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A Sellers Classic
ianski-41 November 2000
A wonderful film, a classic with so many brilliant performances from almost everybody involved.

A clever plot with a plan so cunning you are willing the "bad guys" to get away with it. It stands the test of time and seemed to improve with every viewing. Sellers, David Lodge and Bernard Cribbins are likeable rogues and Lionel Jeffries fits the sadistic warder part like a glove. Liz Fraser and Irene Handel are their usual excellent selves and Wilfred Hyde White shows his versatility throughout.

A splendid film - when it's scheduled for TV again, watch it or tape it - an underrated British Classic!
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"Basket weaving? - I'll get you baskets weaving...!"
ianlouisiana14 November 2005
Despite "Two way stretch" usually being described as a "Peter Sellers film" it is an ensemble piece featuring some of the best British character actors of the 1950s and 60s.Maurice Denham,George Woodbridge,Thorley Walters,Wilfred Hyde-White and the wonderful Lionel Jefferies decorate this movie.Mr Jefferies in particular was never better than as CPO Crout the slightly mad successor to the kind-hearted veteran George Woodbridge. "Basket weaving?.....I'll get you baskets weaving !" he rants on being told that the cons are being taught that country craft. The usual lovable Cockneys and middle-class dunderheads make up the rest of the cast. It is the sort of film knocked out in a few weeks for silly money that the British Film Industry once excelled at.It wasn't "Great Art" but it was great fun.Now you need millions from the Lottery to make something a first-year Film Studies person would leave on the cutting-room floor. "Two way stretch " had no sex,no violence and no bad language,three of the requisites for comedy writers these days.It still makes a lot of people laugh.Not many modern comedies do.Is this a "Duh" moment?
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Lionel Jeffries as the archetypal "screw."
bobj-331 July 2001
One of a brace of classic comedies to come out of Britain in the late 50s-early 60s, "Two-Way Stretch" combines all the elements: great comic actors, tight little story line, fast pace, and not overbroad slapstick. Sellers, Cribbins, and Jeffries reprise (sort of!) their roles in "Wrong Arm of the Law," with Sellers and Cribbins the crooks and Jeffries representing the Law. But this time Jeffries is a delightfully wicked "screw," out to "get" the two lay-about inmates in any way he can. A brilliant piece of work, as was his more "Clouseau"-like performance in "Wrong Arm." And kudos to Wilfrid Hyde-White, masterminding the whole thing from his vantage point as a venal vicar! As usual, there is strong support, as well, from the unsung females, the buxom and zany Liz Fraser as Sellers' girlfriend, Ethel, and the incomparable Irene Handl as Cribbins "mum." A delight all-round!
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For its day, a most enjoyable and influential film.
johnson5030 November 2003
A very influential film in the history of the British cinema that spawned one of the most popular TV series that there has ever been in Britain.

The characters are all wonderful. Peter Sellers as the suave and crafty Dodger, Bernard Cribbins as the not too bright Lenny, David Lodge as the old lag Jelly, Lionel Jeffries in a masterful performance as Mr. Crout (who bears more than a passing resemblance to Hitler), Wilfred Hyde White as the slippery and devious Soapy Stevens and, my favourite, Liz Fraser as the ravishing Ethel. Most of these characters plus others were lifted wholesale from the film, with name changes, to form the cast of the hit TV series 'Porridge', still one of the funniest things on British TV, even 30 years down the line.

The plot is inventive and extremely silly, if a little predictable, and there are plenty of laughs even if some of the vehicles are pretty well tried. The film stands the test of time well I feel. The characters are well stereotyped and so live on and prison doesn't change much, I suppose, and so it retains its relevance.

Quite what non-British viewers would make of it, I'm not sure, as there is much British slang in the dialogue and much of it would be meaningless, but if you can get round that, this film is well worth a watch.
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A hilarious prison and caper comedy
grstmc20 April 2002
This effort may not have been all that taxing on the considerable talents of the great Peter Sellers, but the character of Dodger Lane is an original, and the star gives a sly, confident performance as an unreformed "model prisoner" and untrustworthy trustee.

