Not Only But Always (2004)

This clever little biopic traces the partnership of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, from their successes on stage and television to their film careers together and apart. As depicted though, the term partnership may be overstating it, for even Moore is led to wonder if theirs is a collaboration or a gladiatorial combat.

 

Focusing primarily on Cook, the film shows how despite their differences, the pair immediately hit it off, often finishing each other’s jokes. Yet while it was Cook’s acerbic wit that was rightly recognised as the genius behind the team, it was ‘cuddly Dudley’ that won popular acclaim.

 

What sets this biopic apart from many others is its framing device. So often clumsily used to propel the story forward, framing devices can often seem perfunctory or, at its worst, disastrous (Liz & Dick). Here it works magnificently, opening with Pete and Dud (in black and white) taking their seats in an empty theatre to watch their own biopic, which as Pete explains "being a modern film, it begins in the middle".

Rest assured the biopic returns to the beginning shortly afterwards, though Pete wished it had started at the end because he is easily bored. Pete and Dud continue to occasionally pop up (still in black and white) to comment on the scene being played out before, much like their characters did in Bedazzled. As such, the biopic constantly recalls the team’s humour while telling the story of a man whose early success ill-prepared him for failure.

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The film shows Cook being handed the divorce papers from his first wife Wendy just before a show in New York, whereas the papers actually came through while the team were in Sydney, Australia.

Only scene recreation in this biopic is a glimpse of Dudley Moore's 10. There is however a scene depicting the team during the filming of Bedazzled that reveals the film's evocation of the comedy team.

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