Beat the Devil (1954)

A dazzling ensemble piece, with a Truman Capote script, that manages to be both dauntingly intellectual and effortlessly charming.
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.
1954 USA, United Kingdom, Italy
Directed by
John Huston
Produced by
John Huston, Angelo Rizzoli, Robert Haggiag, Humphrey Bogart
Written by
Truman Capote, John Huston
Humphrey Bogart, Jennifer Jones, Gina Lollobrigida
Running time
100 minutes