Review: ‘Only Two Can Play’

Kingsley Amis' novel, That Uncertain Feeling, has had some of its cool sting extracted for the film version, but the result is a lively, middle-class variation along the lines of The Seven Year Itch.

Kingsley Amis’ novel, That Uncertain Feeling, has had some of its cool sting extracted for the film version, but the result is a lively, middle-class variation along the lines of The Seven Year Itch.

Some of the humor is over-earthy and slightly lavatory, and the film never fully decides whether it is supposed to be light comedy, farce or satire. But it remains a cheerful piece of nonsense with some saucy dialog and situations capably exploited by Sellers and his colleagues.

He is a member of the staff of a Welsh public library. A white collar job. He is fed up and frustrated with the eternal prospect of living in a shabby apartment with a dispirited wife, two awful kids, peeling wallpaper, erratic plumbing and a dragon of a landlady. Into his drab life floats the bored, sexy young wife of a local bigwig and she makes a play for Sellers.

The fact that she can influence her spouse to get Sellers promotion is hardly in Sellers’ mind. But what is in his mind never gets a chance of jelling. Their attempts at mutual-seduction are thwarted by babysitting problem, sudden return of the husband, intrusion of a herd of inquisitive cows when attempting a nocturnal roll.

Sellers adds another wily characterization to his gallery. His problems as frustrated lover carry greater weight because, from the beginning, he does not exaggerate or distort the role of the humble little librarian with aspirations. Mai Zetterling and Virginia Maskell provided effective contrasts as the two women in his life.

Only Two Can Play

UK

Production

British Lion. Director Sidney Gilliat; Producer Leslie Gilliat; Screenplay Bryan Forbes; Camera John Wilcox; Editor Thelma Connell; Music Richard Rodney Bennett; Art Director Albert Witherick

Crew

(B&W) Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1962. Running time: 106 MIN.

With

Peter Sellers Mai Zetterling Virginia Maskell Richard Attenborough Kenneth Griffiths
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