In our continuing series of ‘47 Films to see before you’re murdered in your dreams’, we look at Pete and Dud’s Faustian comedy Bedazzled.
Peter Cook and Dudley Moore came out of the Oxbridge comedy scene, first achieving international fame with their participation in a satirical sketch show Beyond the Fridge, with Jonathan Miller and Alan Bennett. Moore, a talented musician, was offered a show by the BBC, but he felt the need for his chum to be involved and so Not Only (Dudley Moore) But Also (Peter Cook) was born. A forerunner and inspiration for Monty Python, only a few episodes have survived due to the BBC’s foresighted policy of taping over the original recordings to save money. Bedazzled was their first movie as writers and stars. Directed by Singing in the Rain director Stanley Donen, Bedazzled is a Faustian comedy of the swinging sixties. Wimpy short order cook, Moon (Moore) is given seven wishes with which to ensnare his love, singularly unattractive waitress Margaret (Eleanor Bron), by George Spiggot (Cook) also known as the Devil.
The format allows for seven sketches in which the Devil wittily out wits the hapless Moon by turning each wish to his own advantage and against the wisher. When Moon wants to attract Margaret to love him as a pop star, his desperate pleading song of love is outshone by the Devil’s cool number of complete indifference. Occasionally helped by the seven deadly sins – allowing for a jaw dropping cameo by Raquel Welch as Lust – the Devil is a sly ironic prankster, delighting in causing petty discomfort and with a pleasantly jaded view of the Brave New World of 1967. There’s nothing as sharp as their later manifestation of Derek and Clive, but Bedazzled is brilliantly clever and ceaselessly witty with both Moore and Cook at their best. Of course, Moore would go on to a kind of stardom that evaded the less camera friendly Cook, but his fans can at least satisfy themselves with Elizabeth Hurley’s wonderful impression of him in the remake of 2000.