‘Two Into One’ is an awful piece of writing, an antediluvian sex farce of the sort that was living on borrowed time even when it premiered, back in 1981. And goddammit, it’s directed with real, undeniable skill by its 81-year-old creator and co-star, Ray Cooney (best known for another ’80s sex farce, ‘Run for Your Wife’, recently adapted into a flop movie starring Danny Dyer).
My young PC brain cells are trying to commit hara-kiri just attempting to recall the plot of ‘Two Into One’, but basically Michael Praed’s suave Tory MP Richard Willey (pronounced ‘willy’, of course) has come to London with his wife Pamela (Josefina Gabrielle) to vote on a vice bill in the Commons. And he’s taken it as an opportunity to get up to some vice of his own – knowworrimean? While Pamela heads out to watch ‘Evita’, Richard plans to spend the afternoon in the hotel with his own blonde bombshell. But his plans are thrown into disarray after randy Pam sacks off Lloyd Webber in favour of trying to have it off with his long-suffering PPS, George (Nick Wilton) – cor!
Literally every line of dialogue is terrible saucy-seaside-postcard claptrap (‘when it comes to pornography, everyone wants to take up a position’ etc etc). The view of women is dated at best, there’s a comedy foreigner in there, at one point Wilton breaks out a verrry dubious accent to conceal his voice from Pamela and a small part of me died inside every time Cooney’s doddery old waiter character showed off his kung fu moves.
And yet. And yet. Ignore the actual words and ‘Two Into One’ works. By the second half the plot has basically become irrelevant – it’s just a bunch of very panicked people slamming doors at extremely high speed, and Cooney marshals the physical business with formidable precision. The mounting look of terror in Wilton’s eyes as he tried to surmount the latest ludicrous obstacle hurled in his path is increasingly hard to resist. I think I probably laughed. A bit.
‘Two Into One’ is a beast from a bygone age and in some ways it feels ridiculous passing judgement on it – it’s like saying whether or not I think woolly mammoths were good. I can’t begrudge Cooney his last hurrah when he’s clearly skilled at what he does, but I can’t really recommend what he does to anybody without a nostalgic hankering for it.
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