Only Two Can Play

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  • 1962
  • 1 hr 46 min
  • 6.6  (1,380)

Only Two Can Play is a 1962 British film directed by Sidney Gilliat and starring Peter Sellers, Mai Zetterling, and Virginia Maskell. The movie is based on the novel, That Uncertain Feeling by Kingsley Amis. The story unfolds in a small Welsh seaside town of Aberdarcy, where the protagonist, John Lewis, works as a librarian. John is in his mid-30s, frustrated with his job and love life. He is married to Jean (Maskell), a controlling and unsatisfied wife who finds fault in everything he does. Jean is more interested in flirting with her boss, Mr. Pearson, than taking care of her home and husband. John, on the other hand, harbors a secret infatuation for Liz (Zetterling), a sophisticated and intelligent actress who comes to Aberdarcy to perform in a local theater.

John's mundane life takes an unexpected turn when he is offered the position of the directorship of the local literature festival. He sees this as an opportunity to prove himself, impress Liz and advance in his career. But as he tries to juggle his responsibilities as the festival director, his troubled marriage, and his growing attraction for Liz, John finds himself caught in a web of complications and comical situations.

As the festival approaches, John has to deal with the egos of the visiting authors, including a self-important American writer, a snobbish old poet, and a temperamental French novelist. He is also faced with the challenge of betting on a horse race with his lecherous boss, Mr. Pearson, to fund the festival. All the while, John's personal life becomes increasingly complicated, as his wife discovers his infatuation with Liz, and he tries to sort his feelings and decide what he truly wants in life.

Only Two Can Play is a clever and humorous film that pokes fun at the literary world and the idiosyncrasies of people. The movie's main strength lies in Peter Sellers' fabulously nuanced performance as the lead character, John. He effortlessly captures the essence of a man who is struggling with his life's monotony, yet still managing to amuse us with his modern wit and charm. Virginia Maskell also gives a convincing performance as the frustrated and demanding Jean. The chemistry between Sellers and Zetterling is palpable, making their interactions all the more engaging to watch.

Mai Zetterling, who also co-starred with Sellers in the movie, The Mouse That Roared (1959), portrays the sophisticated and intelligent actress with aplomb. She brings an air of sophistication to the character, contrasting the dynamic and colorful personalities of the festival writers.

The movie's charm doesn't lie solely in its performances, as its visual aesthetic is also delightful. The picturesque Welsh seaside town of Aberdarcy is captured brilliantly on camera by cinematographer, Wilkie Cooper. Its serene and tranquil beauty provides a stark contrast to the chaos and confusion that John faces in his personal and professional life.

The film deals with some bold and very adult themes, including extramarital affairs, marital dissatisfaction, and other cultural taboos that were not typically discussed openly in movies of this era. However, it handles these issues with finesse and humor, making them more palatable for audiences.

In conclusion,Only Two Can Play is a witty and charming film that showcases Peter Seller's flawless acting skills. The movie's compelling storyline, delightful aesthetics, and subtle humor all come together to make it a movie that is guaranteed to have the viewer laughing out loud. Overall, it is an entertaining and clever movie worth watching for anyone who enjoys the wit and charm of British comedy.

Only Two Can Play
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  • Release Date
  • Runtime
    1 hr 46 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    6.6  (1,380)