Friday, June 7, 2013

#1,026. Bedazzled (1967) - Spotlight on England

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

After the success of their TV comedy series Not Only… But Also, Peter Cook and Dudley Moore moved onto writing feature films, starting with 1967's Bedazzled

Moore plays short order cook Stanley Moon, who is madly in love with his co-worker Margaret (Eleanor Bron), yet lacks the confidence to even talk to her. Driven to despair, Stanley decides to end it all, and tries 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 will use to try and win Margaret's heart. But as each and every wish backfires, Stanley begins to think that his new pal George may have pulled a fast one on him!

Aside from being a very funny movie, Bedazzled also features a young Dudley Moore - future star of such Hollywood mega-hits as 10 and Arthur - in an early film role. Moore is perfectly cast as the nebbish Stanley, a man so lonely that he's willing to trade his immortal soul for a chance at true love. 

But it's Peter Cook as the Devil who walks away with the movie, portraying Beelzebub as more of a practical joker than the personification of evil. Along with a handful of humorous scenes in which George annoys a few locals (at one point, he raids an elderly woman's refrigerator, then cons her out of some money), Stanley's seven "wishes" also lead to a few good laughs. Early on, Stanley wishes that he and Margaret were husband and wife, only to find their marriage in shambles, and that his new "wife" is sexually active with everyone but him! 

Aside from the Devil, Stanley is also introduced - at various intervals - to the personifications of each of the Seven Deadly Sins, including the gorgeous Lillian Lust, played by the seductive Raquel Welch, who is 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 just as fresh today as they were 45+ years ago.


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.

Anonymous said...

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

DVD Infatuation 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!