TWO-WAY STRETCH involves a trio of prison cell-mates who help to devise a crime with a twist. All they have to do is sneak out on the night before they're due to be released, pull off their latest heist, and then return before being missed, thereby providing themselves with a foolproof alibi in addition to their ill-gotten gains.

Huntleigh Prison is a very liberal institution, and Dodger (Sellers) takes full advantage of this, making his cell a home away from home. With the assistance of his two partners, Lennie Price (Bernard Cribbins) and Jelly Knight (David Lodge), he's practically running the place, and the three of them make a great comic team.

They don't plan on having any trouble sneaking out of Huntleigh, but that was before the appointment of the new head guard, Sidney "Sour" Crout (played by Lionel Jeffries), a tough disciplinarian, who barks rather than speaks. Why, he even expects the inmates to actually do some work in the rock quarry . . .before the arrival of their morning newspaper. Although Crout's presence disrupts their escape plans, the intrepid Dodger refuses to give up.

Also on hand is old reliable Wilfrid Hyde-White as Soapy Stevens, a crony who enlists Dodger for the heist; Maurice Denham as the hopelessly well-meaning warden; Irene Handl as crooked Ma Price; and the indispensable Liz Fraser as Ethel, Dodger's shapely girlfriend.

Everything clicks and there is never a dull moment in this hilarious comedy. There's nothing profound or insightful about it but that's one of the reasons why it's good. My rating of TWO-WAY STRETCH is a definite four stars out of five.
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Whimsical British comedy
Megabuck27 August 1999
Describing a film as 'lightweight' shouldn't always be seen as a criticism. Two Way Stretch deserves the description, but it should be seen as praise rather than a put-down.

Back in the 50s and 60s, the British film industry seemed able to churn out these comedy films at the drop of a hat. The Ealing Comedies are the best known, but there are also any number starring Norman Wisdom, and also a few gems with Peter Sellers in them.

Sellers takes the leading role here, that of a criminal in the last weeks of his sentence. He and his three cell mates are drawn into a daring robbery - one that involves them breaking out the night before their release, then breaking back in again, thereby ensuring they have a watertight alibi. Just about every character in the film is a caricature - the kind-hearted chief warder, the bumbling prison governor intent on seeing only the best in everyone, the army chief in charge of moving the jewels. Yet it all works, so long as you don't go in expecting some significant piece of cinema.

An excellent cast, with Sellers on top form. Maurice Denham, as the governor, Lionel Jeffries, as the control-freak warder, and Wilfred Hyde-White, as the crook planning the robbery, are worth singling out.
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Hilarious, Unmissable Madcap British Comedy Of Prison Breakout Scam
ShootingShark21 August 2005
Warning: Spoilers
A trio of convicts, Dodger, Jelly and Lennie, get involved in a diamond heist with the ultimate alibi - they plan to break out of prison, nick the swag, and then break back in. However, their plans are given a serious setback when the kindly chief guard retires and is replaced by the pathologically meticulous Sidney "Sour" Crout ...

