Beat The Devil

I was interested in watching this film because it is called “the first camp movie” on various sites. It is also called a spoof of The Maltese Falcon.

It has an impressive cast: Humphrey Bogart, Peter Lorre, Gina Lollobrigida, Robert Morley, Edward Underdown (later on appearing in Dad’s Army), was directed by John Huston, and co-written by Truman Capote.

The story involves a band of swindlers who are trying to claim some uranium-rich land in Kenya. The story is actually a bit confusing at times, although I was a tad sleepy while watching this.

So the acting was fine, and the dialogue was snappy and amusing at times. It was just the story which let it down a little, it wasn’t as funny overall as it should have been, and it felt a bit muddled. It was filmed well, and the location in a small seaside town in Italy was good to look at.

Most of the funny parts actually were from the Italian actors who were mostly in the background. There was the drunk captain of the cruise ship the main characters arrived on, and who was always shouting loudly and angrily in Italian at his crew. The ship’s purser was also funny with his dry sarcasm and wit. There was also a bus of rowdy Italians that provided a laugh.

Of the main cast one actor was funniest as the wife of a very British chap. She was a compulsive liar and would make up stories on the spot that were amusing. The actress also played her very well.

Humphrey was just going through the motions. I read on Wikipedia that he had a car accident during filming and lost a few teeth. A young Peter Sellers was hired to do a few of Humphrey’s lines as he couldn’t speak well. I did notice that Humphrey had a lot of saliva on his lips at times, perhaps as a result of the accident.

I didn’t really see this as being camp, or even a spoof, it was just a mild comedy. This bombed at the time, and Humphrey who had put some money into it, did not like the film.

If you are into a little film history, and some witty dialogue, then I can recommend checking this out.

Date watched: January 13th
Score: 6/10
Film count 2017: 11

The pressbook makes it out to be something it is not…


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