Time to give the Devil his due. One of my favorite films ever is Stanley Donen’s 1967 farce Bedazzled, staring Peter Cook and Dudley Moore> (The two also wrote the screenplay.) The film takes Faust and puts it in the middle of swinging London. Dudley Moore is Stanley Moon, a sad little fry cook at Wimpy’s Hamburgers who trades his soul to Peter Cook‘s George Spiggott (aka The Devil) after a failed suicide attempt. All Stanley wants is for the girl of his dreams to fall in love with him. But, as the story goes, the Devil twists his words, only technically giving Stanley what he wished for, but not really.
Though the "granted" wishes are broad (One involving nuns and trampolines, couldn’t be broader or funnier), the best parts are in between — Stanley and George’s conversations about theology, morality, organized religion, and the nature of evil. "There was a time when I used to get lots of ideas," George tells Stanley. "I thought up the Seven Deadly Sins in one afternoon. The only thing I’ve come up with recently is advertising." (And in this film the Seven Deadly sins are personified. Raquel Welch plays Lust.)
This is the stuff that was entirely gutted from the 2000 remake starring Elizabeth Hurley and Brendan Fraser, and the less said about that the better. But it’s the only one most people even know about, partly because the original has never been released on DVD… until now. Out today, FOX has done a nice job with the disc, cleaning up the print and the audio, as well as including some from-the-time interviews, the trailer, photo stills, and a new interview with Harold Ramis who I’m hoping spends most of his time apologizing for directing the remake.
But even without extras, it would be worth buying. Apart from the nuns sequence, my favorite part is when Stanley wishes that girls would be screaming for him and suddenly we’re on the set of a pop music TV show like Shindig! or Top of the Pops. Dudley Moore belts out, Tom Jones-style, the pleading number "Love Me." The girls go wild. But no sooner than it’s done, the camera spins over to the other side of the stage where the Devil launches into his own song, "Bedazzled," (based on the same music as "Love Me") and the girls go even crazier, despite his emotionless read of lyrics like "You fill me with inertia." Fame is fickle.
Both songs were written by Dudley Moore (who wrote the movie’s soundtrack), with Peter Cook providing lyrics for "Bedazzled." The latter has been covered by Bongwater, Nick Cave & Anita Lane, Pussy Galore and others.
As a little bonus, here’s a song Cook & Moore actually released as a single, a parody of the trippy psychedelia of the day. Even though the voices were a dead giveaway, some people actually speculated it was The Beatles under a pseudonym.
There are clips of the movie on YouTube, but why spoil it for those who haven’t seen it. Instead, here is one of the DVD bonus features, an interview with George Spiggott himself: