This brilliant British Lion screen adaptation of Kinglsey Amis’ novel That Uncertain Feeling stars Peter Sellers as John Lewis, a frustrated and disenchanted librarian in the small (fictional) Welsh town of Aberdarcy.
Lewis is desperately trying to break out of the circle of life’s minor irritations that is closing in around him. He is married, the father of two children, and lives in a dishevelled and ramshackle flat that makes him feel even more encaged.
During his duties, he meets Liz (Swedish actress Mai Zetterling), the wife of the rich chairman of the libraries committee (Raymond Huntley) and suddenly, his seven-year-itch tugs him uncontrollably towards infidelity.
She is also strongly attracted to John and, in exchange for certain “favours”, she promises to help him in his quest for promotion.
Although their attempts to get to know each other better are foiled by unforeseen circumstances – cows peering through a car window etc – and although John makes a hash of his interviews with the committee, his promotion has already been fixed by Liz.
But this step out of the now-broken circle of frustrating family life suddenly causes his conscience to stir, and he realises that he prefers being engulfed by life’s minor irritations to feeling the uncomfortable weight of Liz’s chains around him.
He eventually realises that marriage is a game that only two can play.
Filmed on location in the streets of Swansea, Only Two Can Play was only a moderate box office hit, though it launched Zetterling’s career, and she went on to become a cutting-edge director exploring themes of homosexuality before her death in 1994.
John Le Mesurier
Town Hall Clerk
Gareth L. Probert