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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beat him up
You'd think that "Beat the Devil" would be far better known than it is, since it was one of the last movies that Humphrey Bogart did before his untimely death. Maybe that's because Bacall wasn't in it, or maybe it was just too quirky for the masses -- a funny, wry noir-satire, with a gang of rather inept criminals.

Billy Dannreuther (Bogart) is part of a motley...
Published on 31 Aug 2006 by E. A Solinas

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Poor Quality Reproduction
I avoided buying one of the other two versions of this film, by Elstree Hill Studios, because I had heard that the picture quality was of an unacceptable standard. The picture quality on this version, by Brightspark, is also of an inferior standard and I would suggest that customers should avoid it at all costs.
There is another version, by Wienerworld Ltd., and I...
Published on 17 Jan 2011 by R J Hemingway


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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Poor Quality Reproduction, 17 Jan 2011
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This review is from: Beat The Devil [DVD] [1953] (DVD)
I avoided buying one of the other two versions of this film, by Elstree Hill Studios, because I had heard that the picture quality was of an unacceptable standard. The picture quality on this version, by Brightspark, is also of an inferior standard and I would suggest that customers should avoid it at all costs.
There is another version, by Wienerworld Ltd., and I would appreciate any reviews.
The still on the cover of the Brightspark production suggests a fine print but this, as I have said, is far from the case.Beat The Devil [DVD] [1953]
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars As good as a TV broadcast, 5 May 2011
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This review is from: Beat the Devil [DVD] (DVD)
As noted before this Delta / LaserLight release's picture quality is good. I knocked off some points because they put on a Delta ident in a few spots in the film. It comes on in the corner in a few points in the film for around 30 sec each time but is only as obtrusive as a TV station ident on the digital channels.

The picture is rock solid, sharp and seems to be from a good print. Audio is clear. It claims to be digitally mastered on the label.

Extras: a short intro by Tony Curtis and a theatrical trailer for The Big Sleep and documentary Humphrey Bogart on Film.

Above all do not buy the Elstree Hill Beat The Devil [1953] [DVD] version, that has the worst possible picture quality imaginable. In fact I haven't seen a decent Elstree Hill release yet, I think they source from cd-rom or poor divx.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Beat the Devil, 8 Jun 2010
By 
Christopher Coxhead (wolverhampton UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Beat The Devil [1953] [DVD] (DVD)
A good film spoilt by poor reproduction, the b&w film was grainey and poorly focused
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beat him up, 31 Aug 2006
By 
E. A Solinas "ea_solinas" (MD USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Beat The Devil [1953] [DVD] (DVD)
You'd think that "Beat the Devil" would be far better known than it is, since it was one of the last movies that Humphrey Bogart did before his untimely death. Maybe that's because Bacall wasn't in it, or maybe it was just too quirky for the masses -- a funny, wry noir-satire, with a gang of rather inept criminals.

Billy Dannreuther (Bogart) is part of a motley group planning to go to Africa, where a friend can help them illegally claim uranium. But trouble arrives: stuffy Harry Chelm (Edward Underdown) and his very imaginative wife Gwen (Jennifer Jones) arrive, and soon they're flirting with Billy and his sensual wife Maria (Gina Lollabrigida).

Even worse, Gwen's "exaggeration" habit is making the gang distrust Billy, thinking that he's withholding information from them. He isn't, of course. But all the personal plots and distrust come to a boil when everyone boards the ship, and Harry reveals that he knows everything about their uranium plot. Now Billy has to save himself and his friends, without Harry being bumped off...

"Beat the Devil" is an all-around satire -- it mocks grabby criminals, pathological liars, stodgy Brits, romance movies, crime capers, and even second-rate boats ("Of course, the captain is drunk!"). In fact, there's very little about this movie that doesn't poke fun at itself, or at the movies of the time.

And since it was adapted by John Huston and Truman Capote, you know that it's being witty as it makes fun. It languidly builds up in a sunny, ruined city where people plot and flirt, and then starts to boil when they get on board the boat. But even engine failures manage to be entertaining when Harry wrecks the oil pump while trying to fix it.

The cast is skilled in that under-the-radar way: Bogart plays a slightly more offbeat version of his noir characters, and Jennifer Jones is hilarious as the ditzy, chattery English girl. Peter Lorre and Robert Morley are also quite good as Bogie's pals, and Underdown plays the insensitive, straight-arrow dunce perfectly. You'll constantly want to smack him.

