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Beat the Devil


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Beat the Devil + We'Re No Angels (1955) + Desperate Hours, The
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Editorial Reviews

In this sly satire on British imperialist pretensions, Billy Dannreuther (Humphrey Bogart) receives a confidential tip regarding uranium mines in Kenya. He devises a scheme to buy up the land as cheaply as possible, but his corrupt plans are temporarily stalled by a transportation problem. While Dannreuther and his wife Maria (Gina Lollobrigida) wait in Italy for repairs to be made to the steamer headed for Africa, they are joined by other adventurers who also have their eyes on the valuable property: the young, upper-class englishman Harry Chelm (Edward Underdown), his neglected wife Gwendolen (Jennifer Jones), and a quartet of international crooks consisting of Peterson (Robert Morley), Julius O'Hara (Peter Lorre), Ravello (Marco Tulli), and Major Jack Ross (Ivor barnard). They're all terrified of being discovered, especially since one of them is a hired killer on the run!

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Product Details

  • Actors: Humphrey Bogart, Gina Lollobrigida, Peter Lorre
  • Directors: John Huston
  • Writers: John Huston, James Helvick, Truman Capote, Anthony Veiller, Peter Viertel
  • Producers: Humphrey Bogart, John Huston, Jack Clayton, Angelo Rizzoli, John Woolf
  • Format: NTSC
  • Region: All Regions
  • Studio: Osiris Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: March 29, 2011
  • Run Time: 89 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (164 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B004U7EIQ6
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #556,557 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

86 of 89 people found the following review helpful By Zino Davidoff on October 19, 2004
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Beat the Devil is a subtle comedy of manners. It's not a big Hollywood film, but a small independent (Bogart's own production company) that happens to have an amazing cast, is directed by one of the best (John Huston), with a Truman Capote screenplay. It's become one of my favorite off-beat films and can't recommend it enough.

What's not to like? Quite a bit if you read some of the disgruntled reviews below! But don't be dissuaded, it's a gem. And remember, Pauline Kael was a huge fan of this movie; if she's a reviewer you trust, that might be enough for you.

Other reviewers have outlined the plot so I won't go into that, and in any case, that's not the reason to watch this movie. The plot's certainly as good as any amusing Hitchcock film, with its MacGuffin and several surprising twists and comic suspense subplots unraveling throughout.

There are subtleties to Beat the Devil that apparently escape many reviewers, who perhaps wanted another formulaic 'noir' classic or some kind of slapstick laff-fest. If you like New Yorker cartoons, you'll likely enjoy this movie as much as I do: I've watched this movie at least 5 times and still love it.

Beat the Devil escapes categorization, except to say that it's a brilliant comic screenplay performed with skill and insight by several of the best actors of the 50s. Robert Morley is sublimely funny, and brings out the best in Peter Lorre and the other criminals in the gang.

Jennifer Jones is sexy and charming in her role as a compulsive liar, as is her classic and earnestly doltish husband. They reek naive British charm and are marvelous together, providing a poignant tension in contrast to the gang of conniving scoundrels.
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96 of 104 people found the following review helpful By dw_seattle on November 26, 2000
Format: DVD
Terrific movie. My opinion of the DVD itself is what you're interested in, though.
OK, apart from the Tony Curtis intro, this could have been a decent disc. The quality is about what you'd expect from a movie made ten years earlier, but that may be what we'll have to live with until Robert A. Harris decides to restore it.
Unfortunately, the logo that Laserlight chose to put in the lower right corner, much like television stations can't resist doing these days, really ruins it. Not only does one not expect to have to put up with distractions like this on a disc that one pays for, but it shows up EVERY TEN MINUTES during the movie. It just shows how little class Laserlight has. You may as well tape it when it shows up on AMC.
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56 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Wm W. Richardson on December 19, 2001
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This version (LaserLight) is awful. There is no effort to fix any of the scratches in the film, and a logo for "Delta" appears periodically in the lower right suggesting that this film was simply taped off the air and dumped on a DVD.
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Robert L. Bailey on November 5, 2009
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
ONE STAR is for the poor transfer. Take my word for it - buying this so called "remastered" classic film is a waste of money. I opted for this more expensive edition thinking I'd get a decent print. Instead, it was of such poor quality - constantly breaking up, and at time completely stopping, I gave up watching. An old copy I have from TV is far superior.
Amazon should be ashamed they listed this item for sale.
Go for the cheaper version - I doubt it could be worse.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 17, 2000
Format: DVD
I love this film so much. I bought one low-priced VHS copy on awhim and was pleasantly surprised to say the least. I thought the filmwas truly phenomenal! I then bought one of the DVD editions. 6 months later, I bought another. This low-priced DVD, as with all the other versions I own, is a travesty in terms of picture and sound quality (visible film print scratches, muddy blacks, gray whites, distant audio, audio pops, blurry images, overall lacking of detail throughout). I keep buying them hoping that someone will finally give this great film its proper due by finding a good negative and transferring it properly. No such luck as of yet (This might be due to the fact that the rights to this film may be shared by more than one distributor). Anyway, somewhere in existence there is a higher-priced VHS that looks much better than the "bargain" DVD's or VHS editions. I've seen it in a friend's personal video collection (...). This (...) film is a must-see. Why else would I keep buying it?
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Peter Kenney on May 23, 2003
Format: VHS Tape
BEAT THE DEVIL is a very funny movie which retains its subtle charm even after many viewings, It reminds me of the MALTESE FALCON not only because of the similarity of some of the characters but also because of the likeness of the screenplays. Both films essentially focus on a treasure hunt with an array of buffoons vying for the prize. Humphrey Bogart's characters seem to be about the only really normal people in either movie. While it is definitely considered to be a comedy, BEAT THE DEVIL is also not a bad adventure story. Most of the subdued action takes place on shore while the assorted crooks and cutthroats are waiting for a leaky old ship to take them to Africa.
The cast includes Humphrey Bogart, Robert Morley, Jennifer Jones, Gina Lollobrigida, Peter Lorre, Ivor Barnard and Edward Underwood.
John Huston was the director and Truman Capote contributed heavily to the screenwriting after the filming began in Italy.Truly a ton of Hollywood talent was assembled for this one movie in a relatively charming location.
It is no wonder that the movie is standing the test of time and is now enjoying a revival of sorts with even a minor cult following.
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