I probably could be called a lot of things, some kind and some not so kind. But the one thing that probably most people would say about me is that I’m loyal. Loyal to my job, loyal to my wife, loyal to my son. However, in my life, I have certainly felt the pain of disloyalty, even to the point of infidelity. Despite what people might say or think, you never quite expect it, and furthermore one can’t predict how you might feel or act given the situation. Today’s movie Three into Two Won’t Go explores the idea of what happens when a man cheats on his wife with another woman. However, this woman stays around long after the fact and continues to press into his everyday life until it becomes unbearable. Let’s take a look.
Steve Howard (played by Rod Steiger) is driving down the road listening to some bumpy and festive music while the credits roll. He’s finger-waving and whistling and generally having a good time. All of a sudden, he sees a 19-year-old girl named Ella Patterson (played by Judy Geeson) hitchhiking on the side of the road. He stops the car, and honks for her to walk to the car. She stands her ground, and eventually Steve backs up and lets her inside.
They drive off and head towards Birmingham. Steve admires her female form, and they make small talk about things that they find pleasurable. One of those things, eating, gives Steve the idea that the two should go catch a bite to eat. They stop at a local restaurant, as the young lady hasn’t had anything in the food department all day. We also learn that she has been on the road since last summer and enjoys the thrill of being picked up.
All of that eating makes a woman need to go to the bathroom, and Ella excuses herself. However, the nineteen-year-old doesn’t come out, and after a while Steve realizes she isn’t even in the bathroom anymore. He goes outside and finds the girl lying down in his car, and she has taken the time to put on some weird eye makeup. They drive off. The two make more small talk, we learn that Steve is an assistant sales director for a door-to-door operation and spends a lot of time on the road.
The two take up a room for the night at Hawley Hotel run by Jack Roberts (played by Paul Rogers), an old military friend of Steve’s. They go up to the room. Ella leaves to go to the bathroom and takes a shower down the hall. Meanwhile, Steve decides to go through her things. It’s the usual items except for one little black book. That black book just happens to have all of Ella’s conquests and assigns a letter grade to each of them. It is about that time that Ella interrupts the salesman’s snooping.
Ella decides she no longer needs her towel and goes au naturale. One thing leads to another, and the two do the deed. There is just one little problem. Steve is married. Frances Howard (played by Claire Bloom) is busy moving into her new house and has no idea that her husband is knocking the boots with some nubile nineteen-year-old in a hotel room. But anyone thinking that this one-night love affair stays as a simple bout of infidelity apparently hasn’t read the script nor knows the true intentions of one Miss Ella Patterson.
Fresh off his Best Actor performance in In the Heat of the Night, Rod Steiger gives another excellent performance here as the cheating husband who is almost impossible to like. However, it also takes two to tango, and Judy Geeson plays a very convincing home-wrecker who is certainly no angel herself. The supporting roles also do an adequate job here of getting over their respective characters, including Claire Bloom’s portrayal of Frances Howard. But there is really one problem in all of this.
I always have an issue with films where there is no one to really like. Even the wife is something of a nag and doesn’t exactly provide a “home” that is all that worth coming back to. Don’t even get me started about the mother-in-law. There is a saying, “Get me to care.” Give me characters that I enjoy watching. Naturally this film isn’t going to have a pleasurable outcome, but at least the trip there should be entertaining.
The video is in its 1.78 slightly cropped widescreen (what’s with Kino lately and them cropping 1.85 to 1.78?). This film was shot in and around Camberley, England, but we don’t get to see too much of it, and most of it is indoors. Therefore, the lighting is usually spot-on, and there is nothing here that is too distracting. There are a couple of moments where the film doesn’t feel as preserved, as I detected spots here and there. But if you came to primarily see Judy Geeson in and out of clothing, then you’ll probably not notice a thing.
The audio for this one is DTS-HD MA 2.0 English. Subtitles are also provided in English. The opening music, thanks to the talents of Francis Lai, takes front and center. Its bouncy, jaunty rhythms put the viewer almost into a false sense of security about what’s going to be taking place. The dialog is clear, and while there are no real environmental sounds to speak of, there are no obvious hisses or pops in the audio. Complaints are few to be found unless the viewer can’t get through some of the English accents.
- Trailers: Three into Two Won’t Go, In the Heat of the Night, A Fistful of Dynamite (Duck You Sucker), and The Homecoming
- Audio Commentary featuring Film Historian Troy Howarth and Nathaniel Thompson: These two spend the majority of the commentary talking about Rod Steiger and various things about the movie. However, all too often they go on tangents that might or might not be related to the film at all. For example, they go into the butchered TV Cut and explain all of those details, but they take considerable time to talk about other films that were cut for television. A lot of films. It’s enjoyable; I just wish they would stay on topic more.
- Three Won’t Go Into Two TV Cut 1:39:55 (SD, Full Frame): The television cut is a master class in what not to do in the editing room, even for the sake of making it politically correct so that it’s proper for its intended audience. This cut supposedly includes about 20 minutes of new footage and gives an odd backstory to Ella’s character where she’s a juvenile delinquent and has a parole officer looking for her. Naughty bits are of course taken out, and Steve Howard’s character doesn’t quite seem as bad. The writers, Andrea Newman and Edna O’Brien asked for their names to be taken off this cut; just goes to show you how much they chopped it up.
Proving that awards really don’t mean all that much sometimes, the mother-in-law (played by Peggy Ashcroft) actually was nominated for a best supporting actress at the BAFTA awards. That was perhaps more of a head-scratcher than the bad editing for the television version of this movie. Yes, there are fine performances by Rod Steiger and Claire Bloom, but unfortunately most people in the audience won’t be given a reason to care about the characters. It’s about a guy who sleeps around on his wife and gets burned for it simply because the other woman feels like it. That’s the sole motivation.
If you are one of those who does enjoy the movie, you’ll get a fine disc here by Kino. The video and audio are both very good, and the bonus of having the television cut (a rare move for a film like this) is a wonderful chance to compare the two. An added commentary also brings more to the table, as it helps fill in the gaps of information we might be missing about when it comes to the movie. Recommended for the cuts, but everything else goes a little flat for me. If I want classic infidelity movies, then serve mine with a little Fatal Attraction. Unfortunately not this. Enjoy.