Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)

UK movie (1967). 20th Century-Fox. Pr Stanley Donen. Dir Donen. Screenplay Peter Cook. Novelization Bedazzled * (1967) by Michael J Bird. Starring Michael Bates (Inspector Reg Clarke), Eleanor Bron (Margaret Spencer), Peter Cook (The Devil/George Spiggott), Barry Humphries (Envy), Dudley Moore (Stanley Moon), Robert Russell (Anger), Michael Trubshawe (Lord Dowdy), Raquel Welch (Lilian Lust), Lockwood West (St Peter). 96 mins. Colour.

Stanley, cook in a Wimpy Bar, yearns for waitress Margaret but is shy. On the verge of suicide he is approached by the Devil, in the guise of nightclub-owner Spiggott (misspelt "Spiggot" in the credits), who gives him seven Wishes in return for his Soul (see Pact with the Devil). Six wishes, all but one directed towards the acquisition of Margaret's love, are presented in the form of Alternate Realities, with putative Stanleys and Margarets living the consequences of the wish; the results are inevitably, due to the Devil's Quibbles, disastrous. In between wish-fulfilment scenarios, the Devil explains that his position as instigator of Evil was born out of a bet with God as to which could first claim 100 billion souls; he is close to winning, and thereby reattaining God's innermost circle of Angels. Stanley's final Reality is as a fellow-nun alongside Margaret in an Order of Silence; he pleads with the Devil for mercy, and the latter returns Stanley's soul as his first benevolent act as an angel. Ascending to Heaven the Devil is rejected by God. Returned to Earth, the Devil approaches Stanley, now a Wimpy cook again, in hopes of striking up a new Contract; but Stanley, having dared to ask Margaret for a date, decides, even though rejected, in turn to reject the Devil.

This reinterpretation of the Faust legend in terms of the Swinging Sixties is ... very Sixties. It has splendid moments, but in between there is much, perhaps too much, that is insufficiently sharp. [JG]

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.