This is a classic British comedy, with a fantastic script by John Warren and Len Heath. The central idea, the characters and the dialogue are all brilliant, as is the wonderful cast. Sellers is tremendous, at that perfect point in his career where he was totally focused but not yet overcome with international stardom, and Jeffries gives the quintessential ramrod-back, no-nonsense, bark-at-everything, British comedy authority figure ("Silence when you're talking to me !!" he screams at a prisoner). White, Cribbins and Handl are especially terrific - there's a lovely visiting-day scene where Handl is berating Cribbins for bringing the family name into disrepute by not attempting to escape more often. The movie is full of wonderful banter ("Close the window Lennie, there's a bit of a George Raft coming in."), and each sequence builds beautifully into a wonderful comedy heist picture. This film, which I always consider a companion piece to the equally brilliant The Wrong Arm Of The Law, represents the very best of British film comedy, nestling somewhere between Ealing and Monty Python. Magic.
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Cor Blimey Guv!
RussianPantyHog9 March 2004
Warning: Spoilers
(Small SPOILERS):Now why can't we Brits make films like this any more. Hilarious. Peter Sellers is a prison inmate and along with his 2 buddies they plan a robbery with the ultimate alibi; they break out of jail, do the deed and then slip back in before anyone's the wiser. At least, that was the theory. Lionel Jeffries plays a deliciously horrible "screw" and the whole caper is masterminded by Wilfred Hyde White (RIP) as "Soapie Stevens", a fake vicar. I don't want to give away any details which might spoil it, however, the scene where Chief Officer Crout finally recognises Soapie at the rail station is an absolute classic. No one in the history of cinema has EVER uttered "Cor Blimey" with more conviction :) I agree with what others have said, that this movie probably inspired the - equally wonderful - tv series Porridge, 14 years later. It's a shame that all the reviews of this film have come from British folks. I'd like to see what Americans make of it? Anyway, a lovely classic British comedy. Look out for Warren Mitchell in a small early role as the prison's slimey tailor. Who'd ever guess Alf Garnett was actually Jewish?
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Lionel Jeffries steals the show.
jd-11617 March 2004
I found this film hilarious when I first saw it on general release as a small boy, and if anything I find it even funnier now. This film is listed as an early Peter Sellars vehicle, but his fans should be warned that the great Lionel Jeffries steals every scene he is in, starring as the disciplinarian Chief Prison Officer Sidney Crout, "The most evil twisted screw that ever crept down a prison corridor". Great performances too from David Lodge, Bernard Cribbins, Maurice Denham, Irene Handl and Wilfred Hyde-White make this a real repertory ensemble production. And what a witty script. Definitely one of my top ten favourite films of all time (and I bet it didn't cost more than £25,000 to make).


How could I omit to mention the ravishing Liz Fraser? Funny and gorgeous!
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Peter Sellers finest film!
mcgoverngarrett22 May 2000
This 1960 M. Smedley Aston production has everything lovers of classic British comedy could hope for.Sellers plays Dodger Lane,a lag who is having such a cushy time in the clink he couldn't care less whether he gets out or not.'Rooming' with two old chums they plan an unlikely heist of priceless diamonds while still inside. This is probably my favourite Sellers comedy of all time with marvellous performances from all concerned.Star of the show, hands down,has to be Lionel Jeffries as the hard-boiled prison officer 'Crouty' who is hell-bent on making the lads last few days of incarceration as miserable as possible. If you haven't seen this movie you're in for a treat.Forget Inspector Clouseau,this is the definitive Peter Sellers.
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Excellent and underrated!
naseby18 June 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I'm giving this ten out of ten, one, because it's so good, and two, because it doesn't get the appraisal it deserves! A bunch of crooks, already in the nick, plan the perfect alibi for a 'blag'. To break out, do the job and break in again is the plan of course,(especially as they're at the end of their sentences in a couple of weeks' time to enjoy the booty (diamonds)). Thinking they'll be aided indirectly by the laid back and naive George Woodbridge (The prison chief), he announces his retirement, so the boys have to think again, especially as he's replaced by the 'most vicious screw' Crout, played brilliantly by Lionel Jeffries. Peter Sellers, as 'Dodger' Lane, heads the gang aided well by both Dave ('Jelly Knight') Lodge and Bernard ('Lenny the Dip') Cribbins. The boys manage to still steal a march nonetheless helped along with the 'outside' work being done by Wilfrid Hyde-White (The excellent 'Soapy Stevens' posing as the boys' 'vicar'!), Liz Fraser and Irene Handl. The 'relaxed' attitude of the prison, run by the Governor, Maurice Denham,("Come in Chief, the door ain't locked"), plenty of ahead-of-the-time double-entendres (regarding the governor's marrow, for one!) all contribute for a really good old-fashioned British romp that set Sellers up for the king of comedy of this era. Plenty of laughs and very familiar supporting faces, including one from 'Jones' played by Mario Fabrizi who sadly committed suicide owing to not getting much work as an actor. Warren Mitchell also makes a small but worthwhile appearance. This really is worth keeping in your video/DVD collection and watching every now and then for a golden age of plot, script and character acting of the very best calibre!
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Entertaining comedy film.
hedgehog-1029 June 1999
An excellent film with well acted parts by all the actors, especially the supporting cast. Also an original ending to get around the UK Censor requirements of the day, that criminals can't be seen to profit from their crimes. Lionel Jeffries is excellent as the hard disciplined prison officer, who is eventually caught out by the criminals.
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Under-rated gaol house farce
Chase_Witherspoon2 July 2010
A trio of prisoners, aided by outsiders, plan and execute an elaborate escape plan from under the nose of militant prison guard (Jeffries) and the gardening fanatic warden (Denham). Sellers is superb as the mischievous Dodger, with David Lodge and bumbling Bernard Cribbins his cohorts on the inside. Criminal mastermind Soapy Stevens (Hyde-White) who engineered Sellers' incarceration is top of the wanted list, and Sellers is determined to get him his comeuppance. Also hilarious is Irene Handl and Liz Fraser as the 'girls', using their collective skills (brains and beauty, respectively) to aid and abet Sellers' escape plan.

