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At no time did I laugh during "Bedazzled," other than a few abbreviated
chuckles; but, regardless, I immensely enjoyed myself. My lack of
laughter cannot be blamed on the film, as I rarely laugh during
movies--I'm generally unemotive in all areas of life. But "Bedazzled"
isn't the kind of comedy one laughs at; it's more the kind that one
smiles at and thinks to himself "that's funny."
In the beginning, there's Stanley Moon (Dudley Moore), a fry cook who can't quite get the nerve to ask out a waitress, Margaret, whom he's developed a rather large crush on. He's so skittish around her, one doesn't know if he's sweating from nerves or from the stove. After a botched suicide attempt, Moon is visited by the Devil (Peter Cook)--dressed like Dracula from the neck down, and Roger McGuinn from the neck up. Satan offers Moon seven wishes, which Moon burns through attempting to land a reality where he and the waitress are happily ever after.
The film is split up into episodes, essentially, each being one of Moon's misguided wishes. Naturally, some are funnier than others. There are two that stand out as being above the rest: one in which Moon wishes to be a pop star--so Margaret will love him, flawless logic-- but is quickly brushed aside for the next big thing, which happens to be a psychedelic, pseudo-intellectual poetry reading. In the other, Moon is not specific enough in his request, yet again, and ends up a female nun who's attained the homosexual affection of Margaret, another nun.
Moore and Cook--also the film's two writers--are great in their respective roles and have a innate chemistry. A lot of actors have played the Devil, and in many different ways, but I'm partial to Cook's approach: a calm, flighty sociopath. And a lesser film would have made Moore's apprehensive Moon the butt of joke after joke, but rather, he's played and written with care and consideration--which makes the conclusion to the film work.
As funny as the film is, the concept runs out of steam after about an hour and begins repeating itself. Also, the philosophical babble about man, God and Satan wears thin, as the ideas don't go beyond anything you or I have though up in those twilight moments before falling asleep--assuming you're like me and ponder such things aimlessly.
A high-concept comedy, "Bedazzled" is charming, sometimes interesting and home to a combination of denser-than-usual humor and nuns bouncing on trampolines. However, it runs its joke into the ground, just managing to resurface slightly before the finish line. God is good, and so is this movie.
When I saw the Fraser/Hurley version at the cinemas in 2000 I had no
idea it was a remake. This, the original version from 1967 blends
classic British comedy with pre-Pythonesque humour.
Peer Cook tries to swindle Dudley Moore out of his soul by giving him seven wishes. The wishes all go wrong with varying degrees of amusement. I only burst out laughing once when Dudley is transformed into a nun. In between the wishes Rachael Welsh teases us as Lust while other familiar faces pass the camera before we've realised who they are. We sympathise with both the main characters. Will Dudley get his girl or will he live out his life in a habit? Will God take back Cook or will he just have a laugh?
It's very entertaining and stands up well against the remake. Not unmissable but worth your time.
Sadly, my first encounter with the Bedazzled movies was watching the
unfortunate Liz Hurley remake. I was a teen at the time and Liz Hurley
was one of the 'It' girls of the day (the days of Austin Powers and
Serving Sara). I loved the idea, and loved Hurley's devil, but that was
pretty much it. I never could stand Brendan Frazer and it always pains
me to watch him. A couple of years later, I accidentally watched the
original Pete & Dud film and I fell in love.
The story is pretty much the same. It's 1967, Stanley Moon (Dudley Moore) has a dead end job as a Wimpy's cook and is hopelessly in love with waitress Margaret Spencer (Eleanor Bron). Unable to muster the courage to ask her out, he attempts suicide but is stopped by George Spiggot aka. the Devil (Peter Cook), who grants him seven wishes in exchange for his soul. Moon agrees and all his wishes are fixated on winning Margaret's heart, however each wish is altered (courtesy of Mr Spiggot).
The movie's strongest point is its' screenplay, incredibly witty and brilliantly blasphemous at the same time. The screenplay is taken to another level with Cook and Moore's undeniable chemistry, and Cook's devil is cultured, smart, charming, very English and deliciously mean. Eleanor Bron is brilliant as the many incarnations of Margaret Spencer, playing each version with comedic brilliance. Raquel Welch, despite appearing for under 10 minutes throughout the film, gives an unforgettable performance as Lillian Lust, one of the personified seven sins. Equally unforgettable is Barry Humphries as the delightfully camp Envy who also makes an incredibly brief appearance.
A more personal reason I love this film is because I love the Sixties. This movie is essentially a time capsule of 1967, set in Swinging London - technically the epicentre of the decade's cultural movement. Perhaps unknowingly, the movie's makers portrayed everything wonderful about 1967 in just over 90 minutes. The London scenery, the cars, the Pete & Dud chemistry, the fashions, the sexuality, hippies, Julie Andrews... the movie has it all. But perhaps the ultimate 60's moment in this film is Stanley's pop star wish. He is transported to a TV studio in the style of 'Ready, Steady, Go' where his and Cook's performances are performed/filmed in the most 60's way possible: a crude elevated stage,a dancing teenage fan audience, leggy go-go girls, B&W screens with 60's TV effects, unusual/long band names a-la-1967 (Drimble Wedge & the Vegetation) and the very groovy titular song, composed by Moore and performed brilliantly by Cook.
