Bedazzled is a 1967 British comedy film directed and produced by Stanley Donen. It was written by and stars Peter Cook and Dudley Moore. It is a comic retelling of the Faust legend, set in the Swinging London of the 1960s. The Devil (Peter Cook) offers an unhappy young man (Moore) seven wishes in return for his soul, but twists the spirit of the wishes to frustrate the man's hopes.
Stanley Moon (Moore) is a dissatisfied introverted young man who works in a Wimpy's restaurant and admires, from afar, the waitress Margaret (frequent Cook and Moore collaboratorEleanor Bron). Despairing of his unrequited infatuation, he is in the process of an incompetent suicide attempt, when he is interrupted by the Devil, incarnated as George Spiggott (Cook). Spiggott is in a contest with God, trying to be the first to gather 100 billion souls. If he achieves this first, he will be readmitted to Heaven.
In return for his soul, Spiggott offers Stanley seven wishes. Stanley consumes these opportunities in trying to satisfy his lust for Margaret, but Spiggott twists his words to frustrate any consummation of desire. On the last occasion, he reincarnates Stanley as a nun in a convent: whilst being specific about nearly every other aspect of the wish, he has forgotten to specify his gender and vocation, and Spiggott mischievously takes full advantage of that.
Spiggott fills the time between these episodes with acts of minor vandalism and petty spite, incompetently assisted by the personification of the seven deadly sins, notably Lust (Raquel Welch) and Envy (Barry Humphries).
Meanwhile, Margaret finds the noose from Stanley's suicide attempt, as well as his suicide note, and accompanies a police inspector looking for signs of Stanley's corpse. The police inspector also seems to be interested in seducing Margaret, and is dismayed by Margaret's sudden interest in Stanley after his disappearance. He is a largely amoral character who searches for evidence of Stanley's suicide only so he can seduce Margaret.
Ultimately, Spiggott spares Stanley eternal damnation out of pity (and because he has exceeded his quota of 100 billion), and Stanley returns to his old job, wiser and more clear-sighted. Spiggott then goes to Heaven to meet God, but is rejected again, and St Peter explains that when he gave Stanley back his soul, Spiggott did the right thing for the wrong motive (making himself feel better than someone else).
In the closing scene, Stanley and Margaret are back in the restaurant. Stanley asks her out, but she says she has plans. Spiggott tries to entice Stanley again, but Stanley turns him down. Spiggott leaves and threatens revenge on God by unleashing all the tawdry and shallow technological curses of the modern age:
- "All right, you great git, you've asked for it. I'll cover the world in Tastee-Freez and Wimpy Burgers. I'll fill it full of concrete runways, motorways, aircraft, television and automobiles, advertising, plastic flowers and frozen food, supersonic bangs. I'll make it so noisy and disgusting that even you'll be ashamed of yourself. No wonder you've so few friends — you're unbelievable!"
- Stanley wishes to be more "articulate". George turns him into a talkative and somewhat pretentious intellectual with an exaggerated Welsh accent. Margaret becomes an equally pretentious character, and enthusiastically agrees with all of Stanley's beliefs. They visit the zoo, where they encounter George collecting donations for "the Society for the Advancement of Depraved Criminals". Then they catch the bus back to Stanley's apartment. Stanley discusses Freud and Rousseau with Margaret, and, with the intent of seducing her, stresses the importance of breaking free from one's social and moral constraints. When Stanley makes his move, however, she is horrified and starts screaming "rape", revealing that all the talk was only ego-preening.
- In this wish, Stanley is a "multi-millionaire" and Margaret is his "very physical" wife, but it turns out she is "very physical" with anyone except him ... including George.
- In the third wish, Stanley is a rock star, singing out passionately for affection. However, his fame is short lived, and is usurped by a newcomer called "Drimble Wedge and the Vegetation" (George) who sings drably about his disinterest in anyone except himself. Margaret is a vapid and excitable groupie. Probably a parody of the British Psychedelia movement and artists like Syd Barrett.
- Stanley offhandedly comments that he wishes he was "a fly on the wall" and George seizes on the opportunity to use up one of Stanley's wishes. The cook literally becomes a fly on the wall in a morgue, where the inspector is showing Margaret various dead bodies, hoping that she will identify one as Stanley. Stanley is injured by a can of fly spray, and exits the wish after some difficulty in blowing a raspberry.
- George promises Stanley a wish where he has a quiet life in the countryside, with children playing in the front yard of his house, and Margaret making the anniversary dinner. It soon becomes apparent, however, that Margaret is actually George's wife. While deeply in love, even the attempt to consummate their affection drives both Stanley and Margaret into emotional agony.
- Stanley attempts to dictate a wish that George cannot ruin, and wishes that he and Margaret were two pious people who lived in isolation from the "false glitter" of the big city and would always be together. However, because Stanley doesn't specify the gender he wants to be in the wish, George turns him into a nun named Sister Luna (a play on Moon, Stanley's surname), a Sisters of the Order of Saint Beryl, or Leaping Beryllians, who glorify their founder by jumping on trampolines (expanding on a sketch that appeared in Cook and Moore's Not Only... But Also).
- It is revealed that Stanley has already wished for his seventh wish. Before signing the contract, George offers him any wish to prove that he is the Devil. Stanley wishes for a Frobisher & Gleason raspberry ice lolly. However, he is unaware that this counts as a wish until he is unable to escape his sixth wish.
The film gained mixed reviews in the United States. Bosley Crowther of The New York Times called it a "pretentiously metaphorical picture" which becomes "awfully precious and monotonous and eventually ... fags out in sheer bad taste." Crowther does, however, compliment Donen for his "colorful and graphic" mise-en-scène. On the other hand, Roger Ebert compared the film's humour to that of Bob and Ray. He called Bedazzled's satire "barbed and contemporary ... dry and understated," and overall, a "magnificently photographed, intelligent, very funny film.".
The unattributed and undated review in the Time Out Film Guide 2009 describes the film as a "hit and miss affair" which is "good fun sometimes", but suffers from a "threadbare" plot. The Virgin Film Guide says "Cook and Moore brilliantly shift from character to character with just a change of voice (not unlike Peter Sellers), and the movie never flags".
Film aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gave it 81% by critics and 65% by audience.
At least one sequence did not make it into the final film, and it is unclear as to whether it was ever actually shot, although the scene exists in a draft of the original script held in the British Film Institute Library.
Before the opening titles, Stanley Donen sits in a director's chair and addresses the audience directly, expressing anger at having been signed-up to direct such a trivial and inconsequential piece. Donen then claims to have had a change of heart and is about to present us with a more worthy piece. Peter Cook, as the character of Spiggott, then rises slowly from behind the chair, leans forward, and murmurs in Donen's ear, "Just think of the money, Stanley..." The scene then segues in the film's opening credits.