Jeffries is the real sleeper here; his comical, gestapo like prison captain, continually tortured by Sellers' antics, earns him the ire of the usually passive warden Maurice Denham (Denham more concerned with the quality and size of his garden produce than Jeffries' constant bleating about Sellers). The bane of his existence, Jeffries promises to catch Sellers out, but of course, he only ends up with egg on his face, again and again. Poor Lionel.

Liz Fraser is a voluptuous beauty, and her thick cockney accent and dumb-blonde demeanour make her the ideal vice. Her knack for these type of parts earned her recurring roles in several "Carry On" films later in the sixties, a series that excelled at 'accentuating' her talents, you might say. The mercurial Bernard Cribbins, a relative newcomer in this picture, also had the good fortune to team up in a couple of "Carry On" films, as well as several other Sellers' vehicles.

Not just a Sellers picture, all the cast succeed with their timing and delivery, but it's Lionel Jeffries who showed here his diverse ability to express humour, in addition to the straight roles he played throughout his long and distinguished career. Slapstick and farce, simple to enjoy, highly recommended.
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Cheerful, upbeat combination prison comedy and heist flick...
moonspinner5529 August 2009
Three cell-mates in a leisurely-run prison plot to temporarily escape their confines, steal a shipment of gems belonging to an Arabian Sultan, and return to jail in time for the warden to sign their release. Silly, basically inconsequential, but often very funny, well-performed British comedy featuring Peter Sellers as the leader of the cheerfully crooked trio, Wilfrid Hyde-White as a con artist posing as a priest. Amiable accouterments, such as a lively credits sequence and a terrific score from Ken Jones, adds to the fun, though Lionel Jeffries overdoes the buffoonish bit as the heartless new prison chief. **1/2 from ****
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Very entertaining caper
funkyfry12 November 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Peter Sellers plays Dodger Lane, a young career criminal who agrees to take part in a caper planned by his mentor, Soapy Stevens (Wilfrid Hyde-White), which involves sneaking out of prison the day before he was to be released. This of course gives him a perfect alibi so that no one will suspect that he and his friends (David Lodge and Bernard Cribbins) were behind the theft of the Sultan's jewels. Also along for the ride are Cribbins' crotchety mother (Irene Handl), who berates him for not attempting to escape prison like his father and uncles, and Lane's girl Ethel (Liz Fraser) who dreams of settling down with Lane in some kind of suburban bliss. Standing in the way of their well-orchestrated plans is a new hard-nosed prison guard, Sidney Crout, played by Lionel Jeffries.

