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Humphrey Bogart stars as one of five disreputable adventurers who are trying to get uranium out of East Africa. Bogart's associates include pompous fraud Robert Morley, and Peter Lorre as the German-accented "O'Hara", whose wartime record is forever a source of speculation and suspicion. Becoming involved in Bogart's machinations are a prim British married couple (Edward Underdown and blonde-wigged Jennifer Jones). As a climax to their many misadventures and double-crosses, the uranium seekers end up facing extermination by an Arab firing squad. The satirical nature of Beat the Devil eluded many moviegoers in 1953, and the film was a failure. The fact that the picture attained cult status in lesser years failed to impress its star Humphrey Bogart, who could only remember that he lost a considerable chunk of his own money when he became involved in the project. Peter Viernick worked on the script on an uncredited basis. Beat the Devil eventually fell into public domain, leading to numerous inferior editions by second and third-tiered labels. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
Beat the Devil is too comedy to be an adventure movie and too much of an adventure movie to be a comedy. You'd think getting John Huston & Humphrey Bogart (and Peter Lorre, too!) together again would be a great thing but the more I see of Bogart's filmography from the 50s, the more I realize that it just wasn't his decade. Beat the Devil is just a collection of unrealized possibilities. A great con picture that never happened, a great heist picture that could've been and what in the hell could possibly possess a man to choose Jennifer Jones over Gina Lollobrigida? Beyond that you're just in for some nice scenery (Lollobrigida included) and a mess hiding behind the guise of amusement at the end.
An oddball collection of individuals from varying backgrounds and parts of the globe board a ship bound for Africa to seek their fortunes. Obviously an homage to Huston's classic debut The Maltese Falcon, Beat The Devil is a curious mix of comedy and intrigue that doesn't really work as either. The collection of racial stereotypes on display farcically bumping into each other, engaging in affairs and hushed conversations made it feel like an Agatha Christie murder mystery; but with out the murder. Or the mystery. Bogie coasts through the film with a look of mild amusement exercising his usual dry wit and Robert Morley seems to be doing a kind of stuffy Sidney Greenstreet impersonation, but all the characters are really rather annoying and it's kind of difficult to care what happens to any of them. The ladies were easy on the eye and Bogart is always worth watching but during the whole thing I just wished I was watching Across the Pacific instead.
with more fast shuffling than any fred and ginger effort, and much like "the usual suspects" wherein all are guilty until...well, forget about 'em not being guilty is all, and with a wink and a smile tossed in for spice, this is a bankers holiday for all involved and it shows. jennifer jones nearly steals the show and would if there wasn't such stiff competition. not an honest scene in this stew of lovable rogues out for a con.
One of those on-the-fence movies that doesn't make any egregious mistakes, yet doesn't offer enough for a recommendation either. Bogart is only OK in this mild Maltese Falconesque spoof, added inside jokery comes with the inclusion of Peter Lorre but he sadly has little to do. Robert Morley comes off best in the Sydney Greenstreet role as the shady financier. I didn't care at all for Jennifer Jones who runs about her emotions like a headless chicken, but one word will suffice for Gina Lollobrigida - wow. A promising idea, made moreso with a script by director John Huston and Truman Capote(!), failing to deliver satisfactorily.