Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Bedazzled (1967) (3 Stars)

Today is the first time I've watched the original version of "Bedazzled" for at least 40 years. I could only remember one scene from the film, the one in the poster above: Raquel Welch writhing sensually in her underwear while Dudley Moore lay in bed.

If you look at the posters and the DVD covers for "Bedazzled", they all feature Raquel Welch. If you're a Raquel Welch fan you'll be disappointed when you see the film. She appears for less than five minutes. Her prominence in the advertising materials is because when the film was made in 1967 she was being promoted as the world's most beautiful woman. I personally don't agree with that. I found other 1960's actresses more beautiful, such as Yutta Stensgaard and Valerie Leon. Nevertheless, Raquel's prominence in my memory is a testimony to her sexuality.

"Bedazzled" is a quaint comic retelling of the story of Goethe's "Faust". Stanley Moon, the cook in a Wimpy's restaurant, is offered seven wishes in exchange for his soul. He doesn't really need that many wishes. All that he wants is to be with Margaret, a waitress in the same restaurant. The problem is that he can't trust the Devil. Whenever he wishes for a perfect life with Margaret the Devil uses a loophole to spoil his happiness. For instance, in one of the wishes he asks to be rich and married to Margaret, which is granted, but he finds that Margaret doesn't love him. In each successive wish Stanley adds new stipulations to prevent the same things going wrong again, but the Devil outsmarts him, adding a new problem each time. Seven wishes aren't enough to give Stanley what he wants, and I dare to say that 70 wishes wouldn't be enough.

Peter Cook plays the Devil as a suave, likeable character, who prefers to call himself George. Dudley Moore plays Stanley, a naive, simple-minded character. It's difficult to understand how Stanley could be taken in by the Devil's lies. To me as a logical thinking man it's easy to see through him. Only a sexy female Devil like Elizabeth Hurley could tempt me into Hell.

What about Raquel Welch? She plays Lust, as the poster says. In the course of the film we meet the personifications of the seven deadly sins. That's why we hardly see her. She has to share screen time with the six other sins in between the wishes.

I suspect that my American friends will love "Bedazzled" because of its dry British humour. For me the film is dated. I enjoy the 2000 remake much more.

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