The plot is engaging and the film moves quickly through events so that one never grows bored with what are, after all, fairly typical characters and situations for anybody who's seen a caper comedy before. Although Sellers is in fine form as the crafty and self-satisfied Dodger Lane, Lionel Jeffries manages to steal the film. This is something of a shock to me personally, since I've mostly seen Jeffries in his later films where he comes off rather hammy. Here he's just brilliant as the perfect caricature of a by-the-books authoritarian, a performance that brings to mind Michael Bates' performance as the Chief Guard in "A Clockwork Orange." When Jeffries screams out orders (which is often), you're half expecting the veins on the back of his neck to pop out of the skin. When he's humiliated by the conniving Lane and his friends, suckered into standing too close to a dynamite blast at the rock quarry, he contains just enough of his anger and holds onto his dignity (despite his tattered uniform and sooty face) so that we can laugh at him and even feel a bit sorry for the old blighter.

The film on the whole doesn't have quite the zest and inventiveness of the more famous Ealing capers like "Ladykillers", but it unfolds at a pleasant pace that allows us to fully enjoy the great comedic performances from Sellers, Jeffries, and Hyde-White.
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An almost forgotten little gem
MartinHafer24 January 2009
This is a not particularly famous comedy starring Peter Sellers. It's rather sad that all Sellers is known for today, for the most part, are the Pink Panther movies, as he made many lovely small-time movies in the UK that are hardly ever seen in the United States. Most were made before the Panther movies and sadly, other than Panther films, most of what we do seem to see here are his lesser films from the 60s and 70s. Thankfully, THE FIENDISH PLOT OF FU MANCHU is seldom seen on American television (uggh).

Unlike so many of these little films, however, Sellers plays a role that is relatively "normal"--without the odd accents or flamboyant acting. Instead, while a comedy, he plays his part of a prisoner rather straight. This isn't bad, however, as the film is a very low-key comedy and many of the supporting actors help out quite a bit with the comedy--particularly Lionel Jeffries, who plays a rather uptight guard.

The film begins with Sellers and his buddies incarcerated in one of the worst prisons in the UK. Colonel Klink of "Hogan's Heroes" did a much better job of running a tight prison compared to the Governor (Maurice Denham)! Despite being a con-man and habitual crook, Sellers is made a trustee and practically every sort of vice occurs right under the guards' noses. In fact, it's so lax there that when an old partner (Wilfrid Hyde-White) of Sellers arrives (disguised as a minister), Sellers and his friends agree to sneak out of prison a day before their discharge to commit a crime and then sneak back--guaranteeing them the perfect alibi. All looks like it will go like clockwork until the head guard is replaced by a martinet played by Lionel Jeffries. They are ready to abandon their plans when they realize that they can get past Jeffries--it will just take a lot more patience and planning.

There's a lot more to the film than this, but I don't want to spoil it. The bottom line is that the script is just lovely and it's no wonder that the film works so well. A nice little almost forgotten gem.
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Sellers Behind Bars!
ShadeGrenade1 January 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Peter Sellers in the innocent days before Hollywood got hold of him. 'Two Way Stretch' is a bright and breezy British comedy typical of the period.

He plays 'Dodger Lane', a Cockney crook imprisoned at H.M.P. Huntleigh, along with safe cracker 'Jelly' Knight ( David Lodge ) and pickpocket 'Lennie The Dip' Price ( Bernard Cribbins ). To say they are having a cushy time would be an understatement. A milkman delivers Gold Top each morning, along with food and newspapers, and their cell is, according to C.P.O. Jenkins ( George Woodbridge ) 'the best place in the nick to get a cup of tea'. They even have a cat, appropriately named 'Strangeways'. As the film opens, Dodger is recovering from a surfeit of sherry trifle.

The lads are due for release in a few days' time. Then fellow crook Soapy Stevens ( Wilfrid Hyde-White ) turns up, posing as a vicar. He escaped imprisonment after their last job because he was the only one with a water-tight alibi. Stevens has learnt that a Sultan's diamonds to be conveyed through the area under army escort. Stevens wants Dodger and the lads to steal the consignment. Knowing that this time, they are the ones with the perfect alibi, they readily agree. There are just two minor problems - firstly, they need to break out of the nick, and secondly, Jenkins' replacement is none other than C.P.O. Sidney Crout ( Lionel Jeffries ), a hard-faced warder who regards all convicts as scum...

