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I did have high expectations going into this film, being a fan of Cook
and Moore through what is available of "Not Only But Also", and several
other Cook projects like the superb collaboration with Chris Morris,
"Why Bother?" The expectations were largely fulfilled when I got to see
this film, via a rare showing on Channel 4 this last April, as a
tribute to Dudley Moore. The remake with Liz Hurley in place of Cook
(how crass and thoughtless a piece of casting? They should really have
discarded the title "Bedazzled" and just made it a Faust update, and
not made any association with the Pete n' Dud film) is of course an
irrelevance, and it is truly emblematic of our culture that it has
received so many more IMDb votes than this original.
This film succeeds where "The Hound of the Baskervilles", a later Cook-Moore vehicle, abysmally fails. "Bedazzled" contains the essence of their comedic appeal, rooted as it is in errant taboo-breaking and gleeful absurdism. The strong guiding influence of Cook is in the script, which he had strong control over, by all accounts. The concept is a modern spin on the Faustian legend, based in 1960s London (amongst diversions!). "Bedazzled", with this scenario and its effective portrayal, is thus most winning when compared to both concept and execution in "The Hound of the Baskervilles"' lamentable case.
We have Pete n' Dud centre stage, and both at their comedic peak. Moore as a hapless, beleaguered little chap, and Cook as a matter-of-fact, mischievous, cunning and charming devil. A devil called Mr George Spiggott, bizarrely! :-) The other turns are good, and merely complementary, with the various sins portrayed pretty well. Eleanor Bron is reasonable as the malleable (according to the wishes) but essentially quite undeveloped love interest of Moore's. Not that this particularly matters in a comedy such as this; and her hair is eye catching. :-)
The brazenly literal cameo from Raquel Welch is something of a scream I must say; no pretence at her being anything else, which I presume there has been in other Welch movies of the period.
The various segments in this episodic film, are perhaps variable in their quality, but none are poor. The episodic nature of the film really does work in its favour keeping it fresh, but having the wonderful London linking sequences the heart of the film. It gets most amusing as Cook's devil repeatedly outwits Moore and finds loopholes in his wishes to downright exploit. The "happy family and home life" wish is really quite bizarre and almost disturbing in its oddness, while maybe the "rich" one slightly overdoes Bron's bumptious ultra-sexuality, even if the whole segment works very well. The "leaping nuns" part is prime "Not Only But Also" in its hushed absurdity and is a joy. The art direction and music aspects are notably good, embellishing the film and drawing out its sixties context. This film has not and can not date, as it is all so tastefully achieved and its technical grasp never exceeds its reach.
The whole film I feel, works excellently, with dashes of irony and an effective restating of the Faustian morals. There is an engaging melancholy to this film, below its comedic surface. The scene of the old woman being fobbed off by Cook is briefly poignant and suggestive of a whole society's delusion. The scenes as Cook effectively knocks on the door of Heaven feel slightly sombre to me, as well as oddly comic. There are some quite thoughtful scenes of dialogue as well, with the droll Cook in his element, perched atop a postbox. Of course, the depressing outcomes of each wish for Moore's character, only add to the slightly prickly, problematic mood that underlies the film. The whole thing ends on a very apposite note, I should add with a glint in my eye.
I loved watching this film, and while I doubt it could quite be labelled a fully-formed "masterpiece", it is a startlingly good evocation of the 1960s in a way... and also very much an amusing, clever comedy, with the subversive spirit of Peter Cook stamped all over it.
"Bedazzled", mainly because it's not available on DVD (and even VHS in the
UK), has become something of a cult in recent years. This is also due to the
simple fact that its a very good film, a very mannered and well-crafted high
Dudley Moore and Peter Cook were still friends in 1967. They were two of British TV's most feted stars, and had also enthusiastically appeared together in a few ensemble comedy films. They were no slouches when it came to their first feature either. Stanley Donen was brought in a director, Cook toiled over the witty script, Moore did the perky score.
"Bedazzled" is slightly dated and is quite an uncommercial product overall, but its still a clever and interesting film. It doesnt deliver bellylaughs, but it is pretty thought-provoking and intelligent. There's funny one-liners ("Yes, Irving Moses-the fruitier etc), totally original ideas (the animated fly sequence, Raquel Welsh as Lust), slapstick stuff and a top pop parody with Cook as the indifferent "Drimble Wedge".
The pathos and sadness underpinning the movie is perhaps best summed up with the conned old lady's "Goodbye" as the Eyewash men leave. "Bedazzled" is very British and very 60s, but it still a well-made and well-acted fantasy, much better than the silly 2000 remake.
Cooke and Moore were possibly the finest comedians the UK has ever
produced before Python and others followed Pete and Dud were the
undisputed kings of the new cutting edge of comedy/satire in the UK.
But always just under the surface (and later out in the open) there was a sadness and dis-satisfaction to both Peter Cooke and Dudley Moore and I think some of that shows up in this film. Think of the old lady taken for all her money by the Devil and the cheery goodbye she still manages. Also part of the film seems to be dealing with the moral flexibility of people given their circumstance.
Stanley Moon (Moore) has limited opportunities as a short order cook all he desires is the love of Margaret one of the waitresses at the Wimpy he works in. But he is a good person, when after a botched suicide attempt he sells his soul to the devil (Cooke) he has all the opportunities in the world but it is easier for the devil to corrupt him.
Throughout the seven wishes (in accordance with 7 the mystic number, 7 days of the week, 7 deadly sins, 7 brides for 7 brothers..)Stanley can only think of his own needs and perhaps this is why they fail to make him happy. On his one opportunity to give a wish away to stop one of the devils petty tricks (sending a swarm of bee's to harass some flower children) he refuses saying 'Their mine and iv'e only got four left!' The other main theme of this film is more to the forefront dealing with Cooke and Moores attitudes towards religion and it's place in what at the time was the modern world. People were beginning to come away from the church and for the first time non-believers were becoming the majority. Part of the film lampoons religion particularly the bouncing nuns, but at the end it's god who wins out over the devil all be it by a technicality. In a way they showed the obvious contradictions and flaws in the Christian faith - religion nice idea but surely it cant be that way? If all of the above makes this film sound heavy going be assured it's not, and where as in others hands it may have become a pretentious mess it becomes a light hearted very funny comedy romp. If you just want a laugh on a Saturday night this will provide it, if you want to look deeper in and start divining meaning from every little aspect you can it's that sort of film.
Highly recommended 9/10 NOTE - AVOID THE REMAKE LIKE THE PLAGUE IT'S Awful
Just watched it again and this time I get it. Thirty-four years ago the
over my head and I missed most of the double entendres. 1967 was a great
year for them as censorship had just been slackened. The pop star sequence is in fuzzy black and white because it's supposed to be on TV - yes, that's what it used to look like. (Did people really dance like that?)
The script is brilliant but sometimes the delivery is so throw-away the jokes are missed. Maybe as Peter Cook wrote them he didn't think they needed
underlining. For example, when Stanley borrows George's red nightshirt and
says something like "Does it really suit me? Red's not my colour, I'm usually more conservative." Red for socialism, blue for the conservative party. George's red socks were sported by Labour voters well into the conservative 70s and
Little things you may not know: Victorian nightshirts and long-legged bathing suits were a fad in 1967. George and Stanley when being themselves speak in
working class accents (unlike God). Dudley really was working class, unlike
RIP to both. Let's eat a bowl of raspberries and cream in their memories. xxxxxxxxxxx
This is one of my personal favorites. Stanley Moon (Dudley Moore), a down-and-out Londoner who has a miserable job at the local Wimpy Burgers and has the hots for a beautiful waitress named Margaret Spencer, tries to hang himself, but then the Devil has to come in and save him. The Devil (played by Peter Cook) isn't all red and horned, but dressed in a nice tuxedo and wears Ray-Bans. He is interested in Stanley for the sole fact that George (the name he goes by) made a deal with God to get a hundred billion souls first before the other. In exchange for his soul, Stanley gets seven wishes, and of course George has to twist them all into nightmares, just for a cheap laugh. ("You just left me one little loophole. I had to take advantage of it, doctor's orders!") One of my favorite scenes is where Stanley and George are passing by as police officers, and with the snap of George's fingers parking meters expire, old ladies' grocery bags tear apart, and fires start in trash bins. Definitely a good movie if it's rainy outside, and you're all depressed -- it'll lift you up in no time!
I have not seen the 2000 remake of Bedazzled for the same reason I
never did see the Psycho remake - why mess with something so good?
Dudley Moore as a short-order cook leading a life of quiet desperation and Peter Cooke as the Devil team-up to deliver an extremely funny movie with surprisingly deep theological commentary. The Theodicy, the nature of sin and repentance, and other interesting topics are discussed and explored.
The first time I saw this movie I liked the offbeat humor (If you like Monty Python you will like this movie as well). However, I liked it better the second time I saw it and liked it even more the third time around, etc. So the first you see it you may give it a 7, the second time an 8 and by the third time it will rate a 9 or 10! I actually would give it a 9.5.
Speaking of a 10, Raquel Welch is appropriately cast for this movie!
Some other classic comedies I really like are the Pink Panther Movies, Arsenic and Old Lace (Cary Grant), A New Leaf (Walter Matthau) Dr. Strange Love, Pillow Talk (Doris Day/Rock Hudson),etc. IMHO, Bedazzled belongs in this company.
Unfortunately, it is only out on VHS, but I like this movie enough that I will buy the DVD when it comes out. (Note: it is now available on DVD and I did buy it!)
It would probably would rate a PG or PG-13 because of appropriately sexually explicit content - a funny seduction scene and some very brief nudity (movie would be fine without it, but it is extremely brief).
The movie pokes fun at religiosity. Which might offend some religious people. But if you are a person of faith who doesn't take yourself too seriously, you will find this to be a good watch and you might get an interesting discussion or two out of it.
