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BEAT THE DEVIL

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BEAT THE DEVIL

Part of Weekend Classics: Restoration Roundup.

They’re desperate characters. Not one of them looked at my legs.” Suave Humphrey Bogart and tea-and-crumpet-loving wife Gina Lollobrigida (“Emotionally, I am English”), en route to a “uranium deal” in East Africa—with “business associates” including Robert Morley and Peter Lorre—meet up with a congenital liar, blonde Jennifer Jones (her hair dying irked on-set hubby David O. Selznick). And then after there’s this shipwreck, an Arab official demands details about his beloved...Rita Hayworth. Supposedly scripted by Truman Capote as they went along, BEAT THE DEVIL so baffled its preview audiences that it was instantly cut (by four minutes, including some censorship excisions) and re-edited, with an added Bogart narration turning the whole thing into a flashback—which made it all the more baffling. Seen for decades only in that mangled version—and in dismal bootleg copies—this new restoration went back to the original 35mm camera negative and other sources to re-create the unseen longer version. Based on the novel by James Helvick (pen name of Claud Cockburn). (Synopsis from Film Forum)

Restored digitally in 4K from the original camera negatives at Sony Colorworks. John Polito at Audio Mechanics completed the digital restoration of the soundtrack. Restored in association with The Film Foundation, Regency Enterprises and Twentieth Century Fox.

“Careens from scene to scene with barely contained, wholly invigorating chaos. The disorder is made even more delectable by a game cast, each performer, without exception and regardless of celebrity status, embracing and in sync with the movie’s shambolic energy.” —Melissa Anderson, The Village Voice

Link: ‘Beat the Devil’ a Bogart oddity, digitally restored to its oddball fullest’ —Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

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