John Warren ( who wrote a lot of Dick Emery's shows ) and Len Heath's script is full of wonderful comic ideas and lines, and directed with a sure touch by Robert Day. One has to wonder whether or not the B.B.C. sitcom 'Porridge' derived any inspiration from this, so closely does the latter resemble the former ( curiously, 1965's 'Rotten To The Core' starring Anton Rodgers also features crooks named 'Jelly' Knight and 'Lennie The Dip', though played by Kenneth Griffith and Dudley Sutton. Coincidence? Or was 'Core' originally planned as a sequel to 'Stretch?' ).

Alongside the main cast are old favourites Liz Fraser, Irene Handl ( delightful as Lenny's toothless mum ), Warren Mitchell, Thorley Walters ( as a dimwitted army officer ), Mario Fabrizi, Maurice Denham, Beryl Reid, and Arthur Mullard. The latter gets one of the best lines. Visited by his wife and her baby, he asks how old it is. "Eight months!" comes the reply. Arthur looks chuffed at first, and then baffled: "But I've been inside for two years!".

As was the case with most of the films he appeared in, Lionel Jeffries effortlessly steals the film. He is able to make you laugh by simply bellowing "On the double!" and that takes some doing.

My only complaint is that the film does not really ( pardon the pun ) stretch Sellers as an actor. He is good as the lovable 'Dodger', but the role could have been played by anybody. One wonders whether Sid James could have done just as good a job.

If 'Two Way Stretch' is not a part of your collection of classic British comedy films, you should put that right immediately.

Funniest moment? Its got to be the scene in the yard where Crout is trying to exercise the convicts by making them jump up and down on the spot. He does not know that beneath him is part of a tunnel dug by Lennie and Jelly. He soon finds out - by falling into it!

Happy New Year to you all, by the way.
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Best British comedy you've never heard of
AlsExGal15 September 2017
Peter Sellers plays the most normal of the characters, even if he is a convicted felon, which is unusual for those of us familiar mostly with his later films. Sellers plays one of a group of guys behind bars who plan the perfect crime - they'll commit a jewel robbery and be back in prison before anybody notices. Their current guard is about to retire - as in BEFORE the heist, but they figure the same easy-going type will replace him. They are dead wrong. Instead, Lionel Jeffries was hysterically funny as the tough guard ready to shape up the prisoners. Favorite line: "SILENCE when you're talking to me!" And will it be possible when doing jumping jacks not to think of a particular scene in this film? How are they ever going to pull this off with this guard around? And there are other problems as well.

Irene Handl was also wonderful as the mother of the none too bright prisoner Lenny, played by Bernard Cribbins. Mom is upset that he isn't living up to the family tradition of trying to escape from prison.   Of course, there's also Maurice Denham as the prison warden whose vegetable marrow is the subject of several double entendres, and Liz Fraser as Sellers' Monroe-esque girlfriend, and, well, the whole cast, every one of whom knows how play this comic style. I had never heard of the director, Robert Day.   See it if it comes your way.
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You are sentenced to 80 minutes of hilarity.
mark.waltz10 April 2017
Warning: Spoilers
There's a delightful slyness to this British prison comedy that fools its audience from the start by having Peter sellers playing a character who looks like Peter Sellers! This is the first time where I see him looking and acting like he might on a daily basis, that is if he weren't well, Peter Sellers. He's a conman serving his sentence, visited by preacher Wilfred Hyde White on the pretense of saving his soul, and finding himself involved in a breakout attempt (only overnight you see...) to aide his old partner (White!) in completing a robbery, obviously establishing alibis, and foolproof. Everything is a o.k. until a notoriously tough guard (Lionel Jeffries) arrives, risking exposure and putting the caper at risk.

