Bedazzled (1967 film)

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For the 2000 remake see Bedazzled (2000 film)
Bedazzled
Bedazzled 1967 film.jpg
Bedazzled 1967 film poster
Directed by Stanley Donen
Produced by Stanley Donen
Screenplay by Peter Cook
Starring Peter Cook
Dudley Moore
Eleanor Bron
Raquel Welch
Music by Dudley Moore
Cinematography Austin Dempster
Edited by Richard Marden
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • 10 December 1967 (1967-12-10) (US)
Running time
103 minutes
Country UK
Language English
Budget $770,000[1]
Box office $1,500,000 (US/ Canada)[2][3]

Bedazzled is a 1967 British comedy film directed and produced by Stanley Donen. It was written by and stars Peter Cook and Dudley Moore. It is a comic retelling of the Faust legend, set in the Swinging London of the 1960s. The Devil (Peter Cook) offers an unhappy young man (Moore) seven wishes in return for his soul, but twists the spirit of the wishes to frustrate the man's hopes.

Plot[edit]

Stanley Moon (Moore) works in a Wimpy's restaurant and is infatuated with the waitress Margaret Spencer (Eleanor Bron). In despair he attempts suicide but is interrupted by the Devil, incarnated as George Spiggott (Cook).

Spiggott is in a game with God, trying to be the first to gather 100 billion souls. If he achieves this first, he will be readmitted to Heaven. He is also busy with minor acts of vandalism and spite, helped by his staff of the seven deadly sins, notably Lust (Raquel Welch) and Envy (Barry Humphries).

In return for his soul, Spiggott offers Stanley seven wishes. Stanley uses these trying to satisfy his love for Margaret, but Spiggott twists his words to frustrate him.

  1. Stanley wishes to be more "articulate". George turns him into a talkative and pretentious intellectual with a strong Welsh accent. Margaret becomes an equally pretentious character, who enthusiastically agrees with all of Stanley's beliefs. Stanley stresses the importance of breaking free from one's social and moral constraints. When Stanley makes his move, however, she is horrified and starts screaming "rape".
  2. In this wish, Stanley is a "multi-millionaire" and Margaret is his "very physical" wife, but it turns out she is "very physical" with anyone except him ... including George.
  3. In the third wish, Stanley is a rock star. However, his fame is short lived, and is usurped by a new band whose lead singer (George) sings flatly about his disinterest in anyone except himself. Margaret is a vapid and excitable groupie, as happy to admire one as the other.
  4. Stanley comments that he wishes he was "a fly on the wall" and George seizes on the opportunity to use up one of Stanley's wishes. They become flies on the wall in a morgue, where the inspector is showing Margaret various dead bodies, hoping that she will identify one as Stanley.
  5. George promises Stanley a wish where he has a quiet life in the countryside, with children, and Margaret making the anniversary dinner. It soon becomes apparent, however, that Margaret is actually George's wife. While deeply in love, even the attempt to consummate their affection drives both Stanley and Margaret into emotional agony.
  6. Stanley attempts to frame a wish that George cannot ruin: He wishes that he and Margaret loved one another, lived away from the big city, and would always be together. However, George turns him into a nun of the Order of Saint Beryl, or the Leaping Beryllians, who glorify their founder by jumping on trampolines (expanding on a sketch that appeared in Cook and Moore's Not Only... But Also). Margaret is also a nun in the order, but refuses to consummate their love as they are both women.
  7. When Stanley tries to use his seventh wish, George reveals he has already used it: Before signing the contract, George offers him something to prove he is the Devil, and Stanley asked for a raspberry ice lolly. Stanley was unaware that this counted as a wish until he is unable to escape his sixth wish.

Ultimately, Spiggott spares Stanley eternal damnation because he has exceeded his quota of 100 billion and can afford to be generous. Stanley is returned to his old job and life, wiser and more clear-sighted. Spiggott goes to Heaven to meet God, but is rejected again; St Peter (Lockwood West) explains that when he gave Stanley back his soul, Spiggott did the right thing, but with the wrong motive.

In the closing scene, Stanley and Margaret are back in the restaurant. Stanley finally asks her out but she says she's already doing something, though she does suggest perhaps another night. Stanley smiles, happy that he has found the courage to talk to her. Spiggott tries to entice Stanley again, but Stanley turns him down. Spiggott leaves and threatens revenge on God by unleashing all the tawdry and shallow technological curses of the modern age:

"All right, you great git, you've asked for it. I'll cover the world in Tastee-Freez and Wimpy Burgers. I'll fill it full of concrete runways, motorways, aircraft, television and automobiles, advertising, plastic flowers and frozen food, supersonic bangs. I'll make it so noisy and disgusting that even you'll be ashamed of yourself. No wonder you've so few friends — you're unbelievable!"

Soundtrack[edit]

Cook and Moore wrote Bedazzled's soundtrack, which was performed by the Dudley Moore Trio.[4] The title track, Moore's best known song, was performed in the movie by the fictional psychedelic rock band Drimble Wedge and the Vegetations. The piece has since been covered widely, including performances by Tony Hatch and Nick Cave. Moore himself recorded several instrumental versions.[5]

Reception[edit]

The film gained mixed reviews in the United States. Bosley Crowther of The New York Times called it a "pretentiously metaphorical picture" which becomes "awfully precious and monotonous and eventually ... fags out in sheer bad taste."[6] Crowther does, however, compliment Donen for his "colorful and graphic" mise-en-scène.[6] On the other hand, Roger Ebert compared the film's humour to that of Bob and Ray. He called Bedazzled's satire "barbed and contemporary ... dry and understated," and overall, a "magnificently photographed, intelligent, very funny film.".[7]

The unattributed and undated review in the Time Out Film Guide 2009 describes the film as a "hit and miss affair" which is "good fun sometimes", but suffers from a "threadbare" plot.[8] The Virgin Film Guide says "Cook and Moore brilliantly shift from character to character with just a change of voice (not unlike Peter Sellers), and the movie never flags".[9]

Film aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gave it 81% by critics and 65% by audience.[10]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Solomon, Aubrey. Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History (The Scarecrow Filmmakers Series). Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1989. ISBN 978-0-8108-4244-1. p255
  2. ^ "Big Rental Films of 1968", Variety, 8 January 1969 p 15. Please note this figure is a rental accruing to distributors.
  3. ^ Solomon, Aubrey. Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History (The Scarecrow Filmmakers Series). Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1989. ISBN 978-0-8108-4244-1. p231
  4. ^ "Bedazzled [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack] - Dudley Moore,The Dudley Moore Trio | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 2016-06-25. 
  5. ^ Lewis, John (2015-04-17). "Dudley Moore – from film scores to funk". the Guardian. Retrieved 2016-06-25. 
  6. ^ a b The Screen: Son of Seven Deadly Sins: Bedazzled, by Moore and Cook, an 11 December 1967 review from The New York Times
  7. ^ Review of Bedazzled, from Roger Ebert, published 30 January 1968
  8. ^ John Pym (ed) Time Out Film Guide 2009, London: Time Out/Ebury, 2008, p.82
  9. ^ The Seventh Virgin Film Guide, London: Virgin Books, 1998, p.52 (The American edition was published by Cinebooks.)
  10. ^ "Bedazzled (1967) Movie Reviews". Rotten Tomatoes. IGN Entertainment. Retrieved 2012-05-25. 

External links[edit]