CLASSIC VIDEO SHOWPLACE: “Beat The Devil”
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For over a hundred years some of the greatest video treasures of all time have been produced. Some have been lost in the sands of time and others, soon to be rediscovered, will become fan favorites for a whole new generation.
Each week we will feature just one of the many hidden gems that you can see on RCN TV with insights and commentaries on classic television shows and legendary cinematic performances.
Very few actors can say they were a bigger box office draw that Humphrey Bogart in the 1940s and early 50s.
He starred in several films regarded as the greatest of all time and won his first Academy Award in what many called the ultimate on-screen pairing with Katharine Hepburn, The African Queen, in 1951.
In 1999, the American Film Institute designated Bogart as the greatest male film actor of cinema’s “Classic Era.”
And in 1953, Bogart teamed with another screen legend, Peter Lorre, Academy Award winning director John Huston, multiple-Oscar nominated actress Jennifer Jones, Bernard Lee (the original “M” in the James Bond movie series) and one of the sexiest leading ladies of the era, Gina Lollobrigida, in one of Bogart’s last films, Beat The Devil.
(Beat The Devil stars, from left, Jones, Bogart and Lollobrigida)
The film was originally intended as a sequel of one of the greatest film noir flicks of all time, The Maltese Falcon. However, shortly after co-writers Houston and Truman Capote started the screenplay, they changed direction and instead wrote a spoof of Falcon and similar films of the genre.
Unlike later parody films, the plot is interesting and the comedic lines nicely accompany the storyline with neither getting in the way of each other. While not a typical film style for any of the leading stars, the actors generally received positive reviews for their performances.
Bogart got in a real-life car crash during the production and had to have several of his lines dubbed over in order for the film to be completed on time.
The actor they hired to double Bogey’s voice?
The then-unknown actor Peter Sellers who, among other great films, became the genius behind The Pink Panther movies. (Can you tell which scenes he was in?)
Though nearing the end of his legendary career, Bogart was still clearly on his game, following up this film up with his Oscar-nominated performance in The Caine Mutiny.
Film critic Roger Ebert included Devil in his “great movie” list and singles it out as perhaps the first ever successful “camp film” in cinema history.
Beat The Devil will be featured in the RCN Movie Vault on Thursday, May 7, at 9:00 am.
To view the complete rundown of classic programming on RCN TV, check out the weekly listings here on our website.