A great series of sight gags are clever and hysterical. The cake made for a departing guard by one of the prisoner's mothers contains a file (habit the prisoner says), and Jeffries' attempts to lead the prisoners in rigorous exercise leads to him falling though the ground into an old escape tunnel. This moves very fast, features a great musical score, and makes some wise commentary about the pompousness of certain types of authority figures. I really longed to see this group of cons get away with their caper, and certainly not see Jeffries (comically cold) succeed in being successful in his style of rehabilitation.
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Very funny comedy
blanche-231 October 2009
Peter Sellers, Wilfrid Hyde-White and Lionel Jeffries star in "Two-Way Stretch," a wonderful British 1960 comedy. David Lodge, Bernard Cribbins, Maurice Denham, Irene Handl and Beryl Reid also star. Sellers and his cronies (Lodge and Cribbins) are prisoners living the good life - milk and newspaper delivered by rope up the side of the prison daily, a stash of booze, breakfast in their cell, no work at the quarry, and an obliging guard (George Woodbridge).

The vicar from their local church visits, and it turns out it's not the vicar at all, but Soapy (Wilfrid Hyde-White), who is responsible for all of them being in prison in the first place. During the last heist, he was the only one with an alibi. Now he proposes a diamond robbery where the boys escape prison, do the robbery, and return. A perfect robbery and a perfect alibi.

Unfortunately, this is to occur after their guard is to retire, but Sellers is convinced the next guard will be a semi-retired, easygoing guy as well. Instead, it's Lionel Jeffries, whose role model seems to have been Adolph Hitler.

Very funny film, spoiled a bit for me by the fact that it was difficult to understand the dialogue. Some great scenes: visitors' day for the prisoners; Jeffries' attempts to find their escape routes; the warden missing his watch; many others. They may have said this during the movie and I didn't catch it, but at one point, they attempt to escape by using an exercise horse in the prison yard to cover the spot where they're tunneling. This device was actually used by real prisoners of war to escape during World War II.

British cinema just tossed these little gems out, and several of this type of film have gone on to become classics. This should really be another classic, if it isn't. It's great fun with marvelous characters and performances.
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markmcblain20 March 2019
Dodger (Peter Sellers), is the Grouty of his nick. He shares a cell with two lags, David Lodge and Bernard Cribbins. The Governor prides himself as being 'progressive'. This all turns to dust when Wilfred Hyde White turns up as a bogus clergyman. Lionel Jeffries steals every scene as a new warden. This is what Porridge was based on. The whole muse en scene is Slade Prison, Fletcher, Godber, Warren, McClaren, Barrowclough and MacKay. It is so well acted. Lines are crisply delivered. It is a joy. I love it so much. So will you.
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When Peter Sellars was funny
lenny190925 December 2005
I first saw "Two Way Stretch" when I was about 8 years and it is still one of my favourite films. I don't understand the criticism that it is deja vu of Porridge when it came out more than a decade earlier but maybe I'm just not that bright.

One point which interests me is that for all his abilities as a character actor mimic and impressionist Peter Sellars is far more believable and as Dodger Lane than he ever was as Inspector Clouseau, any of the Americans he ever played or anyone else with the possible exception of "Pearly" Gates in Wrong Arm of the Law. Is this because at heart actors - no matter how talented - are significantly better at characters and accents they grew up with.

I've no doubt that Bob Hoskins would have done a workmanlike Al Capone in the Untouchables but how could a Londoner compare with New York Italian American Robert De Niro. Similarly Anthony Hopkins did a perfectly good Nixon but Jason Robards was Nixon.

Would it have been better if Peter Sellars had stuck more to his roots playing Brits rather than trying to become the man of a thousand voices and increasingly artificial, self indulgent and boring in all of them?
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See Peter Sellers Plot
gelman@attglobal.net21 April 2012
The sole reason to see "Two-Way Stretch" -- and not a good one -- to watch Peter Sellers at work early in his career. He displays exactly none of the comic ability that later made him famous. Except for Wilfred Hyde White as an outside confederate of Sellers and his two prison companions who regularly visits them disguised as a vicar, the other members of the cast strive entirely too hard, without much success, to provoke laughter. The film has a preposterous premise and a large number of preposterous moments. That would be okay if the preposterous plot, the preposterous moments, and the preposterous characters were funny but they rarely are. The only thing one can say for them is that they get more laughs than Sellers. Based on this film alone, it's hard to understand why his career took off.
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Serving Time With Sellers
slokes23 January 2010
There was a time in the early 1960s when people took a new Peter Sellers comedy for granted. You could count on a clever if lightweight plot, an established cast of colorful supporting actors, and the man himself showing off a new comic accent. "Two-Way Stretch" falls right into place.

