Dazzled by Bedazzled (and filled with inertia)

April 26, 2019 | By

As shameful as it was, I’d never seen the original Bedazzled (1967) until last week, which means I’d never had a sampling of the brilliant satire and gift of creating sublime nonsense which Peter Cook and Dudley Moore had refined during the 1960s and early 1970s.

Prior to the film, the pair had already established reputations as pioneering comedians on stage and TV, and there’s a sense Cook and Moore form a bridge between the lunacy of Spike Milligan and his Goon Show colleagues, and the Monty Python troupe – each offering their own brand of silliness and pokes at politics and class divisions.

Harold Ramis’ 2000 remake with Brendan Fraser has its merits – the first half and first set of wishes are brilliant – but where the remake clearly heads to conventional confrontations and familiar resolutions, the original sometimes stops cold for pure social commentary, or nonsense.

Case in point is the Devil / George (Cook) and soulless Stanley (Moore) changing wardrobe from GPO phone technicians to tonic vendors, conning a granny into buying stock for a non-existent contest, and while she’s out of the house, devouring her fresh stock of berries with cream and sugar. It’s pure mischief, and a more genial equivalent to that classic moment in the original trailer for Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988) in which Michael Caine pushes a granny off a waterside walkway.

Twilight Time’s Blu-ray sports a superb transfer and Moore’s excellent score is isolated in a mono music & effects track (and probably contains a few cues not on he original soundtrack album).

There wasn’t time to do a full review of the loaded special edition DVD of Fox’s 2000 remake, but I note some overt differences between the two films, both of which hold their own in spite of sharing he same central story of a schnook who sells his soul to the Devil to gain the heart of a co-worker who barely acknowledges his existence.

Coming next: an interview with composer John Murphy and review of his latest project – the fine BBC mini-series of Victo Hugo’s bubbly, life-affirming, super-positive tale of love, Les Miserables.

Also in the works is a short podcast on the recent National Canadian Film Day and pioneering multi-hyphenate filmmaker Nell Shipman, and Kino Lorber’s new Blu-ray of Becky Sharp (1934). I’ve waited 27 years to see a restored version of the first feature shot in 3-strip Technicolor.

Now if I could only stop whistling the opening bars of Bedazzled‘s main titles…

Thanks for reading,

 

 

Mark R. Hasan, Editor
KQEK.com

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