Looking for something to take your mind off bad news? Not that you’re going to ignore it, but if you’re like me, you need a break sometimes. Well, here’s a classic film that just might do the trick.
For pure inane tomfoolery, you can’t beat Beat the Devil (1954). Starring Humphrey Bogart, with Jennifer Jones, Gina Lollobrigida, Peter Lorre, and Robert Morley, directed by John Huston, with a screenplay by Huston and Truman Capote, this film is living pr0of that it takes a lot of talent to create something truly ridiculous. Which, by the way, Huston and Capote were trying to do on purpose. Which is one reason (besides losing a lot of money on the deal) Bogart disliked the finished product and called it “phony.”
But it’s the army of goofy characters in the background, actors you never heard of, who turn this movie into a triumph. Whether it’s the enormously fat, self-important chauffeur, or the drunken, apoplectic sea-captain, or the bewildered bartender, these bit-players are riotously funny. As great as the regular cast is, the nobodies practically steal the show. They are most emphatically not phony.
A good laugh is medicine. And boy, if you don’t need a laugh these days, you’ll never need one. If it was Robert Morley and Peter Lorre trying to steal our country out from under us, we wouldn’t have so much to worry about.
I’m not going to bother with the plot of Beat the Devil because it’s really not important to your enjoyment of the movie. Just sit back and enjoy the daft thing. It’ll do you good.