I absolutely loved this film. I'm not sure if this movie will cater for everyone's tastes, but if you're into Pete & Dud, British wit, clever screenplays or the Sixties in general, then this movie is definitely worth watching.
What if The Devil were a smartass, lanky British dude instead of an
unspeakably evil fire-monster? What if God wasn't a bearded Abercrombie
& Fitch model but an invisible, booming disembodied voice who likes to
maniacally cackle in his spare time? What if Lust, one of the seven
deadly sins, was embodied by the curvaceous Raquel Welch? What if
okay, okay, I've given you plenty of what-ifs to let your imaginations
run wild; now, wrap all those what-ifs into a profitable ball of madcap
comedic energy and you'll get Bedazzled, one of the finest comedies of
the last 50 years.
It isn't funny haha like Airplane!, you might say, and it isn't trying to say something like the socially conscious Sullivan's Travels; Bedazzled is a collection of clever quips and dryly funny performances glued together with an insanely ingenious storyline that hits you with the force of a sexy wink from Linda Evangelista. It isn't anything other than consistently wicked and consistently engaging; yet comedy in the 1960s seems to be most attributed to Peter Sellers' greatest vehicles. But The Pink Panther series has its limits; Bedazzled, on the other hand, seems limitless. It may be tongue-in-cheek in its attitudes towards soul selling and heaven and hell's tricky relationship, but it is overtly serious when it comes to being unpredictable and quick. To call it underrated would be an understatement.
Dudley Moore, always an under-appreciated comedic talent, portrays Stanley Moon, a hapless fry cook hopelessly in love with his coworker, the lovely Margaret (Eleanor Bron). He has kept his feelings secret for years, and, too nervous to do anything about them, finally decides that he's much too miserable in life to continue going on. So, he ties a noose to his apartment's pipe, jumps, and well, the pipe breaks. But fear not; just as Stanley is about to lose hope once again, The Devil himself (Peter Cook) appears at his door, offering a sinful deal: if he grants Stanley seven wishes, then he, in return, will collect the poor man's soul. Stanley doesn't even hesitate - what does he have to lose? - and indeed goes through with The Devil's plan. All his wishes revolve around capturing Margaret's attention, but as The Bible has told us several times, you can't just trust the most vile force in the universe.
Like Sellers in Doctor Strangelove, Moore is given the chance to try on several personas and see where they go; when he wishes for eloquence in hopes to seduce Margaret with his mind, he adopts a smooth attitude and an intellectual Welsh accent to back himself up. When he asks The Devil to give him the swagger of a rock star, he really turns into a rock star, singing with the charisma of Roger Daltrey. Moore is so insanely versatile that awe is the only emotion that seems to come out of us; the fluctuations in his performances are so subtle that you have to remind yourself just how much talent it takes to switch characterizations back and forth so many times in a single movie.
But if I've made the film sound like a fantasy romp with a stellar performance at its core, that only scratches the surface. Cook, as much as Moore, can spit out adept pieces of dialogue with the wit of the most seasoned of comedians (an increasingly impressive feat considering much of the film is improvised), and Stanley Donen, most known for his musical features (Singin' in the Rain, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers) keeps up with the forward thinking ideals of filmmaking in the 1960s, providing Bedazzled with a solid foundation while also giving it room to go off- the-rails when it needs to. Films like Bedazzled work so well not just because of the talent involved; they work so well because everything they do is funny, existing in a parallel universe comprised of remarkably backwards humor. Along with Raquel Welch's sex appeal, it hasn't aged a bit.
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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I found this one on Netflix streaming movies. I've seen the 2000
re-make with Brendan Fraser, but was unaware of this, the original,
until two days ago. Naturally a movie made in 1967, coincidentally the
year I graduated from college, will have a totally different look and
sensibility. Plus this one was set and made in England, using pretty
typical British humor, while the re-make is set and made in the USA.
Dudley Moore, who also did the music and co-wrote the script, is Stanley Moon, lowly short order cook in a London dive. He longs for the waitress, but as a small, shy person can only wish from afar.
Fret not, along comes Peter Cook as George Spiggott, aka The Devil. He is a rather pleasant chap, but after all these thousands of years wants to get back into God's good graces, and to do so needs to recruit souls. He bargains for Stanley's.
Eleanor Bron plays the waitress Margaret . Sex symbol Raquel Welch plays Lust (Lilian Lust). Other actors play characters such as Vanity, Anger, Envy, Gluttony, Avarice, and Sloth , the seven deadly sins.
Both the original and the re-remake use the same general approach, the dEVIL will grant 7 wishes, so that he can get the girl, but each situation isn't exactly a good result. The two versions of the movie use totally different circumstances.
