Bedazzled (1967 film)  

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Quotes:

The Devil: 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.

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...

Stanley Moon: [reading Faustian contract] "I, Stanley Moon, hereinafter and in the hereafter to be known as 'The Damned' - The damned?" -


While living in England Stanley Donen became a fan of the British variety show Beyond the Fringe and wanted to work with the show's comedy duo Peter Cook and Dudley Moore. The resulting film was Bedazzled, an updated version of the Faust legend in 1967. It was written by Cook with music by Moore, and also starred Eleanor Bron and Raquel Welch. Moore plays a lonely young man whose unrequited love of his co-worker (Bron) drives him to attempt suicide. Just then the devil (Cook) appears and offers him seven wishes in exchange for his soul. The film's fun-loving association with the Swinging London of the 1960s divided critics, but Roger Ebert called its satire "barbed and contemporary ... dry and understated", and overall, a "magnificently photographed, intelligent, very funny film." On the other hand, Time magazine called it the feeblest of all known variations on the Faust theme. The film was a hit and was especially popular among American college students. Donen considered it a favorite among his own films and called it "a very personal film in that I said a great deal about what I think is important in life." It was remade as Bedazzled by director Harold Ramis in 2000.

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Bedazzled is a 1967 British comedy film directed and produced by Stanley Donen. 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.

Plot

Stanley Moon (Moore) is a dissatisfied introverted young man who works in a fast-food 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 one occasion, he reincarnates Stanley as a nun: 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

Most (and arguably all) of the wishes that George grants to Stanley take the form of pocket universes or alternate realities. In these realities, Margaret's personality is perverted or distorted in some way, while George is also altered, appearing as a piece of background or a foil to Stanley's plans. Stanley's personality is distorted, much like Margaret's, though he is conscious of the fact that he is solipsistically living out one of his 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. Sexual tension develops between them when they relax in Stanley's apartment, with Margaret becoming seemingly aroused by Stanley's music collection and the fabric of his woven tie. However, even though she agrees with Stanley that people must act on their sexual desires, she begins screaming when he tries to initiate sexual intercourse, suggesting that she doesn't live by the values that she claims to believe in.
  2. In this wish, Stanley is a billionaire and Margaret is his "very physical" wife. Unfortunately, she has no more sexual interest in Stanley than in the past wish, and constantly flirts with her well-built music teacher, Randolph. Stanley is slowly tortured by her flirtations, and eventually snaps when he catches her with George.
  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 Vegetation" (George). Margaret becomes 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.
  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, and that she is having an illicit affair with Stanley, who is George's best student. Both Stanley and Margaret feel guilty about having an affair behind George's back, and they are unable to have sex.
  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). He encounters Margaret, who has a lesbian attraction towards him/her.
  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.




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