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Two Way Stretch (1960, Peter Sellers, Lionel Jeffries)

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John Warren, Len Heath and Alan Hackney came up with an inspired screenplay for Two Way Stretch which cast Peter Sellers as Dodger Lane, a criminal who, with Lennie Price (Bernard Cribbins) and Jelly Knight (David Lodge), is happily incarcerated in the prison run like a home-from-home for old lags by the liberal governor (Maurice Denham).

Crook Soapy Stevens (Wilfrid Hyde White), masquerading as a clergyman, joins forces with Dodger and his two cell-mates to commit the crime of the century. The plan is simple – Dodger, Lennie and Jelly will break out of jail, steal a fortune in jewels from a maharajah, and then break back into prison to provide themselves with a foolproof alibi. But the scheme is almost torpedoed by the arrival of sadistic prison officer Crout (Lionel Jeffries), who shakes them out of their cosy jail routine. Criminality prevails, however, and Crout is suitably dealt with before Dodger, Lennie and Jelly, helped by Dodger’s girlfriend Ethel (Liz Fraser) and her mother Mrs Price (Irene Handl), duly escape from jail in a Black Maria, pull off the robbery, and then return to jail.

The screenplay fairly fizzes with good visual and verbal jokes and cleverly contrived comic situations and was played with practised skill by the first-rate cast. When the film was released, the Variety Club of Great Britain voted Sellers actor of the year for Two Way Stretch, The Millionairess, The Mouse That Roared and Never Let Go.

production details
UK / 84 minutes / 1960

Director: Robert Day
Writers: Vivian Cox, John Warren, Len Heath,

cast
Peter Sellers as Dodger Lane
Lionel Jeffries as Chief P.O. Sidney Crout
David Lodge as Jelly Knight
George Woodbridge as Chief P.O. Jenkins
John Harvey as Governor Rockhampton Prison
Maurice Denham as The Governor
Bernard Cribbins as Lennie Price
Irene Handl as Mrs. Price
Liz Fraser as Ethel
Wilfrid Hyde-White as Soapy Stevens

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