The Best Old Movies on a Big Screen This Fortnight: NYC Repertory Cinema Picks, December 24-January 6

12/24/2014 1:00 PM |

Beat the Devil-Bogie

Beat the Devil (1953)
Directed by John Huston
This Maltese Falcon sendup, coscripted by Truman Capote, trades a shadowy San Francisco for a backdrop of international intrigue and mineral-mining machinations. Bogart stars as the fifth in a quartet of uranium schemers en route to Africa but stuck in an Italian port town (which evokes a black-and-white Contempt) while their ship’s captain sobers up. Bored, and with progressive ideas about marriage, Bogart tumbles into an affair with a chatty, also-married fabulist played by Jennifer Jones as an Englishwoman without an English accent. (“Are you a typical American?” the Tulsa native asks Bogart with typical American inflection.) The unsteady comic timing and on-the-fly feel don’t neuter the best gags, but it’s most recommended for the performances: Peter Lorre, in a bit part, was rarely more slyly hilarious, while Bogart is at his suavest, his most intelligent and darkly handsome, so world-weary he’s come out the other side, perpetually smirking at all the silly drama storming around him. Henry Stewart (Dec 25, 10:15pm; Dec 26, 4:45pm, at the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Huston retrospective)