Beat the Devil - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Beat the Devil Reviews

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½ September 25, 2016
This was one of Bogart's last film, and it reunited him with director John Huston, and it was also the 5th and final time he worked with friend Peter Lorre. Trumon Capote contributed to the script as well. The story is ok, and the film is amusing. Not a great film, but an easy watch for Bogart fans.
March 15, 2016
Eccentric crime caper that teeters on the brink of catastrophe, but is redeemed by a witty script (by Truman Capote), stylish direction (John Huston), and stellar cast (Humphrey Bogart, Jennifer Jones, Robert Morley, Peter Lorre and Gina Lollobrigida.) An intriguing oddity in the history of maverick cinema.
August 4, 2015
Wonderful movie, the dialogue is a gem, enjoy it as absurd as it may seem on the surface!
½ May 14, 2015
It's important to view "Beat the Devil" as less of a movie and more of an experiment, an experiment that allows a group of screen legends and character actors alike to roam around in a torrent of likably bizarre material. A hell of a way to open a review, I know - but the unfiltered strangeness of "Beat the Devil" is part of its charm. It doesn't know where it's going, doesn't have a plan in mind, and doesn't really know what to do with its locales. But it acts like it does, through silky and astute Truman Capote dialogue and performances that liven the atmosphere with a scent of self-deprecation.
Legend has it that director John Huston originally had planned to make "Beat the Devil" the way one would normally make a serious thriller - but once he flew into Italy with the cast, he decided to tear up the script and make up the film as he went along, with the aid of a young Capote (who wrote new scenes on a daily basis). It, more or less, became a black comedy. As one watches the film, this factoid doesn't come as a fun little surprise - the movie really does feel spontaneous, with the plot rambling along while the characters busy themselves with decadently bourgeois lines and sideline romantic affairs that feel like more of a distraction than a necessity.
I can't say that I enjoyed it, but I'm not sure I can forget it. The way the dialogue slithers along with slinky comic energy, how the actors are simultaneously campy and masterful - it's all very unusual to find in a movie made in 1953. Strangeness like this didn't come around until Robert Altman parked his car in Hollywood and told off everyone's prior notions of what makes a masterpiece.
"Beat the Devil" begins by introducing itself to a pack of characters that seem straight out of an absurd melodrama. There are Billy (Humphrey Bogart) and Maria Dannreuther (Gina Lollobrigida), a former rich couple reduced to retreating in a cheap hotel, paid for by the constantly cackling Peterson (Robert Morley). But then there's Peterson, a crook with a bulging stomach that cohorts with the sinister Julius O'Hara (Peter Lorre), the sneaky Major Jack Ross (Ivan Barnard), and the imposing Ravello (Marco Tulli). And there are Harry (Edward Underdown) and Gwendolyn Chelm (Jennifer Jones), who fancy themselves to be a part of upper class British society.
This rat pack, eventually becoming acquainted with each other in the ways only movies can acquaint characters, decides to band together to cook up a scheme to gain control of a uranium-packed zone in Africa. It doesn't go successfully (these characters are fools, not clever grifters), but "Beat the Devil" isn't concerned with suspense or anything even pertaining to the thriller genre.
Instead, it plays around with the characters. By 1953, the majority of the players were familiar to audiences; they put Bogart under the tough-guy category, decided Lollobrigida was the more vulgar Sophia Loren, likened Jones to be a girl-next-door goody-two-shoes, and placed Morley and Lorre in the section of their mind kept for cinematic weirdos. "Beat the Devil" feels like one big satire - yet, none of the actors seem to know it. It doesn't seem like Huston knows it either. But the film is all the better for it. It's an accidental success.
The film is not really a comedy or an adventure; it's a roguish display of parodical behavior. Even Bogart, who hated the film, manages to serve a masterfully smooth characterization. Lollobrigida, stereotyped to perfection, plays a caricatured version of her sexy self, while Jones connives her way through a great performance that requires her to go against type and pretend to be a minx who happens to mostly say the wrong things at the wrong times. But it's the constant union of the four main (and eccentric) villains that sticks in the mind, with their physically cartoonish and opposing figures.
With its grainy camerawork (which I'm not sure is a not-enough-budgeted touch or a historical mess-up) and shoestring feel, "Beat the Devil" doesn't feel like a movie movie; it's like rehearsal for a bigger project. But age has been kind to it. Considering its shake-ups and uninhibited oddballisms, it exists in a bizarro version of the Hollywood Golden Age.
½ March 10, 2015
Bogie and some dimwit gangsters try to get to Africa for uranium smuggling in this comedic adventure which is neither funny nor exciting.
January 21, 2015
Strange film. The obvious talent behind the film keeps it going but much of it is disjointed and pointless.
½ July 26, 2014
A rare comedy from John Huston but also one that continually misfires and never raises a laugh. The director reunites with several other top class actors after creating some very memorable and successful movies together, but the players don't look too convinced about or convincing in their roles, especially Bogey.
May 6, 2014
No clue what's going on in this movie but Bogey and Lorre are pretty great
½ March 15, 2014
With the cast it has, including Humphrey Bogart, Peter Lorre, Gina Lollabridgida and directed by John Huston this movie should be better. But the comedy element falls flat in this films attempt to be an adventure film.
March 14, 2014
another of my lost reviews
November 22, 2013
Time is a crook.

