Beat the Devil (1954)

A dazzling ensemble piece, with a Truman Capote script, that manages to be both dauntingly intellectual and effortlessly charming.

Film details

Alternative titles

  • Il Tesoro Dell'africa Alternative

Introduction

Called the first camp movie by Roger Ebert, Beat the Devil offers a wry send-up of noir classics.

In his sixth role for his friend John Huston, Humphrey Bogart stars as one of a band of disreputable misfits killing time in a port town before boarding a rust-bucket ship to Africa in order to make their fortunes from the continent’s uranium deposits. With a great ensemble of character actors that includes Robert Morley’s pompous fraud, Peter Lorre as the German-accented O’Hara (whose wartime record is forever a source of suspicion) and a prim British married couple (Edward Underdown and a show-stealing Jennifer Jones).

Taking special aim at Huston’s own The Maltese Falcon, the satirical nature of Beat the Devil (co-scripted by a 28-year-old Truman Capote) puzzled film-goers at the time, but the film’s cult status has grown with time.

Cast & Credits

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