Bedazzled (1967 film)
Bedazzled is a 1967 British comedy DeLuxe Color film directed and produced by Stanley Donen in Panavision format. It was written by comedian Peter Cook and starred both Cook and his comedy partner 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.
UK theatrical release poster by Tom Chantrell
|Directed by||Stanley Donen|
|Produced by||Stanley Donen|
|Screenplay by||Peter Cook|
|Music by||Dudley Moore|
|Edited by||Richard Marden|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Box office||$1,500,000 (US/ Canada)|
Stanley Moon (Moore) works as a cook in a Wimpy's restaurant and is infatuated with the waitress Margaret Spencer (Eleanor Bron) but lacks confidence and is too socially inhibited to approach her. In despair at his life, he attempts suicide by hanging but is interrupted a man claiming to be the Devil, incarnated as George Spiggott (Cook). When Stanley accuses George of being delusional, he offers Stanley a "trial wish". Stanley wishes for a raspberry ice lolly, and George leaves to buy one from a nearby shop.
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. All of Stanley's wish scenes feature characters played by Peter Cook, George explaining that "There's a little of me in everyone." Stanley is told that blowing a raspberry will free him from the effects of a wish, if he changes his mind.
- Stanley first wishes to be more articulate. George Spiggott 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".
- In his second wish, Stanley wishes to be a multi-millionaire with Margaret as his "very physical" wife. She ignores him and his lavish gifts, instead having affairs with his friends.
- In the third wish, Stanley is a rock star. However, his fame is very short lived and he is usurped by a new band ("This year's most exciting discovery, Drimble Wedge and The Vegetation") whose lead singer (Cook) sings in a hypnotic, monotone voice about his disdain for anyone except himself ("You fill me with inertia"). Margaret, one of many entranced groupies, screams with excitement as she and other fans mob Drimble.
- Stanley comments in passing that he wishes he was "a fly on the wall" and George seizes on the opportunity to use this as Stanley's fourth wish. They both become flies on the wall in a morgue, where the police inspector is showing Margaret various dead bodies, hoping that she will identify one as Stanley. When the inspector invites Margaret to a vice squad party, Stanley launches an attack on him.
- Stanley wishes for a quiet life in the countryside, with children, and Margaret making the anniversary dinner. It soon becomes apparent, however, that Margaret is another man's wife. While deeply in love, even the attempt to consummate their affection drives both Stanley and Margaret into emotional agony.
- Stanley attempts to frame a sixth wish that George cannot ruin for him. 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 previously appeared in Cook and Moore's TV show Not Only... But Also). Margaret is also a nun in the order, but refuses to consider consummating their love as they are both women. Stanley attempts to escape the wish by blowing a raspberry, to no effect, and he returns to London to confront George.
- When Stanley tries to use his seventh wish, George reveals he has already used it: his trial wish for an ice lolly.
Ultimately, Spiggott spares Stanley eternal damnation because he has exceeded his quota of 100 billion souls and can afford to be generous. Stanley is duly returned to his old job and life, wiser and more clear-sighted. Spiggott ascends 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. Frustrated, 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!
- Peter Cook as George Spiggott / The Devil
- Dudley Moore as Stanley Moon
- Eleanor Bron as Margaret Spencer
- Raquel Welch as Lust / Lilian Lust
- Alba as Vanity
- Robert Russell as Anger
- Barry Humphries as Envy
- Parnell McGarry as Gluttony
- Danièle Noël as Avarice (as Daniele Noel)
- Howard Goorney as Sloth
- Michael Bates as Inspector Clarke
- Bernard Spear as Irving Moses
- Robin Hawdon as Randolph - Harp Teacher
- Michael Trubshawe as Lord Dowdy
- Evelyn Moore as Mrs. Wisby
Cook and Moore wrote Bedazzled's soundtrack, which was performed by the Dudley Moore Trio. 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 recorded several instrumental versions.
According to Fox records the film required $2,100,000 in rentals to break even and made $2,825,000 so made a comfortable profit.
The film was well received in the UK but had 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." Crowther does, however, compliment Donen for his "colorful and graphic" mise-en-scène. On the other hand, Roger Ebert compared the film's humour to that of Bob and Ray. He enthusiastically called Bedazzled's satire "barbed and contemporary ... dry and understated," and overall, a "magnificently photographed, intelligent, very funny film".
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. 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".
- Solomon (1989), p. 255.
- Solomon (1989), p. 231.
- "Big Rental Films of 1968". Variety. 8 January 1969. p. 15. Note that this figure is a rental accruing to distributors.
- "Bedazzled [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack] - Dudley Moore,The Dudley Moore Trio". AllMusic. Retrieved 15 June 2016.
- Lewis, John (17 April 2015). "Dudley Moore – from film scores to funk". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 June 2016.
- Silverman, Stephen M (1988). The Fox that got away : the last days of the Zanuck dynasty at Twentieth Century-Fox. L. Stuart. p. 327.
- Crowther, Bosley (11 December 1967). "The Screen: Son of Seven Deadly Sins". The New York Times. Retrieved 24 January 2019.
- Ebert, Roger (30 January 1968). "Bedazzled". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 24 January 2019.
- Pym, John, ed. (2008). Time Out Film Guide 2009. London, UK: Time Out/Ebury. p. 82.
- The Seventh Virgin Film Guide. London, UK: Virgin Books. 1998. p. 52.
- "Bedazzled (1967)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved 8 July 2019.