Beats Me

Jennifer Jones and Gina Lollobrigida in Beat the Devil (1953)

Billy (Humphrey Bogart) and Maria Dannreuther (Gina Lollobrigida) find themselves stranded in Italy en route to Africa. They are not the only ones as Billy's partners; Peterson (Robert Morley), O'Hara (Peter Lorre) and Ross (Ivor Barnard) also find themselves stranded in Italy along with the Chelm's (Edward Underdown & Jennifer Jones). But it seems these strangers have a lot in common as they are all aiming to reach Africa to lay claim to property rich in uranium.

Usually when a movie gives me a head ache it is due to the director going all "Spinal Tap" and turning the volume up to 11 on the action. But once in a whole a movie gives me a head ache for a whole other reason and "Beat the Devil" is one of those movies which not only can't be bothered with trying to establish story but tries to entertain by big name stars playing full on characters. As such listening to Jennifer Jones or Gina Lollobrigida talk at people rather than talking to them is painful and it is not just them as the likes of Bogart and Morley are at just as much fault.

The trouble is that each of the actors are so wrapped up in playing their characters that it over powers the story and the comedy. As such you might have Morley giving us his usual look of shock whilst Jennifer Jones plays it intentionally naive you end up not taking in what they are saying or what is going on. On the subject of which it seems every character also has a case of the verboseness as every single character strings sentences together as if they are delivering monologues rather than having every day conversations.

What this all boils down to is that "Beat the Devil" just didn't do it for me and ended up a movie over powered by not just the performances but also the dialogue which had that feel of being too crafted. Maybe those who are fans of Bogart, Jones or even Lollobrigida might find something entertaining about this but unless you are huge fans this has many flaws.

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