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Dudley Moore: Bedazzled

[Bedazzled LP cover] Dudley Moore is known as the piano-playing drunk millionaire Arthur on this side of the Atlantic, but in England he’ll always be known as one half of a comedy duo with Peter Cook, who wrote and co-starred in Bedazzled along with Moore, who wrote the music for it in 1967. (It was remade in 2000 with Brendan Fraser and Elizabeth Hurley.) They’d come fresh from success after success in the UK for their radio and TV sketch-comedy shows, in which Cook was often the antagonist to Moore. In Bedazzled Cook is the ultimate antagonist — the Devil — come to Swinging London to claim a sad-sack short-order cook’s soul. Cook saw the film as his chance at transatlantic moviestardom; he took sole charge of the screenplay and made sure Satan got all the best lines (“We’ve been hit very badly by this peace scare”). Ironically, his intentionally subdued performance (the better to contrast himself with Moore’s pathetic, desperate, but sympathetic character) did too good of a job: Bedazzled was the beginning of Moore’s brief reign as American box-office king with films like 10 and Arthur, and the beginning of Cook’s slide into undeserved relative obscurity (American audiences know him from his cameo as the speech-impaired bishop in The Princess Bride).

The disparity between their characters’ natures is used to great effect in the film’s pop-star sequence, in which Moore, having requested that the Devil make him an adored figure, is transported to a Ready Steady Go–like studio set. Moore belts out a Tom Jones–esque song pleading for the audience to “Love Me”, and the audience duly screams for him in a perfect parody of Hard Day’s Night. Cook, again turning up to crush Moore’s fantasies, arrives on set after him as “Drimble Wedge and The Vegetations” and delivers “Bedazzled,” a bizarre tune that features Cook intoning “I’m callous … I’m dull … you bore me” in a monotone while undeterred backup singers sing “you drive me wild!” The challenge of “I’m not available” is too much for the studio audience, who forget all about Moore and swarm Cook.

[image of Japanese Bedazzled poster] The film’s soundtrack, composed by Moore, has some great pieces on it; besides the two songs above, the film’s main title is memorable. There’s some easy-listening filler, but it’s intended as schmaltz to underscore the vapidity of the characters in certain sequences. There’s some good strip-club music to showcase Raquel Welch (Cook wanted to call the film “Raquel Welch” so the posters could read “Peter Cook and Dudley Moore in Raquel Welch”), as the personification of the deadly sin Lust.

  1. Main Title
  2. Moon Time
  3. Strip Club
  4. Italy
  5. The Leaping Nun’s Chorus
  6. GPO Tower
  7. Love Me
  8. Bedazzled – link fixed
  9. The Millionaire
  10. Sweet Mouth
  11. Cornfield
  12. Goodbye George
  13. Lillian Lust

As an extra treat here’s Bongwater’s version of “Bedazzled” from their great 1990 LP Power of Pussy.

8-Tracks of 69: Porno 8-tracks, Part 3

Is he a real doctor? Is she a real nymphomaniac?

Either way, it’s real hard to get turned on by a porn scene where the male imitates Arte Johnson imitating Sigmund Freud. But if you didn’t, too bad: this short skit is the only thing on all 8 tracks of this tape! It’s repeated on each of the four bands, though at slightly skewed times (a fraction of a second off for each track). This makes for surreal channel-skipping if you hit the Track Change button repeatedly… probably my favorite thing about the tape, actually.

The cover art is my least favorite thing about it — not only is it a stock porn shot with no text or liner notes, but it’s the same stock porn shot as the previous 8-track tape in this series.

Stoopnagle & Budd

[publicity photo of Col. Stoopnagle & Budd] The story goes that the comedy team of Colonel Stoopnagle & Budd started in 1932, when a thunderstorm knocked out the NBC network feed to their Buffalo affiliate. Faced with dead air, the station grabbed two of their staff writers, F. Chase Taylor and Wilbur Hulick, threw them in front of a microphone, and told them to improvise. The duo instantly made up the characters of “Colonel Lemuel Q. Stoopnagle”, an eccentric ex-Navy inventor famous for his invention of upside-down lighthouses for submarines, and his bemused interviewer/straight man, “Budd”, and ad-libbed for the next two hours. They were an instant local hit, and soon moved on to national prominence.