I first bought this movie on VHS in 1983 as an ex rental from a garage,
if it wasn't worn out then it certainly is now and I probably remember
every line in the movie, but for some reason I have spent the whole
evening searching for a copy I can buy to enjoy it again.
The movie is a gem incomparable to the 2000 effort.
Why is the movie so good? I believe the secret to the movie is that they played themselves, Cooke cruel, but humorous, arrogant, intelligent but tragic, Moore full of good intention, seemingly one step behind, but with the brighter future; the combination is gripping.
At the end of it all, as in life Cooke is exposed as being slightly more fragile than he gives on and an unlikely bond appears to have developed between the two.
I was reassured to hear the 60's critics found the movie bland and questioned Cooke's acting ability. Cooke's genius was non-conformity and the movie is full of it, trampolining Nuns, a hypnotically haunting Pop song, thought controlled pigeons, unforgivable abuse of kind old ladies and all captured in a cinematographic magic as were "the Prisoner" and "The Avengers" and which can never be recreated by a sequel.
There are so many great asides, lines and scenes, that to mention one or the other does not do justice; it is the wealth of colourful detail in the scenes, the events, the characters and the script. This movie certainly isn't "bland", "bland" is Cooke's appearance in the "One foot in the Algarve" episode and if there is any movie to best remind us why the pairing had a hint of genius this is it.
I hope I manage to find a copy to buy in the UK, but am also grateful that it is hard to get my hands on one. This movie like my "Lamb Lies Down on Broadway" or "Queen 1" LP is that much more enjoyable because it is mine and not the property of mainstream commercialisation ... However be sure you see it at least once when you can.
If you have seen the Brendon Frazer / Liz Hurley version of "Bedazzled" I
beg of you to check out the original version. Peter Cook and Dudley
an already famous comedy team brought their expertise to this film, a
reworking of the Faust legend.
Moore plays Stanley Moon, a grill cook at the Whimpy Burger, who is in love with Margaret Spencer (Eleanor Bron), a waitress there. When his attempt to go and ask for a date is thrarted by his own hesitation, he decides to end it all.
Enter George Spiggot a.k.a. The Devil (Peter Cook) who tells Stanley that he can be with Margaret, in exchange for his soul. Stanley agrees, and the rest of the film showcases Stanley's wishes and that there is no such thing as a sure thing.
The chemistry between Cook and Moore shows through as their script demonstrates. Bron is wonderful as Margaret, and Stanley Donen's direction only accents the well written script.
The only other big name in the supporting cast, Raquel Welch, projects sheer sexuality as Lilian Lust, the sexpot of the Seven Deadly Sins.
Concerning the remake, I wish it were more like the plotline of the original, because I think that Liz Hurley would have made a terrific Lilian Lust. Watch the two versions and you'll see.
All in all, you can't go wrong with the original. Check it out and enjoy.
P.S. Julie Andrews!!!!!!!!!!!!
I first saw the Hollywood remake of this movie a few years ago. I don't
remember much about it, except for the fact that I wasn't really
convinced by it. This evening however I saw the original version and I
really liked it.
Yes, it looks a little bit dated and the acting may not be the best you've ever seen, but the story is nice and timeless. It's about a man who is afraid to ask the girl of his dreams out for a date. In return for his soul the devil promises him to help him. He sells his soul and he gets 7 wishes. Of course the devil always knows how to fool the man by making his wishes not coming true the way he had imagined it.
I had a good time watching it and I really had a few good laughs. The humor may look a little bit innocent by today's standards, but I still prefer this kind of humor over what is considered as humor today by some (a man running with a dead deer around his body, getting hit by a truck for instance - part in Tom Green's Freddy Got Fingered). You may call me old fashioned (even though I'm only 26 years old), but sometimes I prefer the old kind of humor over the new kind.
Overall this movie looks a bit dated from time to time, but don't let that be a reason not to watch this movie. I'm quite sure you'll enjoy it. I did and I give it a 7.5/10 for it.
Bedazzled just gets better as the years go by, and especially after the fiasco of the Liz Hurley remake. This version was written by and stars Pete 'n' Dud, with Eleanor Bron as the soppy Margaret Spencer, waitress at Wimpy's, Barry Humphries (otherwise known as Dame Edna) as Envy, Raquel Welch as Lilian Lust ... through its segments relating to Stanley's wishes (the 'sophistate', the millionaire, the pop star, the fly on the wall, the leaping nun ...) it scores points on every level, as well as reflecting the time - the pop star segment is very Ready, Steady, Go, George Spiggott's club (like Cook's in real life but hopefully the real one was less sleazy), and of course, the depressing town street burger bar. It is a very funny film and a good vehicle for the leads (their other teaming in Hound of the Baskervilles misfired badly). And it is directed by Stanley Donen, who was partly responsible for a string of MGM movie musicals with Gene Kelly in the 1950s.
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