directed by Stanley Donen
USA 1967

 

Films such as “A Star is Born” (1976), “The Vanishing” (1993), and “Psycho” (1998) exemplify the rubbish that generates Hollywood’s reputation for poor remakes. While it’s difficult to pinpoint precisely why remakes are often executed poorly, there’s bound to be relevance in an all-too-familiar cliché: “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

This problem is evident in Hollywood’s support of filmmaker Harold Ramis’s desire to rework Stanley Donen’s “Bedazzled” (1967) for modern American audiences. In 2000, Ramis and his co-writers Larry Gelbart and Peter Tolan devised a script that maintains the central Faustian tale while adjusting character dynamics and updating cultural references; obviously, the humor associated with Britain’s trends in the 1960s would be lost on today’s younger audiences. Ramis also assembled an attractive cast consisting of Elizabeth Hurley, Brendan Fraser, and Orlando Jones. Despite the consistency in plot and alluring cast, the result is an uninspired attempt at capturing the vitality and spirited comedy of British duo Peter Cook and Dudley Moore.

In one of many variations on the original script, Ramis alters the sex of Cook’s character George Spiggot (The Devil) to lengthen Hurley’s sensual and bikini-clad presence in his film. This is a decision consistent with Hollywood’s reckless and hasty attempts to attract male audiences. In Donen’s version, sexuality is restricted to the character of Lust, which capitalizes on actress Raquel Welch’s striking figure and popular reputation in North America. In this case, Donen’s wisdom and filmmaking experience afford logical decision-making and an awareness of audience intellect.

Donen’s career began as a choreographer for MGM studios in the early 1940s. Eventually, his impressive body of work encouraged executives to offer him the opportunity to co-direct “On the Town” (1949) with actor/dancer extraordinaire Gene Kelly. The pair worked together on a couple more popular films, which include “Singin’ in the Rain” (1952) and “It’s Always Fair Weather” (1955). Aside from generating a consistent profit with his films, Donen established a reputation for experimenting with new approaches to the musical genre. For instance, “On the Town” was the first Hollywood musical to emerge from the confines of Studio back-lots; previously, sound recording prevented location shooting. Additionally, in “Royal Wedding” (1951), Donen’s specially designed rotating set allowed Fred Astaire to defy gravity.

After considerable success in the musical genre, Donen shifted his focus towards comedies (“The Grass in Greener”) and light-hearted thrillers (“Charade” [1963]) where his keen sense for comedic staging worked to his advantage. Most notably, in the transition, Donen’s work became increasingly mature; while his work remained consistently optimistic, Donen relied less on physical gags and more on wit. Perhaps his most sensible contribution to “Bedazzled” is his guidance and control over the acting of Dudley Moore and Peter Cook--two comedians known for wild improvisation.

For Moore and Cook, “Bedazzled” was the opportunity to initiate a career in acting and showcase their flair for comedic writing. While the transition from television to film could have been risky, both embody their characters with an understated charisma. Donen may or may not have been aware of their versatility, but he cleverly exploits their natural personas--Moore as the charming and endearing everyman and Cook as the mysterious, but sophisticated dignitary. In an interview included on Fox’s recent DVD release of the film, Ramis expounds on these distinct characteristics in likening Moore to Paul McCartney and Cook to John Lennon. While the allusion is somewhat fanciful, Ramis is genuine is his estimation of the two comedians.

In general, Donen’s films may lack psychological depth and moral complexity, but “Bedazzled” succeeds on an intellectual level and as entertainment. Created during Donen’s most fruitful period, following “Two for the Road” (1967)--a sublime exercise in style, “Bedazzled,” like Richard Lester’s “Petulia” (1967), captures society’s fragmentation in the 1960s. Where Lester is concerned with class divisions, Donen explores the role of desire in human lives. For sheer film value, the recent DVD release is among the most exciting releases of 2007.

Kurtis Beard

Posters

Theatrical Release: December 10th, 1967

Reviews    More Reviews  DVD Reviews

DVD Review: 20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC

Big thanks to Kurtis Beard for the Review!

DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

Distribution

20th Century Fox

Region 1 - NTSC

Runtime 1:43:42
Video

2.35:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 7.82 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 English, Dolby Digital 1.0 English, Dolby Digital 1.0 Spanish
Subtitles English, Spanish, French
Features Release Information:
Studio: 20th Century Fox

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 2.35:1

Edition Details:
• An Interview with the Devil (2:08)
• The Paul Ryan Show (5:24)
• A Conversation with Harold Ramis (6:18)
• Original Theatrical Trailer
• Still Gallery

DVD Release Date: Apr. 3rd '07
Keep Case

Chapters 24

 

 

Comments:

NOTE: Leonard says: "I've enjoyed Second Sight's R2/UK edition of this DVD for nearly two years, and felt a bit muffed that it ever came out in R1 - Yet another movie, said I, that maybe I could have just held out for. I said this partly because I often eventually purchase the new R1 version of things just to get around the speed-up, which I find especially bothersome in those films where the voices are particularly important - and so I thought it would be for this one.

So I am delighted to report that the R2/UK version is much better - and even though there is a slight impression that everyone has just inhaled a toot of helium, for some reason that impression doesn't distract all that much - and in some cases the breathless quality may work just fine. For it is the image that totally toilets the R1. It is, in a word, more dazzling. The color is richer, with better and more contrast, and it's a bit sharper. The R1 is dull, flat, and overbright in the interior shots. I had the impression that the sound was a touch clearer on the R2, but perhaps not. In any event, the dialog track is looped to a point where it doesn't really appear that the actors are actually speaking anyhow, so if the image doesn't involve you, you're in a sort of limbo.

The Supplements are different, too, though I haven't checked either out for interest or relevance. With shipping, the two come out to roughly the same price since
amazon.co.uk is selling the Second Sight edition at a huge discount HERE." (Thanks Leonard!)

***

Video:

The film is presented in a luminous widescreen anamorphic transfer with the original aspect ratio of 2.35:1. Although, the exterior long shots aren’t as crisp as one would hope, detail is strong in the close-ups and interior shots. Further, colors are vibrant and well-expressed. In particular, both the black/white and animation sequences look fantastic.

Audio:

A strong Dolby Digital 2.0 track is offered on this DVD. The score, composed by Dudley Moore, is expressive, as are the sound effects. Occasionally, there are instances of distortion, particularly during Moore’s singing (in the black/white sequence), though this may have more to do with the actor’s cracking voice than the quality of the audio track.

Extras:

In the supplementary department, Fox misses the mark with a lackluster array of interviews. In one featurette, Moore interviews Cook while in character. This is surprisingly effective but far too brief. In the more lengthy interviews on the “Paul Ryan Show,” both actors are quite revealing, but the questions are of minimal interest. Finally, the interview with Ramis is enjoyable, but one can’t help but note his misfire in discussing the connection between Cook’s script and the issues faced by modern teens.

 - Kurtis Beard

 



DVD Menus

 

 


Screen Captures


Subtitle Sample

 

 

 


 

 

 


 

 

 


 

 

 


 

 

 


 

 

 


 

 

 


DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

Distribution

20th Century Fox

Region 1 - NTSC




 

Hit Counter

 

DONATIONS Keep DVDBeaver alive:

Mail cheques, money orders, cash to:    or CLICK PayPal logo to donate!

Gary Tooze

Thank You!