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At the Beacon Hill

By Glenn A. Padnick

HERE they are--Raquel Welch. That's been virtually the entire promotion campaign for Bedazzled, and it's a shame. Miss Welch and her assets appear for perhaps five minutes of Bedazzled's total 107-minute screentime, and those who come just for her will be disappointed. But they will see the most irreverent picture in a long time, one executed with dash, wit, and occasional dollops of bad taste. It is, of course, funny as hell.

Hell is the source of most of the gags. In this latest variation of the Mephistopheles legend, a London short-order cook secretly in love with a waitress sells his soul for seven wishes. He eventually gets it back, but not before each wish backfires on him because he fails to specify the details.

Nestled within the plot are a rapid-fire series of attacks on a few of the more usual elements of society, most particularly the church. The devil speaks of God sitting on his great throne "surrounded by thousands of sycophantic, prissy little angels" all telling Him how great, good, handsome, and wise He is. In response to his final wish, the cook is transformed into a nun and lands in the convent of the Leaping Virilians, where initiation consists of bouncing around on a trampoline to the beat of Big Sister, the head of the convent. ("Big Sister Is Watching You" signs appear on the walls.)

BETWEEN wishes, the cook tags behind the devil as he performs his "casual mischief"--popping buttons from shirts returning from the cleaners, phoning up people in the bath, ripping the last page from Agatha Christies, etc.

Bedazzled is the product of half the Beyond the Fringe team. Peter Cook and Dudley Moore star as the devil and the chef. In addition, Cook and Moore collaborated on the original story with Cook writing the music.

Eleanor Bron as the object of Moore's affections is quite accomplished in foiling the series of attempts Moore makes to win her Miss Welch provides her ample support as one of Cook's seven deadly sins, Lust.

Stanley Donen has directed the melange with the accomplished color camera he has used so well many times before.

Bedazzled has not been a popular film thus far in its Boston run. Apparently, word about Miss Welch's brief appearance has gotten around to her fans, and little has been circulated about the film's many real merits. It's a bit daring in a few scenes. But you don't have to see it for that; it may be the funniest thing in town anyway.

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