The Odd Couple (1968) starring Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau
Synopsis of The Odd Couple
The Odd Couple asks the question: Can two divorced men, one a slob and the other a neurotic clean freak, live together without driving each other mad?
In The Odd Couple, Felix’s (Jack Lemmon) wife has left him …. And he is contemplating suicide. His friends want to help. One of them, Oscar (Walter Matthau), volunteers to take him in until temporarily. The two of them are like oil and water. Oscar is fun-loving, gregarious and slovenly. However, Felix is a shy, stay-at-home, obsessive-compulsive neat-freak.
Oscar Madison: 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. Told you 158 times I can’t stand little notes on my pillow. “We’re all out of cornflakes. F.U.” Took me three hours to figure out F.U. was Felix Ungar!
I have to say, I was very pleasantly surprised by The Odd Couple. Like many people, I grew up with the TV series, starring Jack Klugman and Tony Randall as the mismatched divorcees, and couldn’t imagine anyone else in the roles. I was very wrong. The movie is absolutely hilarious! Laugh out loud funny, with numerous moments of sweet, touching, and tugging at the heart strings as well. It also definitely starts out a little darker than the television series. Felix, thrown out of his house by the woman he loves, is trying to commit suicide. Thankfully, he’s not successful.
His buddies at his weekly poker party actually care about him, and try to find him — once they find out what’s going on. And big-hearted Oscar, who has a facade of being tough and uncaring, invites his despondent friend to move in with him. Despite knowing that they’re polar opposites. And over time, despite driving each other crazy, each helps the other grow and become a better man. And the journey along the way is touching, sweet — and laugh out loud funny. Over, and over. Both Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau are great actors, and very talented in comedy, and it shows here. The Odd Couple is highly recommended. I rate it a rare 5 stars, and honestly can’t think of any way it could be improved.
Neil Simon has a special genius for finding the great hilarity in ordinary people doing everyday things. Like two divorced men who decide to sh are a New York apartment. That’s the premise of The Odd Couple, though there’s nothing odd in the casting of two Oscar®-winning talents like Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. The two veteran funnymen work together with the precision timing of a vaudeville team, but always with bright spontaneity. Lemmon plays fussy Felix, fastidious to a fault. He proves that cleanliness is next to insanity. Matthau is Oscar, who wreaks havoc on a tidy room with the speed and thoroughness of a tornado. An enduring and endearing picture, with the intelligence one usually misses in comedies.
Oscar Madison: Felix, what about next Friday night? You’re not gonna break up the poker game, are you?
Felix Ungar: Me, never! Marriage may come and go, but the game must go on. So long, Frances.[leaves]
Oscar Madison: So long, Blanche. [sits down at the poker table] Well, what are we gonna do, are we just gonna sit around or are we gonna play poker?
Roy: [they all chime in] Let’s play some poker!
Oscar Madison: Hey boys, boys, boys, let’s watch the cigarette butts, shall we? This is my house, not a pigsty.
- Jack Lemmon (The Great Race) … Felix Ungar
- Walter Matthau (Cactus Flower) … Oscar Madison
- John Fiedler (Fitwilly) … Vinnie
- Herb Edelman … Murray
- David Sheiner (The Greatest Story Ever Told) … Roy
- Larry Haines … Speed
- Monica Evans (The Aristocats) … Cecily
- Carole Shelley (The Aristocats) … Gwendolyn
- Iris Adrian (Blondie’s Hero) … Waitress