Mini Movie Review: BEDAZZLED (from 1967)

I finally watched the original BEDAZZLED (1967). What a hilarious romp of color, camp, whimsy, and even clever moments. At the end of the day, I wanted to screen some light fun and got exactly that with this comedy. The two musical numbers especially had me laughing, hard— those and a sequence in a convent towards the end. Dudley Moore and Peter Cook were handsome young men in their day. And Raquel Welch is always lovely to watch.

Dudley Moore plays Stanley Moon, a young bachelor who works as a cook in a greasy spoon diner in London, England. A shy man with low self esteem, he is in love with his waitress coworker Margaret (Eleanor Bron). One day after Stanley attempts suicide, the Devil shows up at his apartment in the form of a young man named George Spiggott (Peter Cook). Hilarity ensues after this meeting as Mr. Spiggott grants Stanley seven wishes. Each wish results in a different life situation for Stanley where he is somehow closely involved with Margaret. However, due to Mr. Spiggott’s/Satan’s trickery, some aspect ends up not quite being right for him in each scenario. Along the way, Stanley and George engage in funny but thoughtful conversations about deep matters, such as sex and relationships.

The overall message of finding value in the life one already has comes through in this creative, somewhat dated, somewhat timeless production. What is particularly impressive is that Peter Cook wrote the script and Dudley Moore composed all of the music. These talented men were in their late twenties and early thirties, respectively. For those, like myself, who enjoy 1960s music and fashions and British humor thumbing its nose at uptight establishment mores and Christianity, this is a particularly delightful watch.

Movie Review: THE MAD ROOM (from 1969)

THE MAD ROOM (released in 1969, filmed in 1968), starring the recently deceased Stella Stevens and the long late Shelley Winters, is chock full of big hair and overacting. An older sister (Stevens) must take in her two teenaged siblings after their release from a mental institution. They all try to live with an eccentric, self indulgent wealthy widow (Winters). What could possibly go wrong?

There is a dash of the creepy in places, but mainly contrived– even sometimes ridiculous– efforts to be so. The movie’s director (Bernard Girard) and writers (also Girard, plus A. Martin Zweiback) appear to have inserted some Grand Guignol for shock value. The overacting mutes that for me, even with the entertaining, suspenseful music, which simply adds to the film’s whole over the top aesthetic. There is no deep character development, just moments of amusing melodrama.

Along with the pretty cinematography of western Canadian countryside in some scenes, Ms. Stevens looks lovely as a young, well-dressed woman who steadily grows unhinged. Her wide-eyed expressions and brightly bleached, heavily sprayed hair especially make this a worthwhile watch. (Okay, those elements and a certain scene where an angry, drunken middle-aged woman crashes a house party of high society wives.)

The movie is a loose remake of the 1941 film noir LADIES IN RETIREMENT, which stars Ida Lupino. That earlier production is atmospheric, psychological suspense drama, whereas THE MAD ROOM is a mediocre specimen of 1960s cinema camp, colorful and fun enough.