Though not as respected as it deserves, "Beat the Devil" is a little gem of a Bogart movie, with a witty, satirical script and lots of wild twists. Definitely a keeper.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Once Very Popular, Many Inferior Copies Out There, 27 Nov 2012
By 
Stephanie De Pue (Wilmington, NC USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Beat The Devil [1953] [DVD] (DVD)
"Beat the Devil," a 1953 release, is a 173 minute action/adventure/comedy, with a very distinguished list of talent before and behind the camera. It was produced by its principal star, Humphrey Bogart, (Casablanca, The Maltese Falcon). He was, of course, the American actor and cultural icon; in 1997, Entertainment Weekly magazine named him the number one movie legend of all time. In 1999, the American Film Institute ranked him as the greatest male star. The picture was quite popular at the time of its release; it was considered a witty, dry-humored spoof of the caper films that were then in vogue. But its popularity has slipped somewhat, and, oddly enough, according to the Internet, it was allowed to fall into the public domain. And that, I guess, accounts for its many inferior quality DVD releases out there, with muddy picture and sound. The version I saw comes with another film on a disk that can be bought amazingly cheaply at various places. And, criminally enough, it comes without subtitles, for a film once noted for its witty script.

A quartet of international crooks - Peterson (popular British comic actor Robert Morley,Murder At The Gallop (1963)), O'Hara (Peter Lorre, CASABLANCA, THE MALTESE FALCON), Major Jack Ross (Ivor Bernard) and Ravello -- is stranded in Italy while their ocean-going steamer is being repaired. The Dannreuthers. Billy (played by Bogie), and Maria (played by Italian beauty Gina Lollobrigida, Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell), meet them at a shabby Italian port. The six are headed for Africa, supposedly to sell vacuum cleaners but actually to buy land rumored to be loaded with uranium. They are joined in the port by another, British couple also waiting for the ship, the Chelms. Gwendolen is a constantly irritating confirmed liar who also blurts out the truth at inconvenient moments. She is played by the Oscar-winning Jennifer Jones, (The Song of Bernadette [DVD] [1943]), who looks odd as a blond. And Harry. Later on, in Africa, Scotland Yard Inspector Jack Clayton, sent out to the Dark Continent to track down something else entirely, accidentally trips over the gangster foursome. He's played by Bernard Lee ("M" in the earlier James Bond movies), who apparently despaired of playing a steady diet of cops and the like. Most of the film's other stars play out their accustomed stereotypes as well, with Lorre as a nervous little illegal alien type; Morley as the pompous, blustering Englishman, Lollobrigida as the gorgeous Italian (what a reach). Though Bogart is surely too old, and wearing his pants too high, to be a sex symbol in this one.

For the life of me, I don't know why Bogart would have paid to do exteriors on location in Italy, and then filmed in black and white, but he did. There are other oddities. I don't quite get the way the two married couples flirted with each others' spouses: perhaps it was considered sophisticated back then. The four gangsters sit down to play cards, and it sure sounds like a game of bridge: not what you would expect of them, with its steep learning curve, though perhaps they learned it while incarcerated. At one point in the movie, Lollobrigida's character takes a fall and hits her head; she's obviously been injured, but the movie never acknowledges it. Be that as it may, Bogart does get good support in the acting department. But the film is very slow in getting started; in fact some viewers may think it never does. And yes, there is a subtle black humor running through it, for those who can catch it--without subtitles, Lollo's dialog is almost incomprehensible. What a waste, considering the comic brains that put the script together.

