Only Two Can Play

Only Two Can Play

Only Two Can Play is a 1962 comedy film based on the novel That Uncertain Feeling by Kingsley Amis. Sidney Gilliat directed the film from a screenplay by Bryan Forbes.

The film is set in the fictional South Wales town of Aberdarcy, and largely filmed in and around Swansea.


Peter Sellers is John Lewis, a poorly paid and professionally frustrated Welsh librarian and occasional drama critic, whose affections fluctuate between a glamorous woman Liz (Mai Zetterling), and his long-suffering wife Jean (Virginia Maskell).

When a higher paid job comes up, Lewis is reluctant to apply but is persuaded to do so by Jean. Then he meets the obviously attractive Elizabeth Gruffydd-Williams (Liz), a designer with the local amdram company and wife of a local councillor.

Liz offers to intercede with her husband in getting Lewis the job, and makes it clear that she is attracted to him. Lewis is easily seduced into an affair, although the couple has very poor timing and never consummates their attraction.

Having been persuaded by Liz to depart the theater's new production early, Lewis submits a bogus review to the local paper but only learns too late the theater burned to the ground during the play. Jean thus learns of the affair and she retaliates by encouraging her old flame Probert (Richard Attenborough), a self-important literary character and dramatist (who wrote the ill-fated play). Lewis also loses the friendship of his colleague and best friend Ieuan Jenkins (Kenneth Griffith) (who had a role in the play).

When Lewis is offered the better paid job he realizes Liz will now use and control him if he lets her. Finally realising the price he has paid, he breaks off the affair and takes a job as a mobile librarian, in the hope that this will keep him away from predatory women. Jean is not so sure that he can resist them, and tags along to keep an eye on him.


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