Beat the Devil, Blu-ray (1953/2015)

Director: John Huston
Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Jennifer Jones, Gina Lollobrigida, Robert Morley
Studio: Film Detective FB0001 (9/8/15)
Video: 1.33:1 B&W 1080p HD restored
Audio: PCM mono
Length: 89 min.
Rating: *****

The reviews at Amazon both say Do Not Buy this disc, because evidently the original obtained for this restoration was not the best quality, plus it was cropped to achieve a 16:9 ratio instead of the original 1.33:1.  In this case Film Detective must have responded immediately to the early feedback (one of the reviews is dated 9/12/15), because this Blu-ray is a lovely restoration of the classic film, in its original 1.33:1 black and white ratio.

All of the big Hollywood stars are in fine fettle for this production, which came from a company controlled by Bogart and Huston.  The four members of the Morley gang are great – they include the unique Peter Lorre, who explains that many Germans adopted the last name O’Hara when they moved to the U.S. Edward Underdown is also great as a Britisher married to Jennifer Jones. The scene where his case is stolen by the bad guys, he bursts into their stateroom and takes it back, and one of them holds up his hot water bottle saying “He forgot this,” and then he comes back in and grabs it in high dudgeon, is hilarious. Morley is also great at sweating and rolling his big eyes. Jennifer Jones has a major part in the convoluted plot. A true Hollywood classic gem which fully merits this reissue, though I know there are earlier versions out there.

—John Sunier