The film is based on the book of the same name by James Helyick: it is considered by many critics to follow the novel more closely than usual, and uses the original names of most of the characters. According to the Internet, the first screenplay was written by one "James Neville," a pseudonym for the late Claud Cockburn, who was blacklisted at the time. (The Communist Claud Cockburn was the father of the recently-deceased humorous columnist Alexander Cockburn.) At any rate, the ten times Oscar nominated John Huston, (THE MALTESE FALCON, The Treasure of Sierra Madre , The Man Who Would Be King, The African Queen [DVD]), legendary director of the film, apparently didn't care for Cockburn's take and tossed it. He called in Truman Capote, who was living in Rome at the time. Capote was an American writer whose short stories, novels, plays, and non-fiction are recognized literary classics, including the novella Breakfast at Tiffany's. (1958), and In Cold Blood : A True Account of a Multiple Murder and Its Consequences (Penguin Modern Classics) (1965), both filmed as were 20 of his works. Eventually Huston himself would collaborate on the screenplay, as would two other well-known screenwriters, Anthony Veiller, and Peter Viertel. Well, the movie was made by some talented hands, but can't recommend it, unfortunately.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I'M A TYPICAL RARE SPIRIT, 28 April 2013
By 
The Movie Guy "Movies from A to Z" (United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Beat The Devil [1953] [DVD] (DVD)
It was delightful watching this old film, black and white, bad transfer and all.

Four bad guys are on their way to East Africa to secure a deal with uranium mines. Their agent is Billy (Humphrey Bogart) a man who is a "typical rare spirit." His wife is Maria (Gina Lollobrigida). They meet a British couple who are also on their way to Africa. Gina falls for the husband Harry (Edward Underdown) while Harry's wife Gwendolen (Jennifer Jones) falls for Billy. They are stranded in Italy as the boat is in need of repairs and the captain is always full of spirits.

Jennifer Jones steals this film as a fast thinker with an over active imagination who is prone to lying in every situation. The dialouge, in part written by Truman Capote, reflects national stereotypes that translate into today's world, as well as clever oxymorons, mispronounced words and misused phrases. It is film in which you want to pay close attention to the words. The bad guys are quite the lot. Peter Lorre plays Julius O'Hara, claiming "There are a lot of German O'Hara's from Chile." Maj. Jack Ross (Ivor Barnard) spouts off his love for Hitler and Mussolini along with wild conspiracy ideas. Would make for a wicked remake.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars hand held camera filming the original?, 19 Jan 2011
By 
M. Fairman - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Beat The Devil [1953] [DVD] (DVD)
A really under estimated film, funny, black and well played. However I was more then disappointed at the transfer. It looked like someone had simply played the VHS verison and someone had filmed it off a screen or TV. The worst transfer i have ever seen and totally ruined the film for me. If ever there was a bootleg that got through the net this one is it. Awful. Such a shame, but hopefully someone will do a proper, (legal?) transfer soon and that will be avaliable
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 5 July 2014
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Delighted with my purchase and the very fast delivery
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4.0 out of 5 stars BOGART FAN, 22 Aug 2013
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This review is from: Beat the Devil [DVD] (DVD)
I had never heard of this film but when I was ordering two other Bogart films this one came up as a suggestion - I really enjoyed it & anyone who likes Bogart will
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Justly Obscure, 28 Feb 2008
By 
Ian Millard - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Beat The Devil [1953] [DVD] (DVD)
Justly obscure is this black and white film directed by John Huston and using the group of famous actors so often pitted against each other in some of the noirs of the late 1930's, 1940's and onwards: Bogart, Sidney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre; Robert Morley too and (stunningly) Gina Lollobrigida. Yet even their combined efforts cannot really bring to more than flickering life this tale of intrigue and mock-conspiracy in Italy and on the high seas.

To my way of thinking, the problem is that they are unsure whether to play the film for laughs as a comedy-thriller, or to try to make it a real film noir. The story, about uranium smuggling, is taken from the eponymous book, a high seller in its day, by the Comintern agent and general wandering Communist sympathizer Claud Cockburn, who, I believe, scripted the film, having met Huston while he was filming something else in Eire, where Cockburn and his wife had moved after WW2.

The locations are interesting: the Italian Adriatic lovely even in b&w and the towns not boring: I especially liked what I think was Algiers. Almost an historical document by now, I should think, rather like Nuremberg in the Riefenstahl film "Triumph of the Will".

One flaw for me was the number of scenes involving extremely noisy groups of "Mediterraneans" of various types. One supposes that Cockburn or Huston thought that such crowd scenes would be amusing, in perhaps, the manner of the Irish peasantry featured in the books of "The Irish RM" (later most successfully filmed for British TV). Here, the ploy does not work and the scenes are just noisily tiresome. The print is not clear in either visual or audio, another factor lessening enjoyment.

In the end, I have to confess I just wanted it to end and could not have cared less about the ending.
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