Beat the Devil

Released 1953




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Beat the Devil

Movie Summary

John Huston (I)
Not Available

Beat the Devil is a comic adventure yarn about a group of shady characters trying to arrange a lucrative (but more than slightly dishonest) uranium deal in East Africa. Reluctantly attached to the group is Billy Dannreuther (Humphrey Bogart), once a man of wealth but now forced by poverty (and his voluptuous Italian wife and her expensive tastes) to throw in his lot with a crook named Peterson (Robert Morley) and his motley crew of confederates. But the group has a problem - they are stuck in a small Italian sea-port, hindered by a malfunctioning boat, the Nyanga, and its permanently inebriated captain. And then there are the Chelms - a seemingly very proper English couple (played by Edward Underdown and Jennifer Jones). But the husband is perhaps not as grand as he seems, and the wife seems to be a pathological fantast, and if Billy weren't so bored by his circumstances and so worried by a murder that has just happened in London, he might have nothing to do with them...



Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (4)

    • Beat The Devil is based (closely) on the satirical novel by "James Helvick", a pseudonym for the famous radical journalist Claud Cockburn. Cockburn has related that, finding himself in dire need of money whilst living in Ireland, he wrote the novel quickly and then deliberately left a copy of it on a table in the drawing-room of the house of a friend, who had invited him for the weekend. Knowing that John Huston was another weekend guest, he brought other copies and left them in strategic places around the house, too, with the result that Huston began to read it. By the end of the weekend, Huston had arranged the purchase of the film rights.

    • Peter Ustinov dubbed the Italian actor playing the purser of the S.S.Nyanga. Peter Sellers is also believed to have done some dubbing work on the film.

    • The young Stephen Sondheim worked anonymously on the film for a few weeks as an assistant.

    • The name of the British police inspector who appears at the end of the film (played by Bernard Lee) is the same as that of the film's associate producer, Jack Clayton (who later became an eminent director).

  • QUOTES (6)

  • NOTES (0)


More Info About This Movie


Crime, Dark Comedy, Classics