Beat the Devil

USA/Great Britain/Italy 1954. Dir: John Huston. 93 min. DCP

NEW RESTORATION | COMPLETE, UNCUT, UNCENSORED VERSION | Absolutely the oddest of the celebrated John Huston-Humphrey Bogart collaborations, the Truman Capote-penned Beat the Devil is an absurdist send-up of the type of atmospheric thriller (The Maltese Falcon, Key Largo et al.) for which director and star were renowned. Bogart leads a cast of colourful rogue characters who set sail from Italy for British East Africa, hoping to make a major uranium score. Gina Lollobrigida, Jennifer Jones (blond!), Peter Lorre, and Robert Morley co-star. The film, shot on location in Italy, abounds in in-jokes, bizarre characterizations, and giddy plot twists. The satire was so straight-faced that audiences didn't get the joke; the studio re-cut the film in an attempt to salvage it. A cult classic even in its mangled version, Huston’s loose, loopy movie has now been restored to its original state! “It may be the funniest mess of all time” (Pauline Kael). “The birthplace of camp” (Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader).

REVIEWS

★★★★ "The movie has above all effortless charm ... Now that movies have become fearsome engines designed to hammer us with entertainment, it is nice to recall those that simply wanted to be witty company."

Roger Ebert | full review

"A delirious cult classic ... Beat the Devil remains to this day a highly entertaining film, dateless but for it being filmed in black and white."

The Guardian | full review