US Release Date: 12-10-1967
Directed by: Stanley Donen
- Peter Cook, as
- George Spiggott/The Devil
- Dudley Moore, as
- Stanley Moon
- Eleanor Bron, as
- Raquel Welch, as
- Lilian Lust
- Alba, as
- Robert Russell, as
- Barry Humphries, as
- Parnell McGarry, as
- Daniele Noel, as
- Howard Goorney, as
- Michael Bates, as
- Inspector Clarke
- Robin Hawdon as
Raquel Welch is only in a few scenes, but you will remember them.
The British sense of humor has always been one that I have responded to. Bedazzled is a pre Monty Python comedy from the comedy team of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore. They wrote the screenplay, which is filled with humorous lines that would seem quite fitting in a Python film.
Moore plays Stanley Moon, a short order cook, who is in love with Margaret, a waitress who works with him. He is too scared to actually talk to her beyond taking orders. Depressed with his life, he tries to kill himself, He is saved by a stranger, George Spiggott, who introduces himself as the devil. He makes Stanley a deal that he will give him seven wishes in exchange for Stanley's soul.
All of Stanley's wishes are intended as ways to make Margaret his. He becomes an intellectual, then a pop star, then very wealthy. The funniest part is when he ends up a nun. Each wish fails horribly.
He also meets seven people representing the seven deadly sins. The best is Raquel Welch as Lust. She walks in on Stanley in bed and says such lines as, "Can you hear my pores breathe?" She then undresses down to her underwear and gets into bed with him. She serves him breakfast by leaning over him and asking,
"Hot toast - or buttered buns?" Welch looks great, but is only in a few scenes.
Cook once joked that they should have called the movie "Raquel Welch" instead of Bedazzled. That way, he explained, the marquee would read "Peter Cook and Dudley Moore in Raquel Welch."
Cook and Moore wrote some clever dialog. When Cook interrupts Moore trying to kill himself, he says, "You realize that suicide's a criminal offense. In less enlightened times they'd have hung you for it." At one point, Moon asks George, "Apart from the way He moves, what's God really like? I mean, what color is He?" George answers, "He's all colors of the rainbow, many-hued." Moon continues, "But he is English, isn't He?"
"Oh yes." answers George, "Very upper class."
My favorite line in the entire film is when Stanley wished to be rich and that Margaret be affectionate. Unfortunately she is affectionate with her harp teacher Randolph, who Margaret says to at one point, "I am so hot and sticky and Randy we must have a dip." If you like British humor, you will find yourself enjoying Bedazzled.
Dudley Moore and Peter Cook in Bedazzled.
In America, Dudley Moore is most famous for movies like Arthur and 10. Prior to his Hollywood success of the late 1970s and early '80s, he was one half of Peter and Dud, a comedy double act that extended back to 1960 when the two first met and performed in the satirical Beyond the Fringe in the West End and on Broadway. They appeared together in 3 seasons of the sketch comedy show Not Only...But Also on the BBC and made several films together. They remained friends but their careers would diverge, in part because of Cook's well documented alcoholism, which contributed to his untimely death in 1995 at just 57.
Eric, you mention the Pythonesque style of humor from before Python even existed and I agree. The Monty Python troupe has freely admitted to being fans of and being influenced by the duo and Peter Cook in particular. They would appear on stage together several times, most notably for the Amnesty International show, The Secret Policemen's Ball, and Cook would appear in the pseudo Python film, Yellowbeard. John Cleese, who would become friends with Cook, would say of him after his death that, "Most of us have to grind away for something like six or seven hours - that's what Chapman and I used to reckon - to produce three minutes of material, whereas for the first fifteen or twenty years of Peter's professional life it took him exactly three minutes to produce three minutes of material ....."
