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December 3, 2014 1:51 PM   Subscribe

Peter Cook interview from 1967: Part 1 [YouTube]. Cook talks about the writing process, creating Bedazzled, taxes, Beyond The Fringe, stage-work, and more in this unguarded interview.

Part 2
Part 3

Josh Olson on 'Bedazzled' ("No Peter Cook, no Monty Python - it's that simple..."); Wikipedia details each of the wishes in the film.

Bonus links:

Dudley Moore and Peter Cook on "Parkinson" (4 minutes 21 sec; third guest is boxer John Conteh.)
Peter Cook & Dudley Moore - One Leg Too Few (1964)

Previously: Not Only... But Also, And Now For Something...
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome (13 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

And of course most of his best work was wiped by the BBC in the 70s even though Cook and Moore offered to pay the complete cost of new videotapes.
posted by Fnarf at 2:19 PM on December 3, 2014

Is this where we link our favourite Peter Cook and Dudley Moore sketches? I'm very fond of The Facts of Life.
posted by fever-trees at 3:32 PM on December 3, 2014

Bedazzled is one of the films that rendered my life forever changed.

I can quote it, line for line, scene for scene, like a nerd with Monty Python's Holy Grail.

Hell, my nun outfit owes its life to that film, to say nothing of my collection of Fruney's Green Eyewash and my empty raspberry bowl. Sigh.
posted by sonascope at 4:02 PM on December 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

Derek and Clive Get the Horn
posted by chavenet at 4:14 PM on December 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I stumbled on this movie when I was a kid, and when you're about 7 years old the leaping nuns is so funny you feel you're going to burst.

Can anyone find the final speech that Cook delivers (as Satan) at the very end of the film? I always thought that bitter speech gave the film a nice dark edge - no happy endings here! - and tempered the silliness (that we love). I wanted to link to it in The Whelk's recent post; to my surprise I couldn't locate it on YouTube! :( Seems odd that no one's uploaded it...
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 4:33 PM on December 3, 2014

I saw Bedazzled as a kid and have loved it since.

George [the devil]: Pretend I'm God and now dance around me and sing my praises."
Stanley: [after a few seconds] I'm getting tired can we switch places?
George: That's exactly how I felt!

posted by Kafkaesque at 5:16 PM on December 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

Is this where we link our favourite Peter Cook and Dudley Moore sketches?

Pete and Dud, The Art Gallery in which Dud completely corpses under Pete's deadpanning.

Also, the entirety of Cook's late-in-life appearance on Clive Anderson Talks Back.

It saddens me a bit that what Peter Cook may be best remembered for now is saying "mawwiage" in The Princess Bride. Not that it's not great; but there was so, so much more to him.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 7:00 PM on December 3, 2014

I mentioned Bedazzled in an AskMe thread about films featuring the British gent as the "epitome of Cool" not so long ago, because it feels like it's drawing a line under the bits of that genre that by 1967 were mostly a charade. George is the epitome of cool -- at 29 years old, Cook was in the prime of his prime -- but he's also, um, the devil.

It saddens me a bit that what Peter Cook may be best remembered for now is saying "mawwiage" in The Princess Bride.

It saddens me a bit that were it not for the population difference between the US and UK, he'd be best remembered for Derek & Clive, which was a mainstay of my early adult years but stopped being quite so hilarious around the time I hit the same age Cook and Moore were when they recorded that material. Not a coincidence, I think.

We've been robbed of the archives to understand much of the context, but we do get to see Beyond The Fringe. We also get to see the generational tension between Cook and Peter Sellers, with Cook never really breaking America like Sellers had done (or Moore would do) but also never doing the kind of shittier Hollywood work Sellers and Moore did.

It's a great interview, because this is Cook at a point in his life where he's doing tremendous work but still wonders whether Hollywood might call him.

The interviewer's Bernard Braden, a Canadian who settled in the UK; the interviews with Cook and other 60s personalities were self-filmed and self-funded, with the aim selling them to a broadcaster, but there were no takers, and ended up donated to the BFI's archives, with segments first broadcast in 2008.

(YouTube leads me to a Clive James interview from 1987, 20 years on, with Barry Humphries in propria persona alongside Cook.)
posted by holgate at 10:07 PM on December 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

Is this where we link our favourite Peter Cook and Dudley Moore sketches?

Just last night I was watching (yet again) the wonderful One Leg Too Few, mentioned above – which I saw many years ago in London revived in Behind the Fridge – and the brilliant Great Train Robbery (Cook without Moore).

With Moore, my favorites include Teaching Ravens to Fly Underwater, Life of Jesus Part I, and (also revived here) The Frog and Peach.

John Cleese has been quoted as saying, “Most of us would take six hours to write a good three-minute sketch. It actually took Peter three minutes to write a three-minute sketch. I always thought he was the best of us, and the only one who came near being a genius, because genius, to me , has something to do with doing it more easily than other people.”
posted by LeLiLo at 2:27 AM on December 4, 2014 [2 favorites]

I was thinking some more about Cook and Sellers, born just 12 years apart, but on different sides of a comedic watershed: The Goon Show ended in 1960, the same year as Beyond the Fringe. There's a common thread to their chameleon-like mimicry, mischievousness with class and register, ability to combine verbal wit with physical comedy.

Then I found out that Sellers was a guest star on Not Only... But Also in 1965, and these skits show him and Cook... well, see for yourselves.
posted by holgate at 8:52 AM on December 4, 2014 [2 favorites]

And since we learned today of the death of Jeremy Thorpe, here's 'Entirely A Matter For You', written by Cook in his dressing room on the night he performed it at the Secret Policeman's Ball in 1979.
posted by holgate at 9:43 AM on December 4, 2014 [2 favorites]

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