Day 18: at some point over the festivities, Two Way Stretch will be watched, as recorded at some point during Christmas 1994. Never mind your Carry Ons or your Ealing comedies, this is the apex of the British comedy film, and it was a favourite of mine and my mate Stephen Evens during our shared drab suburban adolescence. Even if the plot and script weren’t absolutely first-rate, which they are, the presence of Bernard Cribbins, Beryl Reid, Liz Fraser, Irene “You’re obviously mistaking me for an actress who gives a fuck*” Handl, David “I’m Dave Lodge, I was in Cockleshell Heroes” Lodge, Thorley Walters, George Woodbridge, Mario Fabrizi, Maurice Denham and just about all the greats would see you through. Lionel Jeffries is the man of the match, though. It takes a true great to outshine Peter Sellers on peak form, and he did it. Yes, he was superb as the Marquess of Queensberry, but Prison Officer Sidney ‘Sour’ Crout is his finest moment in a career of distinction. Oh, and it has the best theme/opening titles combo of any British comedy film ever. Ken Jones, we salute you.

* Apologies for mangling the quote. The full story is explained in the accompanying comments, and it’s a corker.

6 thoughts on “

  1. Been years since I saw this film, but it was a childhood favourite. Always creased up when Irene Handl tried to explain away the contents of Peter Sellers's birthday cake.

  2. Cheeseford Junior will grow up with an intimate knowledge of films like this. My favourite scene is the prison workshop when the ladies of the great and good are visiting. In reality, they're all learning safe-cracking and stuff, but each of the ladies gets an innocent explanation. Once they're onto the next item, it's "Right lads, stuff your gelignite…". And, of course, the physical jerks on the hastily-covered tunnel borehole.

    These opening titles and music just shout "What follows will be fun" at me, as per Matt Groening's instructions to Danny Elfman about the Simpsons theme. Mind you, Channel 4 committed a priceless boo-boo on this showing. Which still from the film did they choose as the ad break caption? Only the very last frame, where they're all dressed as sheiks.

  3. Permission to be pedantic? The full version of the Irene Handl comment (when someone was trying to explain something technical was "Sorry Dear, you're confusing me" Tecchie continues trying to make explanation simpler. "No Dear, You're confusing me with one of those actresses who gives a fuck"

    "Mistaking me for" just doesn't work.

  4. Permission granted. Oh my gawd, you're right. I must have misheard/misread it and filed it away as a nice bit of swearing from an unlikely source, but your version is majestic and makes me love her even more.

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