Hi! Today, I’m reviewing Beat the Devil from 1953, which is probably one of the most bizarre movies I’ve ever seen. Actually, I’ve actually seen more bizarre movies than this, but I won’t go into that.

It is pretty bizarre though. It stars Humphrey Bogart and was directed by John Huston and bears a striking resemblance to The Maltese Falcon, Casablanca, and a few other movies that you could think of from around that period. I’m wondering if it’s because Huston came in there with a mindset to make a sequel. I don’t know. He kind of claims it was a spoof, but that’s kind of after the fact. Actually, it’s Capote who said that, that it was a spoof of The Maltese Falcon. Well, maybe that’s what it ended up being kind of. Really, it’s about this man played by Humphrey Bogart who gets involved with four, uh, shady characters. I’ll just put it that way.

Image via IMDB.com. (Doesn’t Peter Lorre look adorable as a blond?)

And they’re all supposed to take a boat to somewhere. I don’t know why they can’t take a plane like this one guy keeps complaining. Why aren’t they taking a plane? And, no, they’re gonna take a boat and they have to wait for the boat. And while they’re waiting for the boat, they meet up with this odd couple. She seems so much smarter than him, but, well, I’ll leave it for you to decide whether she is actually smarter or if they’re both incredibly smart, because this movie is all about people outsmarting each other and it’s like one outrageous lie after the next. And you just never know what’s coming next and what’s gonna happen, but really kind of you do after a while. It’s sort of like, all right, well, let’s flip the script here and see what happens.

Image via Just Screenshots. (“Ah, my good man. I have a chill on me liver.”)

It’s almost as if they were improvising the entire movie as they went. That’s essentially, I think what happened, which has to be nerve-wracking for everybody involved, knowing what I know about making a movie. It’s not something you just do on the fly, unless it’s a very small production and this was not. So, it’s extremely interesting to watch this. I found it, I thought it was kind of hilarious and just so over the top that it was fun to watch, but some people won’t like it. It’s kind of a movie that you’ll either love or hate, basically. So I will leave you with that thought. As well as the thought that John Huston and Bogie were both drunk off their asses as they made this thing, Jennifer Jones had two nervous breakdowns during the production, and Truman Capote was brought in to write the script, to punch up the script because the original was so bad. And it was based, believe it or not, on a book called Beat the Devil. So now I’m incredibly curious to see what they started out with in terms of the source material, because I wonder how far they deviated from it in all their drunken glory.

Image via It Came From the Bottom Shelf! (Anyone bring a beach towel?)

That’s it. And I’ll talk to you later.

And here’s the trailer!

PS: I love the description under the video:

On their way to Africa are a group of rogues who hope to get rich there, and a seemingly innocent British couple. They meet and things happen…

That sums it up nicely! :)

PPS: If you enjoyed this review, become a blogger/reviewer’s patron here! :)

Directed by John Huston
Produced by John Huston
Screenplay by John Huston and Truman Capote




This publication is a mix of real and sardonic movie reviews. I also feature public domain films with snarky captions in my awkward version of MST3K.

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Debbi Mack

Debbi Mack

New York Times bestselling author of seven novels, including the Sam McRae Mystery series. Screenwriter, podcaster, and blogger. My website: www.debbimack.com.

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