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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.

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