A group of refugees on their way to Africa run into a strange couple traveling in the same direction. The couple plan to invest in minerals and get rich. That doesn't sound bad to the refugees. Maybe they will tag along with ambitions to initially help, but what true intentions do they have for the couple's fortunes?

"I have a feeling about you and your friends."
"Correction. Associates."

John Huston, director of The African Queen, The Maltese Falcon, The Man Who Would be King, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Captain Blood, Prizzi's Honor, Key Largo, and The Asphalt Jungle, delivers Beat the Devil. The storyline for this picture is just okay and a bit disappointing (and stale). I was hoping for more from this Bogart/Huston picture. The acting is fairly good and the cast includes Humphrey Bogart, Jennifer Jones, Peter Lorre, Bernard Lee, Robert Morley, and Gina Lollobrigida.

"You are the hired hand."

Beat the Devil was playing on Turner Classic Movies (TCM) this Halloween season and I was excited to see this Bogart/Huston collaboration. Unfortunately, this may be one of the worst movies I have seen from either of these gentlemen. I never felt connected with the storyline or particularly connected to the plot. Overall, I'd say this is average and I would skip it.

"I think I hate you."

Grade: C+
November 5, 2013
Curious affair that doesn't really ever take off and feels more like an incomplete play. Eight characters dance around in a sort predatory tango because there is a vague plot to extract uranium from an anonymous African country and for some reason they are all gathered in Italy waiting for a boat there. Women mysteriously throw themselves at Bogey once more, and everybody's motives for all actions are murky and not quite worked out. One of Huston's lesser efforts.
September 7, 2013
It appears audiences are still misunderstanding the film. That's a bit ironic since it's a comedy of errors where all the characters are either misunderstood or lying about who they are. The insane plot twists are based as much on the insanity of the characters and dialogue. There is lot of dialogue and not one misplaced word. The fact that film sails by even with all the verbiage is tribute first to Capote and Huston, but the actors, especially Bogart and Jones are dazzling. There may have been too many layers of irony and sarcasm coming to thick for most of the early audiences. But this is a masterful work.
½ April 28, 2013
A stellar cast and crew gather to make a great independent Hollywood movie.

A non-consequential story involving uranium and land rights in central Africa is quickly forgotten and the plot itself ends up being a plot device.

What is great about this film is the cutting, witty script penned by Truman Capote and John Huston (who also directed.) Often tongue in cheek, you can see the cast are having a blast with it. This is a fun frolic and never takes itself too seriously.
April 19, 2013
Humphrey Bogart heads a superior cast in this tale of a gang of swindlers who seek to covertly purchase African lands rich in uranium--but not without a few Hiccups. The rustic Italy background played into the out of comfort touch from what were are accustomed to by Bogart.

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. And appreciate its subtle slapstick humor.
March 16, 2013
Smart, fun, surprising and fresh comic-thriller adventure.
½ February 20, 2013
One of those films that you quickly see is not that classic you'd think it'd be, a real let down this was.

Bogart was great but the story wasn't it just seemingly went nowhere, and written by Truman Capote you'd expect a bit more.

Basically the story of an English Couple unintentionally spoiling some other mens plans to mine Ukraine from Africa. But the story never really got going & a lot was discussed but didn't happen.
January 11, 2013
The choice of Huston and Bogart to practically make fun of their past collaborations may see a little self-deprecating and hazardous, but this may be one of the first spoof films to date.
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