Bills changed twice a week: on Wednesdays (rock concert movies, “head” and cult stuff like El Topo or The Harder They Come) and Sundays (imports, “art” movies like Tropic of Cancer, or “serious” revivals like a block of James Dean). Back then, all of the theatres changed their programs on Wednesdays. That way they could generate some word of mouth for the weekend trade. When the movies turned to shit, they began opening on Friday to avoid word of mouth, and hoped that the public would fall for those costly promotional campaigns that continue to hypnotize the lemmings to this day.
On one weekend afternoon in 1974 or ‘75, we took in a matinee of Stanley Donen’s Bedazzled (1967)…it may have been playing with Polanski’s Repulsion for all I know. The Mini-Cinema programming ran in that direction. My friend Nelhydrea was eager to see Bedazzled—I’d never heard of it. I’d never heard of Stanley Donen or Peter Cook or Dudley Moore. Nor was I cognizant of its creative spin on Faust among short order cooks and waitresses toiling on the fringe of Swinging London, and the hipster Mephistopheles in tea-shades. Nelhydrea had been going on about the outrageous soundtrack by Moore, then a few years shy of his mainstream breakthrough via Arthur and 10. It’s strange to recall a time—when was it? three hundred years ago?—when every third or fourth month brought with it a new Dudley Moore movie.
Today I’ve hardly an ounce of objectivity when it comes to Bedazzled. Yes, I know that it’s dated…not too terribly, though. And a lot of it really isn’t all that funny. Well, maybe it’s a little funny. But I still have a fond memory of that screening thirty years ago, of cracking up when George couldn’t raspberry through his little fly lips, of my throbbing astonishment over Raquel Welch, and my respect for this movie that had the chops to hire Eleanor Bron, the woefully neglected comedic actress who was “a dead-eye shot, shooting” in Help!
(Just for the record, Bedazzled—the real one, not the counterfeit with Brendon Fraser—is criminally unavailable on DVD.)
Music from Bedazzled (mp3):
These two songs were downloaded from The Peter Cook Appreciation Society. If anyone can send Flickhead the rest of the soundtrack (which is no longer for sale), we’d be forever in your debt!