Only Two Can Play : The Film - The Book
On the surface, sexually frustrated Welsh librarian -- John Lewis (Peter Sellers) -- has a somewhat quaint and normal existence. He has a hardworking wife -- named Jean (Virginia Maskell). He has three children -- two real; one fictitious. He lives in a house situated somewhere in the valleys -- to his chagrin. Plus he has a very good chance of furthering his own career, if he has an affair with the glamorous young gal called Liz (Mai Zetterling).
Oh! Wait a minute! You don't know who Liz is, right? Well, not only is she the wife of the wealthy socialite --
(Raymond Huntley) -- who's in charge of John's place of work. But she's also
the lady of leisure that's aiding John's old arch-rival -- Probert (Richard
Attenborough) -- in producing a play he's written.
So what do think John should do, huh? Stay at home with his wife and kids? Or should he do what his libido wants him to do; and jump into the sack with Liz?
Yes. I'm afraid to say it's 'jumping time', dear reader. Which commences when he goes to a party she's throwing at her house one enchanted evening, and then continues not so long thereafter at a theatre at night.
Still, that's most probably why what next transpires all goes to pot when John's pal, Jenkins (Kenneth Griffith), fells a bit sick. As plays crash and burn - affairs take a left turn - interviewers speak in code - and life eventually begins when a librarian decides to hit the road.
Now I was first led to watch 'Only Two Can Play' when I saw an exert of it quite some time ago in a Peter Sellers documentary I watched. And do you know what? It's a good job I did. This ballsy comedy is a smashing film. Having that quaint yet bold gravitas that certain movies of this era brought along with it. Furthermore, the acting's on point, the story is emotive, and the over premise is very translatable to any day and age.
You see, in essence, this adventure is about a man who wants to escape from his everyday life, by having an affair with someone he is very attracted to. Admittedly, this seems like a fairly normal conceit for any film, doesn't it? Plus something every Joe-Blow can connect to on an emotional level. However, what this flick does -- compared to some other flicks I care not to mention -- is make you sympathise with the main character's situation.
Normally I would be shouting at the screen and saying 'Oi! Cut that out you dirty sod! You've got a wife and kids indoors!'. But for some unknown reason, Peter Seller's character charmed the pants off me. And I began to understand why he wanted to shag the blond bint instead of living the 'colloquial life'.
Come on. Let's face facts. Haven't we all pondered if the grass was greener on the other side? Haven't we all been somewhat intrigued about playing away from home? It's something I've reluctantly contemplated upon from time to time. Not playing upon this instinct. Of course. But still worth a thought on occasion.
Overall, 'Only Two Can Play' is great film. And is one to watch if you want to have a bit of a chuckle at someone who finally gets there in the end. Try to think of it as a timely soap opera with a lot of personality, a tighter plot-line, and a message that is relevant in any day and age.
Class in a can. Say no more.