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Bedazzled

Bedazzled is a modern-day (well, 1967) telling of the story of Faust in which a nobody is given his chance at spectacular success in exchange for his soul. For short-order cook Stanley Moon, who moons over Margaret, a waitress at the diner where he works, the chance is irresistable. He was about to kill himself anyway, and when the Devil in the form of George Spiggott enters the scene, Stanley jumps at the chance.

Bedazzled Naturally, nothing turns out the way he wants it; he's given seven wishes by his new friend George, but each of the wishes turns out to have unforeseen consequences which makes Moon's new life untenable. In each situation he's given the option of backing out of the deal by loudly uttering a raspberry (pphhhhhbbbtt!) which will instantly teleport back to his previous state. The climax of the story, of course, comes with the moral that, even were we to get what we wanted, we may find out that it isn't what we bargained for: life has a way of introducing unexpected plot twists that tend to screw us up. By the end of the film, George has gathered enough souls to get back into Heaven, and as a last act of kindness (though still a selfish one - he's still trying to sway God) gives Stanley back his soul and his old life. The Devil himself is hoodwinked, however, and denied entry to Heaven; he tries to go back and get Stanley's soul, but Stanley has learned his lesson and prefers to take his chances in his own way - even screwing up the courage to ask Margaret out for a date.

Bedazzled is a nice, low-key 60's comedy which is notable for several reasons. First, it stars Dudley Moore as Stanley - decades before he gained widespread fame in the film Arthur - and Peter Cook, who although largely unknown to American audiences, was considered one of the giants of postwar comedy in Britain. At university, Cook and Moore, along with Alan Bennett and Jonathan Miller, created the comedic stage show Beyond the Fringe, which was well received. After bouncing around different comedy gigs for a time (with Moore also playing piano in a jazz combo), the pair came to television in 1965 with their sketch show Not Only... But Also..., which featured the two playing several different characters, including Pete and Dud, two working-class schlubs who elicit several-minutes-long monologues on various topics. (Another popular sketch from the show was Superthunderstingcar, a parody of the then-popular Gerry Anderson puppet shows, particularly Supercar.)

Another reason to watch Bedazzled is its setting - London and its environs during the height of the swinging 60's. Although the film doesn't quite dwell on then-current youth fashions, there are details dropped here and there - exotic automobiles, flash clothes, etc. - that stand out to the careful viewer. The Devil runs his own little nightclub, so we get to see some authentic go-go dancing, but we also get a look at workaday life in both the city and the country of the time.

Comedian Barry Humphries shows up as a catty version of Envy (Satan has embodiments of the seven deadly sins working as his employees); Raquel Welch plays [Lillian] Lust, who nearly seduces Moon whilst wearing a skimpy bikini (and looks REALLY good). Lust has her own memorable theme song, suitably languorous, which even now occasionally pops up on lounge-centered Internet radio stations; it was performed by Moore's jazz combo, which also did the movie's theme song (performed in the film by Cook on a mock-Hullabaloo TV show, backed by a trio of slinky young dancers). The song contains a phrase which came to be associated with Cook, "You fill me with inertia."

Eleanor Bron plays Margaret, Stanley Moon's crush. Bron has been involved with British comedy for since the mid-60's, and is an easily recognized and respected figure in the genre. (She can be seen in Absolutely Fabulous playing Patsy Stone's singularly uncaring hippie mother.)

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