Beat the Devil Review

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Four international crooks are travelling to Africa with Billy and Maria Danreuther ostensibly to sell vacuum cleaners but actually to carry out a large-scale swindle involving uranium, when they get stranded in Italy. There, they meet others who they think have the same designs as them.


The Hudson Hawk or Last Action Hero of its day, this dared turn loose big stars and a major director on a send-up of the type of picture they might be expected to make. A skit on Huston and Bogart's work on The Maltese Falcon, it follows a bunch of shady but pathetic adventurers as they take a trip from Italy to Africa to pull off a gigantic land swindle. Robert Morley and Peter Lorre parody the Sydney Greenstreet-Lorre teaming, while Lollobrigida, as Bogart's wearisomely explosive wife, and Jones, as a compulsive liar, provide offbeat femme interest. Meanwhile, Bogart sends himself up as the kind of hero who can escape from an Arab prison by promising to introduce a sheikh to Rita Hayworth.

A well played movie with a Truman Capote script that manages to be both dauntingly intellectual and charmingly daffy.