Sign in to follow this  
precoder

Beat the Devil (1953)

3 posts in this topic

"Beat the Devil" (Santana-Romulus/United Artists 1953) directed by John Huston ...

A really odd adventure film with a screenplay written on the fly by Truman Capote, and shot in Italy scene by scene as the script came in. The result is a quirky satire about four sadly incompetent bad-guys (Robert Morley, Peter Lorre, Ivor Barnard and Marco Tulli) trying to secure land in Africa said to be rich in uranium. The four seem to have ties to high-seated former nazis. Billy Dannreuther (Bogart) seeing the potential financial gain, is hired by the four to make the 'semi-illegal' land purchase. Billy's trophy-wife Maria (Gina Lollobrigida) tags along because she looks so damn good. She's an exotic mediterranean woman, less than half his age, with the smoothest, clearest complexion a female person could possibly possess with nary a blemish to be seen anywhere upon her glowingly opulent

outermost membrane. **Okay I might have over-written that** She hasn't much to do but steals her scenes doing it. Another couple, English of course, Harry and Gwen Chelm (Edward Underdown and Jennifer Jones) will be boarding the same boat bound for Africa, seemingly as innocent tourists. The ships captain (Saro Urzi) is an habitual drunk and the purser (Mario Perrone) sees all but only tells half-truths. International conspiracy on the high seas perhaps? You're thinking espionage? Deception and treason?

 

HA ... It isn't long, and the viewer begins entertaining suspicions that the entire affair is one big joke ... On you ...

 

The plot is written in such a way as to be intentionally unintelligible, offbeat, complicated nonsense. It's completely unpredictable this way, and some actors are clearly let in on the joke, whereas others are not. Bogart said this movie was a mess, but looks like he's having fun, just coasting along the wave of sillyness happening around him. Jennifer Jones was the biggest surprise, playing Gwendolyn straight off the cuff, juxtaposing into her bit, an impossible blend of compulsive liar, thrill-seeker and dreamer with an imagination that preceeds her, and a blonde haircut which for once in her career, allows her to be someone other than Selznick's paper-doll. I was knocked backwards by some of the crumpled quips that sprang forth from Jennifer Jones (not to mention her exercise routine on the beach) ...

 

Robert Morley is brilliantly perplexed, playing the protagonistic ring-leader in a manner of complete dumbfounded wit. And the bit from the Arab interrogator (Manuel Serano) about Rita Hayworth was a choice slice of humor coming out of nowhere ...

 

I wanted to be entertained and at least I got that. This is a fun movie, stupid and weird but nevertheless, fun to watch ... Because this is a movie that just doesn't give a damn what you think ...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The whole thing is a HOOT from start to finish. Its a laff-riot. Controversial flick; much debated--but I love it and so do plenty others. Three cheers to Capote for ripping this one out. Hard to believe.

But if you've ever traveled in Europe you'll find things are still exactly this way. The quirks of all the locals like the taxi driver; everyone trying to gyp you out of tips and fees and extra charges and gratuities.

Funniest scene: the rage of the Italian ship captain at this batch of wacky English that plague his ship!

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
20 hours ago, Sgt_Markoff said:

The whole thing is a HOOT from start to finish. Its a laff-riot. Controversial flick; much debated--but I love it and so do plenty others. Three cheers to Capote for ripping this one out. Hard to believe.

But if you've ever traveled in Europe you'll find things are still exactly this way. The quirks of all the locals like the taxi driver; everyone trying to gyp you out of tips and fees and extra charges and gratuities.

Funniest scene: the rage of the Italian ship captain at this batch of wacky English that plague his ship!

My wife is from southern Italy and I go there every other year or so (she goes every year),  and we love Beat the Devil.    The Italian ship captain's rage is a hoot but the Italian purser stands out as that odd \ interesting character on the boat (thanks to dialog provided by Capote).

We went to Ravello, above Italy's Amalfi Coast on our honeymoon.    Now I had seen the film a few times but at the time I didn't know it was filmed in Ravello.    Well while we were walking around I had a feel I had been there before.   I even pointed out some thing and my wife was saying 'wow,  how did you know that was going to be there???'.      It wasn't until we went out on the terrace and I saw those little statutes and the view of the coastline that I realized I had walked into the same spot where Bogie makes his first pass at Jennifer Jones.

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

New Members:

Register Here

Learn more about the new message boards:

FAQ

Having problems?

Contact Us