1967 Stanley Donen
film, written by Peter Cook
, starring Peter Cook
, Dudley Moore
, and Eleanor Bron
. Dudley Moore plays a short-order cook named Stanley who has a stunning crush
on Margaret (Bron). Stanley is ready to give up on his infatuation and end his own life
when who should show up but Satan
, Prince of Lies
)? Satan -- George
to his friends -- wants to help Stanley out, give him seven wishes
(in accordance with the mystic rules of life: Seven Deadly Sins
, Seven Days of the week
, Seven Seas
, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
...) in exchange for something barely significant that he'll hardly even miss: his immortal soul
Stanley, of course, agrees.
His wishes begin with the magic words "Julie Andrews" and, if anything should go wrong, Stanley merely needs to blow a raspberry and everything will be returned to normal. Each of Stanley's wishes is guided more or less by a different personification of sin, and every wish is sabotaged at some point by George. With each subsequent wish, Stanley realizes how bleak his previous life was and slowly learns that the only way to achieve one's desires is through faith in self.
This movie is notable for several reasons. First off, the devil isn't portrayed as a fire-breathing beast -- instead, he's a slick guy in Ray Bans and a tux. He's not really the ultimate personification of evil, either. He's more of a Loki-esque childish prankster who spends his time putting "minor ventilation holes" in oil tankers, making prank calls, and causing parking meters to expire. He's not gathering souls for his own sinister purpose; rather, he has a side bet with God: first to a hundred billion souls wins. Cook is possibly one of cinema's finest Satans.
Raquel Welch as Lust is another great addition to the cast. One of the finest lines in the movie: "Can you hear my pores breathe?" The humor is dry and deadpan, and sometimes the premise wears a little thin, but there are many classic moments in this largely unheard of film.
I first caught this film on Encore one afternoon at probably the best scene in the film, which is Stanley's rock star wish. I had no idea what movie it was, and it became a quest for a while. When I was working at a nameless soulless chain record store, a co-worker and I were talking about trainspotter film buffs and record collectors, and the importance of having a quest, even something so petty as a rare record or obscure late-night film. I brought up Bedazzled and she looked at me with this sort of cosmic connection look in her eyes. I wish I could say that we were happily married, living in the suburbs, and loving our three beautiful children, but I quit and she moved to Portland. Still, though, Bedazzled, for me, respresents one of those rare, wonderful things that only really hip people know about.
There's an American remake out directed by Harold Ramis starring Brendan Fraser and Elizabeth Hurley, which I haven't seen and am only mildly excited about. Something tells me a lot has been lost in the translation, and this hasn't emerged as quite the gem the original is. Then again, few remakes do.