Beat the Devil (1954) or 1953 according to some sources, is a Bogie adventure movie that is just plain bad. Available on Netflix Instant, Carlos and I watched this film last night and we are still not sure what it was about. I'll try my best to give you a synopsis. Bogie plays Billy Dannreuther, a man who is tagging along with four crooks trying to score some uranium rich land in Africa. The video quality on Netflix Instant is very poor and the audio is even worse. Every time I heard the name "Danrreuther" I kept thinking they were saying Dan Rather! Billy (Bogie) is married to a sexy British/Italian woman named Maria, played by the vivacious Gina Lollobrigida. Billy encounters a British couple, the Chelms, who are also on their way to Africa. While they are stuck in Italy waiting for the ship to be repaired, Gwendolen Chelm (Jennifer Jones) annoys, interrogates and seduces her way into getting information out of Billy and giving too much information herself while at the same time falling in love with Billy. Jennifer Jones is all annoying and not the least bit charismatic in this film. There is a bit of wife swapping with Mrs. Dannreuther going for Mr. Chelm and Mr. Dannreuther macking out on Mrs. Chelm. Mr. Chelm is a loose canon and sinks the vessel. They get stranded on the coast of an unnamed African nation and it's Billy to the rescue! Oh yeah and Peter Lorre is somewhere in there playing Julius O'Hara, a German with an Irish surname, a weak joke made earlier in the movie. There is a twist at the end that makes only a little sense and neatly ties up the picture.
The movie is supposed to be funny seeing as it's a spoof but it fails miserably. It didn't help that the Netflix Instant copy of this film was so poor that I could barely hear the dialogue and the exotic locale looked as appealing as it would in a black and white photograph in a newspaper. The plot was convoluted and the characters were not the least bit interesting. I felt bad for Bogie and for Lorre for having to be reduced to performing in this drivel. If you've seen this movie and liked it, bless your soul because I just couldn't. The only redeeming part about the movie was the opening sequence which ties in very well with the ending. It throws you for a loop until you get through the whole movie (you are brave if you do so) and see how it ties in. Check it out here: Opening Sequence