Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Odd Couple (1968)

Oscar Madison (Walter Matthau) is divorced and lives in a huge apartment that often hosts Poker Night with the guys. Felix Ungar (Jack Lemmon) is a part of the regular Poker Night crowd, but something is amiss when he doesn't show up with his usual punctuality. When Felix finally appears, he is distraught because he has been kicked out of his house and his wife wants a divorce. Oscar does the only thing he knows to do which is to invite him to move in until he can get his life sorted out again. Unfortunately, no good deed goes unpunished.

This is one of those that I had seen bits and pieces of throughout the years, but never sat down to watch the whole thing beginning to end. I swear, you can't get better buddies for a buddy movie. Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon are great as the bickering "couple". I love movies that simplify the plot to the point that they just allow a couple of characters to exist in a space to see what will happen. That is exactly what this movie is about and the characters leap off the screen for our entertainment.

One of my favorite scenes is when their relationship is wearing thin and Oscar is almost at the end of his rope. He finally lets loose with this rant, "I can't take it anymore, Felix, I'm cracking up. Everything you do irritates me. And when you're not here, the things I know you're gonna do when you come in irritate me. You leave me little notes on my pillow. I told you 158 times I can't stand little notes on my pillow. 'We're all out of cornflakes. F.U.' It took me three hours to figure out F.U. was Felix Ungar!" Hahahahaha! That made me laugh out loud.

Okay, I can't let it go with one favorite scene. I have to add in the bit about Jack Lemmon in the restaurant making that awful noise to try to open his ears. I have to admit, I would have just gotten up and walked out on him, but it was hilarious.

So if you are looking for a discussion about archetypal relationships as they relate to male friendships or something like that, you have come to the wrong place. I can't add anything that hasn't been said a hundred times about this thoroughly entertaining movie. It is an incredibly witty film thanks to the brilliant script by Neil Simon. It is a delight to watch Lemmon and Matthau play off each other. It is a must see comedy, beginning to end, and all those delicious funny bits in between.


kda0121 said...

The Odd Couple is a very good movie, which makes me feel a bit embarrassed to say that I don't like it that much. I saw the tv show starring Tony Randall and Jack Klugman many years before I was able to catch the movie and the television show was much zanier. I like both Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau immensely, but I really got used to Tony Randall as Felix and to me he just seems more suited to the role. I think I prefer Matthau as Oscar, but the original movie just seemed so much more downbeat than the tv show and I wasn't expecting all that melancholy after years of yukking it up over the tv show.

AbbyNormal said...

Karl - I am shocked that you didn't like it much? I have to admit, I have never seen the tv show so I have nothing with which to compare the movie or characters so I can't really have a lively discussion about it, unfortunately. I guess my question would be, could Randall still make that throat clearing noise with authenticity and own it like Lemmon did? :-)

Thanks for commenting!

kda0121 said...

Tony made an excellent noise. His Felix was a little more prissy than Lemmon's which I thought worked well to even more accentuate the oppositeness between he and Oscar. Like I said, I can recognize that the movie is good, but to me it was so different in mood than the tv show that I've just never been able to warm up to it. Conversely, the sequel, The Odd Couple II is not a very good movie, but I enjoyed it more, because Matthau and Lemmon played their characters broader.

AbbyNormal said...

"Tony made an excellent noise". Oh that makes me laugh. Good one, Karl. :-)

Jennythenipper said...

I have to agree a little bit with Karl on this. I was introduced to the Odd Couple through the TV show and the play. Matthau and lemmon didn't quite fit my ideas of the parts the first time I watched the movie simply because Klugman and Randall were good too and they were in my brain first.

I watched it again pretty recently and I changed my mind. I love these two actors so much and they are so great together. They are the original buddy movie buddies.

AbbyNormal said...

Jenny & Karl - I guess this means I need to now search out the TV show sometime and see what you both are talking about. :-)