Monday, April 09, 2007

You Fill Me With Inertia

I'm glad that Bedazzled (the original, not the Brendan Fraser remake) finally got reissued. I notice from the booklet notes that Peter Cook expressed some reservations about Stanley Donen's direction of the film, or at least the way he and Dudley Moore responded to his direction. As film neophytes working for an experienced director like Donen, they perhaps deferred too much to his judgment and didn't give themselves all the freedom they needed to be at their funniest.

Also, by this time Donen -- who had been living in Europe for years and had just made the innovative, fragmented Two For the Road -- was filling all his movies with crazy camera angles and trendy "cinematic" effects. Which works fine for something like Two For the Road, but not so much for a straight-up comedy-thriller (compare Donen's incomprehensible Arabesque to the much more normal Charade, which he made only three years earlier) or a satirical comedy like Bedazzled. I sometimes wish he'd let up with the angles and filters and let Cook and Moore do their thing, and I also don't care for the extensive use of post-dubbed dialogue (a bane of '60s movies all over the world).

But Cook and Moore are so funny that even a tilted camera angle can't stop them. And despite my carping about Donen, he does bring a certain warmth to the film and to the relationship between Cook's devil and Moore's sad-sack Faust. And there are a number of scenes where he tones down the with-it technical flourishes and lets Cook and Moore have more leeway; and still other scenes where his attempt to be groovy sits well with the material. Like this scene where Moore wishes to be a pop star so girls will love him -- only to find that his fame is eclipsed within minutes by Cook's rival act ("Drimble Wedge and the Vegetations"). Moore's music -- the same melody arranged into two different styles of song -- is a dead-on parody of late '60s pop styles, and Donen matches it with a spoof of in-concert films and broadcasts.

And here is a transcript of Cook's lyrics:

I don't care.
So you said.
I don't want you.
I don't need you.
I don't love you.
Leave me alone.
I'm self-contained.
Just go away.
I'm fickle.
I'm cold.
I'm shallow.
You fill me with inertia.
Don't get excited.
Save your breath.
Cool it.
I'm not interested.
It's too much effort.
Don't you ever leave off?
I'm not available.


Booksteve said...

Always loved this scene. Taken out of the film's context, it's almost like one of the duo's TV parodies of the day. Cook here reminds me very much of early seventies David Bowie and Moore of mid-sixties Tom Jones (or any number of more forgettable singers of that style).The whole nihlistic thing smacks of early punk. Man those two had a handle on where pop was going didnt they?

Rays profile said...

Ju-lie ANNNNdrews!

J. J. Hunsecker said...

One of my all time favorite comedies. I just bought the DVD myself. Never saw the remake, and most likely never will.