This film does contain some very funny moments. The best of them are when the two stars are interacting. Eric, you mentioned the wishes where Stanley is projected into different scenarios with the intention of wooing Margaret in each one of them, only they never work out. To me these are the weakest scenes in the film. They contains some funny bits, but generally they go on too long. The truly hilarious parts are in the real world when Stanley and George are wandering around London and the countryside as George causes minor annoyances for people and the two of them simply talk.
It's during one of those moments with just the two of them that they have the exchange about God being English, which is probably my favorite line in the whole movie. They have a great chemistry together, with Stanley the mousey timid one who you end up feeling sorry for while George is the confident huckster with enough charm to make up for all his lies. Just their conversations alone make this a movie worth watching. The jokes range from the obvious to the subtle, such as when George says, "What terrible sins I have working for me. I suppose it's the wages." An obvious reference to the Bible quote, "For the wages of sin is death".
Welch does indeed look good. In terms of physical form she is as close to perfection as it's possible to be. It's funny Eric that you mention Cook's line about naming the film Raquel Welch because when someone came up with the idea to remake this in 2000 they did something close to that when they cast Elizabeth Hurley, not as lust, but as the Devil, making her the star of the film. They replaced Dudley Moore with Brendan Fraser, because, you know, when you think of a short dweeby, insecure man, you naturally think of Brendan Fraser.
Stanley Donen as director is an odd choice. The American director of such classic musicals as On the Town, Singin' in the Rain, and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers isn't the most obvious fit for an English comedy. He does an okay job, but doesn't bring anything special to the production.
This isn't a perfect film, but it does contain some truly golden moments. And thanks to the BBC's habit of erasing video tapes of television shows in the 1960s, it is one of the best examples we have of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore working together from that time. It's worth watching just for that.
Dudley Moore and Peter Cook in Bedazzled.
I've always known how funny Dudley Moore could be, but before seeing this movie I had no idea how truly hilarious Peter Cook was. From the moment he makes his memorable entrance, “Good evening. I couldn't help noticing that you were making an unsuccessful suicide bid.” George Spiggott steals the movie and I agree wholeheartedly with Scott that the best scenes are the ones featuring Cook and Moore in conversation as Spiggott plays petty pranks on people. The following exchange is one of my favorites.
George Spiggott: “Everything I've ever told you has been a lie. Including that.”
Stanley Moon: “Including what?”
George Spiggott: “That everything I've ever told has been a lie. That's not true.”
Stanley Moon: “I don't know WHAT to believe.”
George Spiggott: “Not me, Stanley, believe me!”
There was something innately funny about Peter Cook's deadpan delivery. He doesn't do anything specific to emphasize the fact that he's going for laughs, he just IS funny. I laughed the hardest at his pop song parody. His monotone spoken word peformance as a rock star is priceless, “You fill me with inertia.” I also got a kick out of Satan's magic word, “Julie Andrews.”
Stanley Donen does seem rather an odd choice for director but I think he acquits himself well. Cook and Moore even managed to incorporate a joke that includes a reference to one of his films. When George explains the deal for Stanley's soul to him he says, “It's the standard contract. Gives you seven wishes in accordance with the mystic rules of life. Seven Days of the Week, Seven Deadly Sins, Seven Seas, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers...”
Raquel Welch was the sexiest woman on the planet in 1967 and that's coming from a gay man. She was to the Age of Aquarius what Marilyn Monroe had been to the Eisenhower years. She certainly fills out the role of Lust and makes the most of her few brief scenes.
I do agree with Scott that some of the gags go on a bit long. And I certainly see the Pythonesque influences in this pre-Monty Python movie. It even includes an animated sequence where Stanley and George become houseflies.
Until now I had never seen Bedazzled in either of its incarnations. I have no real desire to sit through the remake (although I'm sure I will someday) as I can't imagine it being anywhere near as funny as the original. This movie made me want to see more work by the comedy duo of Peter and Dud. Who knows, maybe someday they'll discover additional episodes of their old series that someone recorded at home.
Photos © Copyright Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation (1967)