US movie (1984). Warner. Pr Robert M Sherman. Exec pr Irving Fein. Dir Paul Bogart. Spfx Ray Klein. Screenplay Andrew Bergman. Starring George Burns (God/Satan/Harry O Tophet), Robert Desiderio (Billy Wayne), Roxanne Hart (Wendy Shelton), Eugene Roche (Charlie Gray), Ron Silver (Gary Frantz), Ted Wass (Bobby Shelton). 96 mins. Colour.
The third in the series that began with Oh, God! (1977) at last discovers some waspishness in its retelling of the Faust legend. Back in 1960, as young Shelton was suffering scarlet fever, his father invoked God to watch over the boy. Today Shelton is a struggling musician. He sells his Soul to the Devil – God's counterpart and identical Double – in exchange for success; Satan appears in the form of Harry O Tophet, claiming to be agent for most of the big stars. The Contract signed, Shelton discovers his life has been swapped with that of successful rock star Wayne (> Identity Exchange), whose own Pact with the Devil has just expired. For a while Shelton/Wayne enjoys success and groupies, but then he yearns for wife Wendy, especially when he discovers that the ex-Wayne is now Bobby Shelton, and has always been, and that she is pregnant with his – not the ex-Wayne's – child. Shelton/Wayne goes in search of God, the only one who can extricate him from his contract, and discovers him in Las Vegas. There Satan and God play a game of poker (> Cards) for his soul, God winning. Shelton regains his own life, wife, child and happiness.
This is a quite impressive piece of fantasy, full of interesting touches and clever lines (Heaven, we are told, is half-empty these days: "They had to close one of the main dining-rooms"). There are some fine flashes of Technofantasy. Clearly parallels can be drawn with Phantom of the Paradise (1974; > Phantom of the Opera), which is certainly a better movie; yet OG!YD has its own strengths, and should certainly not be dismissed as merely the last in a dying series. [JG]