BEAT THE DEVIL (1953)

A quartet of international crooks — Peterson, O’Hara, Ross and Ravello — is stranded in Italy while their steamer is being repaired. With them are the Dannreuthers. The six are headed for Africa, presumably to sell vacuum cleaners but actually to buy land supposedly loaded with uranium. They are joined by others who apparently have similar designs. At one point in the film, Ivor Barnard’s character is referred as the “galloping major”. This is the title of a film from 1951, also made by Romulus Productions, and starring Basil Radford. The Galloping Major in this other film is a racehorse. Humphrey Bogart was involved in a serious automobile accident during production of this film, which knocked out several of his teeth and hindered his ability to speak. John Huston hired a young British actor noted for his mimicry skills to rerecord some of Bogart’s spoken lines during post-production looping. Although it is undetectable when viewing the film today, it is Peter Sellers who provides Bogart’s voice during some of the scenes in this movie. John Huston was star/producer Humphrey Bogart’s first choice to direct. However, Huston had some scheduling conflicts – he was due to make a movie with Katharine Hepburn (which was never made, as Hepburn graciously stepped aside to help out Huston), not to mention that he had to finish his then-current project Moulin Rouge. Nicholas Ray, who Bogart had worked with twice before, was considered to direct in case Huston could not finish in time. This was the fifth and last movie that Humphrey Bogart would make with Peter Lorre. The other four were, The Maltese Falcon, Casablanca, All Through the Night, and Passage to Marseille.

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