I've seen pretty much all of the big comedies that you are supposed to have seen, but somehow, Stanley Donen's Bedazzled has managed to elude me until now. I saw the remake back in 2000, and I am happy to the original is much, MUCH better.
Bedazzled is written by and starring the comedy duo of Dudley Moore and Peter Cook. It follows the journey of Stanley Moon (Moore), a lowly fry cook at Wimpy's, hopelessly in love with Margaret (Eleanor Bron), the waitress. Unable to work up the nerve to even talk to her, Moon is approached by none other than the devil himself (Peter Cook), who goes by the name of George Spiggott these days. In exchange for his soul, Spiggott will grant him seven wishes in order to win over Margaret.
Each wish rewrites reality and Stanley attempts to win over Margaret with his newfound advantages; as an intellectual, a rock star, a rich man, etc. Moon quickly realizes that every wish he makes comes at a price, as Spiggott exploits loopholes in his wording to make sure Stanley strikes out every time.
The three leads, Cook, Moore, and Bron, are all really great. Each time Stanley makes a wish, they effectively transform into different characters, so they each end up playing several. My favorite wish was when Stanley turns into a rock star. He dances around the stage, desperately screaming for love. All appears to be going well, Margaret is swooning for him. That is, until the next act begins, and Spiggott comes out and sings a song that comes across as effortlessly cool as Stanley's came across desperate. He wins the screaming girls over, and Stanley the rock star has lost out to the next big thing and fleeting nature of fame.
Also included in the cast are George Spiggott's employees, the seven deadly sins, which include cameos by Barry Humphries as Envy and Raquel Welch as Lust. She's all over the posters and ads for the movie even though she's only in two scenes.
I also love the banter between Cook and Moore. They had such great chemistry, and the movie demonstrates it. The movie is very smart and heavy with well written dialogue between the two of them. It isn't all dialogue, though. Moore shows off his physical comedic chops and there is plenty of silliness to go around. For example, whenever a wish goes bad and Stanley wants out, he has to blow a raspberry with his mouth. This provides for some pretty amazing comedy, as it gets funnier and funnier with each wish.
Bedazzled is hilarious. It's one of the all time great comedies. I thought I had seen them all. I wonder what else I've missed?