BEAT THE DEVIL
1953, Sony Repertory, 89 min, UK/Italy/USA, Dir: John Huston

If screwball comedies were about criminal entanglements instead of romantic ones - and if they featured dialogue by Truman Capote - they would resemble this delightful adventure spoof. Jennifer Jones plays a compulsive liar traveling to Africa with her husband when she meets Humphrey Bogart, who’s been enlisted by a group of criminals (including Robert Morley and Peter Lorre) eager to acquire a uranium mine. Bogart lost a bundle of money and several teeth making the film, but it remains among the most distinctive and entertaining of his career. Costarring Gina Lollobrigida.


THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING
1975, Warner Bros., 129 min, USA, Dir: John Huston

Michael Caine and Sean Connery are two British soldier-pals trying to bamboozle high priests of remote Kafiristan into turning over their riches by convincing them that Connery is a god. With Christopher Plummer as Rudyard Kipling (whose short story inspired the film).


THE ROOTS OF HEAVEN
1958, 20th Century Fox, 121 min, USA, Dir: John Huston

The endangered African elephant is the “root of Heaven” in this prescient look at an idealist (Trevor Howard) trying to save a species from extinction. Romain Gary’s nuanced script, adapted from his novel, has a field day with the varied characters who hope to use the crusading conservationist to advance their own agendas. Errol Flynn, Eddie Albert and Orson Welles are among the star-studded cast (who battled withering heat during the film’s location shoot).


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