An entertaining movie, and a nice blast from the past. It was good to see Moore in an early role.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Peter Cook and Dudley Moore worked together in a variety of media for a
long time. Their double act was extremely successful on stage and TV
(and also on long playing record) where the sketch format was used:
this format suited them. Their movie work was far less successful, and
I suspect that a large part of this was because what worked in sketches
was much more difficult to sustain for a whole movie.
The first joy of Bedazzled is that, like Monty Python's Holy Grail, it pulls off the trick of hanging a series of sketches in a linking narrative so that the fact that it is, essentially, a feature length sketch show is cleverly disguised.
The second joy is that the linking narrative - an updating of Faust, whereby Dudley Moore's loser griddle cook is put through the mincer by Peter Cook's amiable but merciless devil - works perfectly, as do most of the episodes illustrating Moore's wishes.
Although this is very much a product of the era in which it was made, it is still a very good film, and repays the time spent in watching it.
Time has had a little effect on this comedy - the fashions, pop culture references for one thing, though the risque humor is nowhere as jabbing as cinematic humor gets these days. Neverless, it's still very watchable today; it's still fast-paced, has a number of funny moments, and has two wonderful lead performances. Don't miss it.
Besides the deft humor (some of it is best appreciated by those who are
familiar with Britain of the '60s or the UK in general) there is
entertaining music (written by Dudley Moore), some plot twists, and
most surprisingly a moral message that can be taken away along with the
humor and the music.
The 2000 Bedazzled is quite different and more uneven.
Oh, and there's Raquel Welch as Lust. Not exactly playing against type.
The cast is uniformly excellent. For some reason this film is rarely seen on television and it is not easily found in video stores in either tape or DVD form.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
If ever a movie depicted the golden decade, this one surely does. It
embodies all of the anarchic playfulness, the growing contempt for -
and willingness to question - any authority (in this case, even God),
and the tremendous rush of optimism manifest by pop culture and bright,
colourful fashion. As the saying goes - if you weren't there, you're
Peter Cooke and Dudley Moore were at the height of their clownish powers, with Dudley playing the hapless nobody, Stanley Moon, and Peter a droll and world-weary devil. Stan unwittingly invokes his help in resolving a romantic dilemma. The devil responds with seven wishes in exchange for his soul; but being the devil, he inevitably reneges on each one. And so the fun begins.
It would be asking much of a movie so steeped in the culture of the time - especially comic culture - not to have dated after 40 years, and there are odd times when its fraying hem becomes visible. However, the problems of desire, disappointment, temptation and corruption are themselves timeless (as indeed are burst shopping bags and pigeon crap) so we can still empathise with, and laugh out loud, at the plight of our would-be hero. Some of the scenarios into which Dudley finds himself plunged by his winsome tempter are at times hilarious and wretched. He can only escape each of them by blowing a raspberry, and moving on to the next. Sight gags abound and there are many memorable but throwaway one-liners.
One suspects that the characters of Dud and Peter actually depict their true life relationship, with an overbearing Cooke constantly using Moore as the butt of his capricious humours.
This is a slice of pure 1960's, as authentic as Ronnie Biggs, The Italian Job, miniskirts and picket-lines. It also contains two of Britain's best comedians of their time, with some quite amazing cameos, not least of which is Raquel Welsh as 'Lust', in the role one might say she was born to play. 'Bedazzled' is one of my favourite British comedies. It is wry, sly, witty and also unexpectedly poignant. Colours on the DVD remain as vibrant as Mary Quant stockings.
If you're a baby-boomer, then the mere mention of 'Bedazzled' will bring a nostalgic grin to your face. But if you were born too late, then one or two scenes may seem a little passe. On both counts I'm sorry for you.
I've never been a fan of either Dudley Moore or 60s British humor, so
I'm surprised I found this movie to be as entertaining and hilarious as
it is. It specializes in the droll kind of humor where it may take you
a few seconds to get the joke. In recent years it has become a cult
favorite due to the difficulties in finding a copy. The VHS is long out
of print and it has yet to be released commercially to DVD, which is
really a shame. This is one of the funniest films of the decade.
I'm going to go out on a limb and say that Peter Cook was the best British comedian of his generation, and he's absolutely perfect in this film. As the devil, he gets so many great and quotable lines (my favorite being "You realize that suicide's a criminal offense. In less enlightened times they'd have hung you for it.") As fodder for such a brilliant comic performance, Dudley Moore equips himself very well and turns in a very likable performance of the ultimate nebbish loser. It's the human elements his character contributes that makes the film work so well. As Lilian Lust, Raquel Welch most certainly looks the part. Plus, the direction by Stanley Donen is incredibly stylish and much more interesting and innovative than you'd expect it to be. The surrealistic touches (particulary the nuns on the trampoline) work very nicely also.
The film isn't flawless by any means. Its never outright boring, but a few segments seem to drag a bit (notably the intellectual sequence) and it could've been trimmed by ten or fifteen minutes. Also, due to being a product of the times it inevitably dated a bit. Luckily, these slight complaints certainly do not detract from the film being an overall very enjoyable and refreshing comedy. (8/10)
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