Critics' picks: New DVDs

Devilish wit of `Bedazzled' holds up four decades later

April 01, 2007

BEDAZZLED -- 20th Century Fox / $19.98

The Devil worries that he's been slipping lately. In his heyday, he brags, he invented all seven deadly sins in one afternoon. But recently, "all I've come up with is advertising."

Bedazzled, the 1967 comedy starring Dudley Moore and Peter Cook, is one of the funniest films ever made, and its DVD release seems ideally timed for April Fool's Day. (Well, OK, technically, it's a smidge late - the video won't actually be offered for sale until Tuesday. But perhaps, that's part of the joke.)

Four decades later, this retelling of the classic Faust legend, in which a short-order cook named Stanley Moon sells his soul to win the woman of his dreams, remains laugh-until-you-gasp funny, and not just because of poor Eleanor Bron's hairstyles. (She plays the hero's love interest.)

Cook wrote the screenplay, and delivers many of the best lines either as asides or in his trademark deadpan delivery. The devil, it seems, is named George Spiggott, and he runs a scruffy London nightclub.

Check the sign outside his establishment: "Licensed to buy and sell spirits."

George moans that he can't find decent help; his only employees are the Sins. He muses: "I suppose it's the wages."

Special features

By contemporary standards, the special features aren't much - a snippet of clowning in front of the camera in which Stanley "interviews" George; a guest appearance by the duo on an old television show; reminiscences by a minor collaborator. But hindsight adds unexpected significance.

The television interview, for instance, occurs in the late 1970s, while Moore is working on 10, the monster hit film that, for better or worse, made a star of Bo Derek.

And while many people are aware that Raquel Welch does a delicious turn in Bedazzled as Lilian Lust, the Babe with the Bust, probably few know that Envy was played by a young performer who would go on to earn his own share of fame - Barry Humphries, aka Dame Edna.

Prepare to Be Dazzled.

Mary Carole McCauley

mary.mccauley@baltsun.com

ALSO ANTICIPATED

TWIN PEAKS: THE SECOND SEASON --CBS DVD / $59.95

Not only did we still not know who killed Laura Palmer, but now we had to worry about who shot Agent Cooper. Season 2 of Twin Peaks, a series as close to avant-garde as network television has ever come, failed to live up to the groundbreaking seven episodes of its first year, but it still proved compelling television. Series creator David Lynch left most of the directing work to others, but his hallucinatory hand never strayed too far from the proceedings.

True, not everything worked this season; the "Little Nicky" subplot proved tiresome, and Windom Earle never quite matched the demonic Bob as a villain. Yet, episodes 14, in which Laura Palmer's cousin, Maddie, meets her grisly demise, and 15, in which her (and Laura's) murderer is revealed to all, are as relentless and as gripping as TV drama gets.

Add to that the bizarre "Miss Twin Peaks" pageant and the macabre series finale, and this is definitely TV worth owning. (Things really didn't fall apart until the later feature film, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, where the free hand Lynch was given overwhelmed the franchise.)

Special features

Extras include interviews with directors Caleb Deschanel, Duwayne Dunham, Tim Hunter, Todd Holland and Stephen Gyllenhaal; actors Kyle MacLachlan, Madchen Amick, Sherilyn Fenn, James Burrows, David Duchovny and others.

Chris Kaltenbach

chris.kaltenbach@baltsun.com

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