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Bedazzled (1967 film)

Bedazzled is a 1967 film written by and starring Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, retelling the Faust legend in the Swinging London of the 1960s. It was remade in 2000 under the same name.

Plot

Stanley Moon (Moore) is a dissatisfied introverted young man who works in a Wimpy's restaurant and admires, from afar, the waitress Margaret (Bron). Despairing of his unrequited infatuation, he is in the process of an incompetent suicide attempt, when he is interrupted by the Devil, incarnated as George Spiggott (Cook). Spiggott is in a contest with God, trying to be the first to gather 100 billion souls. If he achieves this first, he will be readmitted to Heaven.

In return for his soul, Spiggott offers Stanley seven wishes. Stanley consumes these opportunities in trying to satisfy his lust for Margaret (frequent Cook and Moore collaborator Eleanor Bron), but Spiggott twists his words to frustrate any consummation of desire. On the last occasion, he reincarnates Stanley as a nun in a convent: whilst being specific about nearly every other aspect of the wish, he had forgotten to specify his gender and vocation.

Spiggott fills the time between these episodes with acts of minor vandalism and spite, incompetently assisted by the personification of the seven deadly sins, most memorably Lust (Raquel Welch).

Meanwhile, Margaret finds the noose from Stanley's suicide attempt, as well as his suicide note, and accompanies a police inspector looking for signs of Stanley's corpse. The police inspector also seems to be interested in seducing Margaret, and is dismayed by Margaret's sudden interest in Stanley after his disappearance. He is a largely amoral character who searches for evidence of Stanley's suicide only so he can console and seduce Margaret.

Ultimately, Spiggott spares Stanley eternal damnation out of pity (and because he has exceeded his quota of 100 billion), and Stanley returns to his old job, wiser and more clear-sighted.

Spigott meanwhile is interviewed by God, rejected again. In the closing scene, Spiggott 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.

The wishes

  1. Stanley wishes to be more "articulate". George turns him into a talkative and somewhat pretentious intellectual. Margaret becomes an equally pretentious character, and enthusiastically agrees with all of Stanley's beliefs. They visit the zoo, where they encounter George collecting donations for "the Society for the Advancement of Depraved Criminals". Then they catch the bus back to Stanley's apartment. Stanley discusses Freud and Rousseau with Margaret, and, with the intent of seducing her, stresses the importance of breaking free from one's social and moral constraints.
  2. In this wish, Stanley is a "multi-millionare" and Margaret is his "very physical" wife.
  3. In the third wish, Stanley is a rock star. However, his fame is short lived, and is usurped by a newcomer called "Drimble Wedge and the Vegetations" (George). Margaret is a vapid and excitable groupie.
  4. Stanley becomes a fly-on-the-wall in a morgue, where the inspector is showing Margaret various dead bodies, hoping that she will identify one as Stanley. Stanley is injured by a can of fly spray, and exits the wish after some difficulty in blowing a raspberry.
  5. George promises Stanley a wish where he has a quiet life in the countryside, with children playing in the front yard of his house, and Margaret making the anniversary dinner. It soon becomes apparent, however, that Margaret is actually George's wife.
  6. Stanley attempts to dictate a wish that George cannot ruin, and wishes that he and Margaret were two pious people who lived in isolation from the "false glitter" of the big city and would always be together. Because Stanley doesn't specify the gender he wants to be in the wish, George turns him into a nun named Sister Luna (a play on Moon, Stanley's surname).
  7. It is revealed that Stanley has already wished for his seventh wish. Before signing the contract, George offers him any wish to prove that he is the Devil. Stanley wishes for a Frobisher and Gleeson Raspberry Ice Lolly. However, he is unaware that this counts as a wish until he is unable to escape his 6th wish.

Reception

Roger Ebert, in a review written early in his career, compared the film's humor 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.

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 compliment Donen for his "colorful and graphic" mise-en-scène.

Missing scene

At least one sequence did not make it into the final film, and it is unclear as to whether it even went before the cameras, although the scene is in a draft of the script held in the British Film Institute Library.

Before the opening titles, Stanley Donen was to sit in a director's chair and address the audience, expressing anger at having been signed-up to direct such a trivial piece. Donen then claims to have had a change of heart and is about to present us with a more worthy piece. Spiggott then rose from behind the chair, leaned forward, and murmurred in Donen's ear, "Just think of the money, Stanley..." The scene then segues in the film's opening credits.

Quotes

  • George Spiggott:
    • "Do hope this isn't an awkward moment." (after walking in on Stanley Moon's failed suicide attempt)
    • "You fill me with inertia." (spoken as musical performer Drimble Wedge)
    • "What terrible sins I have working for me. I suppose it's the wages."
    • (to Lust) "Pick your clothes up. You're due down at the Foreign Office." (a reference to the Profumo Affair)
    • (offering anything in exchange for Stanley's soul) "What would you like to be? Prime Minister? Oh, no, wait, I've already signed that deal."
    • "There was a time when I used to get lots of ideas — I thought up the Seven Deadly Sins in one afternoon. The only thing I've come up with recently is advertising."
    • "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 —" (also directed by Donen)
    • (To a pigeon about to fly over a man) "Release your doo-dahs."
    • "You realize that suicide's a criminal offense. In less enlightened times, they'd have hung you for it."
    • "Suicide, really — that's the last thing you should try."
    • (During a conversation about politics, a character with a severe speech impediment struggles to express a thought. Spiggot replies dismissively ...) "Well, that's easy for you to say."
    • "In the words of Marcel Proust — and this applies to any woman in the world — if you can stay up and listen with a fair degree of attention to whatever garbage, no matter how stupid it is, that they're coming out with, till ten minutes past four in the morning — you're in!"
    • (Regarding last minute repentance) "I lost Mussolini that way, all that work, then right at the end with the rope around his neck, he says, 'Scusi. Mille regretti,' and up he goes!"
    • "Everything I've ever told you's been a lie, including that."
  • Stanley Moon:
    • (reading Faustian contract) "I, Stanley Moon, hereinafter and in the hereafter to be known as 'The Damned' — The damned?!"

References

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