This Mephistophelean comedy is easily the best of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore's big screen pairings, and far more successful than the Brendan Fraser remake (although the absence of Elizabeth Hurley guarantees that on its own), but it is somewhat inconsistent in tone. It's the set-up and linking scenes that are the funniest and cleverest by far, as Peter Cook's George Spiggott (aka the Devil) explains the various theological conundrums of the whole Good-and-Evil-and-Free-Choice thing to Dudley Moore's short-order hamburger chef Stanley Moon while going about his daily business of mundane petty sins and mischief - fixing parking meters, scratching records, cutting buttons off shirts, drilling holes in oil tankers, persuading pigeons to crap on passers by - with little help from his useless assistants ("What terrible sins I've got working for me. Must be the wages."). Most of the mysteries of the ages are explained: the Garden of Eden is revealed as a boggy swamp just south of Croydon, Heaven turns out to be the garden center at Syon Park in Brentford, God is naturally an Englishman. And the key to success with women turns out to be - "In the words of Marcel Proust - and this applies to any woman in the world - if you can stay up and listen with a fair degree of attention to whatever garbage, no matter how stupid it is that they're coming out with, til ten minutes past four in the morning... you're in."
The wishes themselves are mostly slightly disappointing, like the duo's later TV work showing a tendancy toward overlength, although they do offer Eleanor Bron a chance to really shine in several different incarnations of Moon's fantasy woman, and the fly on the wall sketch and the wonderful leaping Nuns of the Berylian Order are strokes of insane genius (Cook's statically disinterested pop star - "You fill me with inertia" - is an inspired creation too). And don't forget the magic words - "Julie An-drews!"
Second Sight's PAL DVD is a good one - a very good 2.35:1 widescreen transfer, a 23-minute interviw with Barry Humphries (who plays Envy in the film) and raw footage of a newsreel interview on set with Cook and Moore.