Friday, June 7, 2013

#1,026. Bedazzled (1967)

Directed By: Stanley Donen

Starring: Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, Eleanor Bron

Tag line: "Peter Cook and Dudley Moore in their first starring comedy!"

Trivia: In West Germany, this film was released as Mephisto '68

Having found success on television with their comedy series Not Only… But Also, Peter Cook and Dudley Moore next tried their hand at feature films, writing and starring in 1967's Bedazzled. In it, Moore plays a short order cook named Stanley Moon who's madly in love with his co-worker, Margaret (Eleanor Bron), yet lacks the self-confidence to even talk to her. Driven to despair, Stanley decides to end it all, and attempts to kill himself. Enter George Spiggott (Peter Cook), better known as The Devil, who, in exchange for Stanley's soul, offers to help the poor schlub find the happiness he desires. Stanley agrees, and is granted seven wishes, all of which he uses to win Margaret's heart. But as each wish backfires, Stanley starts to think his new pal, George, may have pulled a fast one on him.

Aside from being a funny movie, Bedazzled also features a young Dudley Moore, future star of such mega-hits as 10 and Arthur, in an early film role. Moore is believable as the nebbish Stanley, a man so lonely that he's willing to trade his immortal soul for a chance at love, but it's Peter Cook who walks away with the movie, portraying the Devil as more of a practical joker than the personification of evil. Along with a handful of humorous scenes detailing George's wrongdoings (in one, he raids an elderly woman's refrigerator, and then cons her out of some money), Stanley's seven wishes also lead to a few good laughs (early on, he wishes that he and Margaret were married, only to find that his new "wife" is sexually active with everyone but him). Aside from the Devil, Stanley is also introduced, at various times, to each of the Seven Deadly Sins, including the gorgeous Lillian Lust (played by the seductive Raquel Welch), who's only too happy to teach Stanley a thing or two about the opposite sex.

Heavily influenced by the British Mod scene of the ‘60s, Bedazzled may look a bit dated to modern viewers, but thanks to Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, the jokes are as fresh today as they were back then.


Anthony Lee Collins said...

Haven't seen this in decades, but I liked it a lot at the time. The Wrong Box (from around that same time) is really good, too. I also saw Cook and Moore on Broadway, and that was great.

stevegreen said...

Cook also plays a somewhat Satanic figure in The Rise and Rise of Michael Rimmer (1970), although it's rather less explicit.

Dave B. said...

Stevegreen: I haven't seen THE RISE AND RISE OF MICHAEL RIMMER, but knowing Peter Cook is in it, I might have to check it out. Thanks for bringing it to my attention!