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.


FREUD
1962, Universal, 140 min, USA, Dir: John Huston

Montgomery Clift delivers his last truly great performance as the father of psychoanalysis in this fascinating biopic, in which his theories coalesce around the treatment of a patient (Susannah York) in late-1880s Vienna. The film’s original screenwriter, philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre, left following creative differences; his successors, Charles Kaufman and Wolfgang Reinhardt, earned an Oscar nomination for their script (as did Jerry Goldsmith for his score). Just as noteworthy is the work of cinematographer Douglas Slocombe, who gives the various dream and fantasy sequences their own distinctive look.


THE ASPHALT JUNGLE
1950, Warner Brothers, 112 min, Dir: John Huston

The kingpin of caper films, featuring one of the best ensemble casts ever. Director John Huston's neo-realist adaptation of W. R. Burnett’s novel examines the ambitions of small-time hoods and brought a new level of empathy and authenticity to crime - that "left-handed form of human endeavor." Famous as the film that introduced Marilyn Monroe, THE ASPHALT JUNGLE deserves renewed recognition as a crucial work of noir Americana. With Sterling Hayden, Louis Calhern, James Whitmore and Jean Hagen.


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