Starring: Humphrey Bogart, Jennifer Jones, Gina Lollobrigida, Peter Lorre
Director: John Huston
Penned by Truman Capote and directed by John Huston, Beat The Devil is a film that seems to set out to be a film noir-ish thriller, but playfully parodies the genre. Starring Humphrey Bogart, who was a staple of films like The Maltese Falcon and Casablanca, it takes the kinds of plots these films were famous for and loosens them up. Bogart was actually instrumental in getting the film made, which was the kind of film that at the time the studios wouldn’t touch with a barge pole.
Beat The Devil is the story of a group of desperate types in Italy who are plotting to get to Africa for a make it rich scheme, but on the way fall in with a British couple who complicate matters. There’s a plot involving uranium which may or may not exist, and Bogart being the love interest of two gorgeous women, as well.
It’s a film that has fun with itself, all the actors playing their parts seriously, but seeming to have a whale of a time doing it. The humour is quite subtle rather than broad, and it would be easy to miss the point that it’s meant to be all a bit of a joke. It feels fresh and playful, and brings together a number of great actors, from Bogart in the lead, to Peter Lorre and Robert Morley, and the two female leads, sizzling Lollobrigida and the delightful Jennifer Jones. All of whom seem to have a wonderful time giving dead pan lines that are quite funny in situations that are really over the top.
A wonderful and unexpected film that makes fun of Hollywood and the film noir genre at a time when the studio system did not know how to laugh at itself.
See It If: An unusual film, it’s one to watch if you love classic cinema, film noir and Humphrey Bogart.