This is Grover Crisp‘s two-year-old restored version, of course, which was first shown at a Reel Thing Technical Symposium in August 2016. The restoration runs 94 minutes compared to the 89-minute version that’s been around forever.
The newbie played at Manhattan’s Film Forum in February 2017, and then a couple of months later at the 2017 TCM Classic Film Festival. Why have we waited two and a half years for an announcement about the Bluray version, and why is Twilight Time releasing it and not Sony? Because Sony doesn’t appear to give a damn about restored classic films. At the very least they’re indifferent and drag-assy. Crisp did a beautiful job of restoring From Here To Eternity in 2009, and Sony didn’t put a Bluray version out until 2013.
The forthcoming Twilight Time Bluray is great news, I’m sure, for the 1250 to 1300 classic film fanatics worldwide who are sure to buy a copy.
To be perfectly honest I’ve never loved Oswald Morris‘ lensing of this 1953 film — it’s too sun-filled, too bleachy. It should have been shot in color with the Amalfi Coast settings and all.
The following is from a DVD Talk report on the 8.16 Reel Thing Beat The Devil screening, written by Gary Teetzwl:
“Grover Crisp said they had put off the restoration for years, trying to locate better-quality materials, especially the original neg. Finally deciding to work with what they had, they began evaluating their elements and discovered that what they thought was a dupe negative contained about 60% of the original neg. They also borrowed a fine grain from Romulus in England, hoping that they might be able to use it for some sections where they did not have the original neg. It turned out to be in excellent condition — and was an alternate, uncensored version of the film!
“All the public domain versions of Beat the Devil that have been circulating have been of a shorter, re-cut/censored version [i.e., 89 minutes]. Interesting point: Grover insists the film is NOT in the public domain.
“The differences between the two versions of Beat the Devil:
“1. The uncut version is told chronologically. The re-cut version uses a flashback structure and adds some Humphrey Bogart narration.
“2. The uncut version opens with a new scene of Jennifer Jones and Edward Underdown walking through the streets of the small Italian port town. The dialogue sets up some of Jones’ flakiness.
“3. About 18 minutes into the film there is a scene of Jones and Bogart talking outside, and Jones playfully accuses Bogart of making a pass at her. We then dissolve to a short scene of Gina Lollobrigida bringing the ailing Underdown some tea, which ends abruptly as we dissolve back to Bogart and Jones. In the uncut version, the first scene between Bogart and Jones goes on slightly longer. We see them walking off and then reveal Peter Lorre shadowing them. We then cut to the Lollobrigida tea scene, which is now a little longer. We see her lean in to give Underdown the tea tray, her bosom coming very close to his face as he turns away awkwardly. We then cut back to Bogie and Jones.
“4. The re-cut version takes a shot of the ship’s captain yelling angrily from later in the film, flops it and inserts it into the scene of the characters boarding the ship.
“5. In the scene where Bogart cons the Rita Hayworth-loving Arab policeman with the claims that he knows the actress personally, we see in the uncut version a pin-up of Hayworth in a racy swimsuit. A casual viewer might think she’s nude. The re-cut version darkens the whole upper right corner of the screen, creating the effect of a shadow that conceals the pin-up.
“There may be a couple other small differences, but those are the major ones. The restoration looked and sounded great; it would be nice if we could get a Criterion or Twilight Time release.”
Here’s a 4.20.17 piece I wrote about the various whatevers concerning this title.