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Review: Beat the Devil
Bar Harbor
Kestrell and I just watched Beat the Devil (1953). It starts as a caper film, but quickly takes a left turn into comedy. It is sometimes described as a parody of The Maltese Falcon, but isn’t really. It does feature Humphrey Bogart and Peter Lorre, with Robert Morley doing his best Sidney Greenstreet imitation, but the plots aren’t what I would call related.

Bogart is working with a team of four international criminals who, as Kes observed, take the usual “pair of incompetent Shakespearean hitmen” and square the problem. The already significant paranoia of the criminals is raised to a high pitch when they encounter a delightful English woman (Jennifer Jones) with a habit for confabulation. Kes thinks that she is the grown-up version of the niece from Saki’s short story “The Open Window” :-)

Kestrell also pointed out that much of the confusion in the film comes from the various characters assuming that Humphrey Bogart’s character is, well, a typical Humphrey Bogart character. In this film, he’s much more of a “go along to get along” kind of guy, but people keep expecting him to be doublecrossing and seducing.

Hmmm, this seems to be more Kestrell’s review than mine. Oh well, I can the state on my own behalf that I greatly enjoyed it. Recommended.