displeased with the treatment written by the book's author (Claud Cockburn) so Truman Capote (on Selznick's recommendation) was brought in to rewrite the script. Capote wrote the script as the filming progressed with some dialog being completed minutes before the cameras rolled. The actors improvised many of the scenes. Most of the cast never knew what direction the film was taking much less what motivated their characters.
Over the past decades, however, Beat The Devil has gained a cult status. It was a film way ahead of the times and many audiences at the time of it's release simply did not know how to take it. Bogart fans were baffled by it because it was unlike his usual fare (he supposedly hated the film). It is a movie that is hilarious, especially after repeated viewings. Jennifer Jones was never funnier (actually she was never the given the chance to be) and many critics agreed that she was the most hilarious character in the film.
Beware of public domain prints of this film. The quality is very poor and almost unwatchable. However, A&E occasionally shows an excellent print of it.
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