Like many too-cute tales from the days of classic radio, that story’s probably not true, but it’s “too good to check”, as the old newspaper saying goes. However they started, Stoopnagle & Budd soon became immensely popular, at one point being the second-highest paid comedy team in radio (the first was Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll, “Amos ‘n’ Andy”). Despite their popularity, their offbeat humor made sponsors nervous and they had difficulty keeping them on their various NBC and CBS shows (which they turned into a running joke). They broke up due to personal differences in 1938. Stoopnagle went on to be a frequent radio guest star and author of humorous articles for magazines like The Saturday Evening Post. He became especially known for rewritten fairy tales using printed malapropisms known as “Spoonerisms” (e.g., Beeping Sleauty and Prinderella and the Cince). Budd returned to Buffalo and obscurity.

['How to Draw a Circle', by Col. Stoopnagle]

Despite the team’s popularity back in the day, they are forgotten today, largely because very little of their work survives. Of their many radio shows, I only know of four that still exist: a 1935 episode of their unsponsored CBS show, a brief snippet of another show which I’m guessing is also from 1935, and two episodes of Town Hall Tonight from a period in 1936 when Stoopnagle & Budd substituted for the show’s regular host, Fred Allen.

[poster for 'Stoopnocracy'] They also appeared in four films: an installment of the short subject series Rambling ‘Round Radio Row, which I’m not sure survives; International House, a classic Paramount all-star comedy; The Inventors, a Paramount short which is on VHS, but only as part of this expensive six-tape set (if somebody wants to buy it for me, I’ll gladly post the Stoopnagle bit here); and, most intriguingly, Stoopnocracy, a Fleischer cartoon which tragically seems to have disappeared.

I’ve posted here a DivX AVI of their appearance in International House, and MP3s of the aforementioned 1935 show and show segment as well as one of their Town Hall Tonight appearances. Be sure to at least check out the first two links.

Unsurprisingly, there’s not too much online about them; this site has ambitions of being the definitive Stoopnagle site, but it’s far from being finished. Some good images and text, though. Also, here are some of Stoopnagle’s Spoonerisms.

(Update April 4, 2007: Stoopnocracy found! See here for details.)

Sammy Davis Jr. Sings for Alka-Seltzer as Hangover Remedy

[photo of Sammy Davis Jr.]

It’s 1978 and the Miles Laboratory, creators of Alka-Seltzer, have signed on international superstar Sammy Davis Jr. as the perfect spokesman for their “Party hard? Live fast? Get relief FAST!” promotional campaign aimed at the fast growing demographic of late 70’s swingers and drug addicted socialites. It is a time before AIDS and cocaine will cast their deadly shadows and Sammy Davis Jr. is considered a strong icon not only for this new middle class phenomena but also for the previous generation who had still longed for the Rat Pack days of Sammy, Dean, and Frank.

This campaign produced several Television ads featuring Sammy singing new, hip takes on the clasic “Plop Plop Fizz Fizz” jingle (written by Tom Dawes, published by Twin Star Music) and was a success on all counts — hitting their target audience of hungover party-goers. One version which was termed the “Big Band Version” was geared towards the older generations while “Rock Version” was aimed at the excessive lifestyle generation.

However it all ended for Sammy in 1979 when the Bayer Corporation purchased Miles Laboratories and overhauled the brand and marketing strategy of Alka-Seltzer, signing on actor [photo of Bernie Kopell]Bernie Kopell (Doc from ABC series The Love Boat) as their official spokesperson. The new campaign was geared away from the party and hangover crowd and more towards women ages 30–60 with severe digestive problems. Bayer Corp. is currently promoting a hangover remedy called Alka-Seltzer Morning Relief™, with rock vocalist Courtney Love as official spokesperson who will record the famous jingle yet again in both a Grunge Rock Version and Techno Version.