This time Sellers is "Dodger" Lane, a robber doing time at the cushy H.M. Prison Huntleigh with pals Jelly Knight (David Lodge) and Lennie the Dip (Bernard Cribbins). Their imprisonment is the perfect alibi for a jewel heist planned by their shady partner Soapy Stevens (Wilfrid Hyde-White). Just as the boys are about to sneak out and steal the lolly, a nasty guard named "Sour" Crout (Lionel Jeffries) turns up on their cell block.

Sellers sprinkles Lane with a touch of Cockney but doesn't push himself much. The opening scene, of him yawning in bed as his mates assemble a posh breakfast, sets us up on the right note. The friendly old warden (George Woodbridge) knocks on the cell door before entering. "Oh, come on in, Chief, it ain't locked!" Dodger calls out from his pillow.

With Lodge, Woodbridge, Cribbins as well as Irene Handl, Liz Fraser, and Thorley Walters all on hand, it's like a convention of Sellers supporting players. Did Graham Stark and Kenneth Griffiths have doctor's notes that month? The film manages to be entertaining without being that sharp. The amiable nature of prison life pre-Crout is enjoyably established (complete with shop classes where Jelly instructs on safe-cracking techniques), and Crout's own arrival leads to some Wile E. Coyote hi-jinks. Crout even manages to get blown up without any damage except to his clothes (and pride).

A long-running side joke about the prison governor showing off his prize squash becomes the subject of labored double-entendres ("I brought this off myself" he tells a trio of society ladies as the camera angle suggests they are staring not at his plant but his crotch.) Many other one-liners also fall flat, but the camaraderie of the three lead prisoners and the way the film plays out the big heist keeps you engaged and entertained, if never quite laughing out loud.

Sellers plays Dodger as very much focused on the jewel caper, even to the point of ignoring Fraser's panting efforts to kindle some romance. It's as if he and director Robert Day didn't trust the thin storyline to handle any of Sellers' typically wilder and more solitary comedy stylings. Jeffries emerges as the principal butt of humor, while the other actors all get turns in the spotlight. Hyde-White is especially good as the film's most crooked character, smiling beatifically throughout, while Cribbins, Lodge, and Handl mesh together quite well.

Like AdamFontaine noted in his review here, Sellers doesn't seem terribly necessary; any leading comic actor who could play a crook would have done just as well. Maybe Sellers really was as tired as he acts it here (he starred in seven films in just 1960 and 1961); maybe he was trying to be less selfish on camera. If the latter, he succeeds!

"Two-Way Stretch" may have been a time-killer for its star, but at least it was a pleasant one. Like other commenters note, it comes from a time when comedies were supposed to make you laugh, not hit you over the head with attitude or social comment. "Two-Way Stretch" is not much of a stretch in any direction; just easy to enjoy.
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Very funny without really having to try
badajoz-112 July 2009
Warning: Spoilers
A comedy that still stands up nearly fifty years later!! Note to Rogen, Stiller, Ferrell, Wilsons et al - you should watch how really good comic actors can make the simplest material work for them by not working too hard for laughs, or trying to look too clever! Peter Sellers is excellent but so are the rest of the cast, and he does not try to dominate as the star attraction. Lionel Jeffries is superb, and the script easy and very funny. The plot of how to rob a load of diamonds whilst apparently in jail is brilliantly executed, and look at Thorley Walters for a faultless Army di**head officer underplayed superbly trying unsuccessfully to guard the treasure! However, seeing it in 2009 - doesn't it remind you rather of 'Porridge?' Yes, it seems La Frenais and partner really did take a long look at this beautiful little film!
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