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The Odd Couple 1968
Description: Felix Ungar has just broken up with his wife. Despondent, he goes to slay himself but is saved by his mate Oscar Madison. With nowhere else to go, Felix is urged by Oscar to transport in with him, at least for a while. The only trouble is that Felix is neat, tidy, and neurotic, whereas Oscar is slovenly and casual.
Released: 16 May 1968 Director: Gene Saks Writers: Neil Simon (from the play by), Neil Simon (screenplay) Actors: Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau, John Fiedler, Herb Edelman Genres: Comedy
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The Odd Couple Reviews:

I remember something that Roger Ebert told in an interview with Martin Scorcese. Ebert told that "Raging Bull" was a nice movie. Folks would protest that they didn't wish to see it because they didn't wish to see a movie about boxers. No, Ebert insisted. The topics matter of a movie is not the heart of the film. Rather, it's how well a movie is made that matters. An expertly made movie about boxers is better than a badly made movie about a subject you may be interested in. So, no, I'm not a man; I'm not divorced. But "The Odd Couple" was so well made that I fell in love with it. I surprised myself by laughing out loud throughout the film. "The Odd Couple," of course, is the storyline of news writer Felix Unger leaving his wife and kids and moving in with his friend, sports writer Oscar Madison, who is himself a divorcée. Oscar lives in an eight-room Manhattan apartment, which he used to share with his wife and their kids. Felix is neat; Oscar is messy. Sounds cute trite.But the film is a revelation. The script reveals surprising depth about love, hate, and human relationships. The Walter-Matthau-Jack-Lemmon squad is like a well-oiled machine – they seem to have perfected their shtick together through few lifetimes. Jack Lemmon plays the whole film fully straight. He gives the exact same type of performance as he did when he was acting in "The Days of Wine and Roses," a hyper serious movie about alcoholism. When Lemmon, as Felix, is upset about his meatloaf burning, he shows as much agony as he showed in the previous movie about a drunk crashing his own life. It's hysterically funny to watch this terrible schmuck wrestle with his petty obsessions and compulsions, oblivious to how he affects others. Even as you laugh at him, you realize he can't support himself. Felix Unger has Asperger's. What has changed in America, and American film, that this movie from 1968 feels like a time capsule from a lost moment in America? Oscar lives in a spacious, eight-room Manhattan apartment. Manhattan true estate has become more expensive, of course. But it's more than that. The words that kept going through my head as I was watching the film were "grown-up" and "intelligent." Oscar, Felix, and their poker buddies are six white guys. They meet and enjoy poker. There are no scenes where these adult, white boys are revealed to be inept in comparison to women, blacks, or homosexuals. There are no scenes where the sassy gay boy instructs the straight boys on how to dress or make romance. There are no scenes where the "magical negro" shows the boys that they can't dance. There are no scenes where a girl puts the boys down for not knowing how to take care of kids or shows the boys up as being blinded by lust. There are no scenes where these straight, white boys are made to apologize for being straight, white men. The boys are grownups. They have jobs. They wear adult clothing. They wear white shirts and ties, slacks, belts, and shiny shoes. Oscar does wear a backwards baseball cap, but he is the clown of the group. And he does not wear it throughout the film. When he goes out, he dresses properly. They speak of their marriages as if marriage were something important. They speak of their kids as if they love them. They go on dates. They ask girls out, dress up for the occasion, and create witty banter with subtle double entendres. While watching "The Odd Couple," I thought of newest Judd Apatow comedies starring boys like Jason Segel, Paul Rudd and Jonah Hill. These actual male stars all enjoy children; they all enjoy losers. They enjoy failed men. The humor in these movies is built around what pathetic monsters they are. In "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," Jason Segel, who is fat and prematurely saggy, is shown totally naked. The nakedness highlights his humiliation when his girlfriend, Sarah Marshall, dumps him. These movies all test the F word over and over in a manner that feels desperate and limited. There is one very sly, very funny reference to the f word in "The Odd Couple." Oscar complains to Felix Unger that he is tired of getting tiny notes from Felix like "We are all out of cornflakes. Signed, FU." Oscar tells it took him hours to figure out what "FU" meant. A funny joke. Delivered deliciously. The only time "The Odd Couple" has to refer to the F word to receive a laugh. I've never felt, while watching a Judd Apatow comedy, that I was gaining any insight into the human condition. There are so many payoff moments of absurd comedy in "The Odd Couple," as when Oscar steps on a vacuum cleaner cord and then takes his foot off the cord at just the right moment to send Felix reeling. But there were so many moments that made me say, "Gosh, yes, that's what human relationships are like. That's what it's like to love/hate other human being."I can't imagine a movie like "The Odd Couple" being made today. A genuinely funny, intelligent, rich, grownup comedy about boys that shines light on the human condition and that need never speak the F word to receive a laugh. And I can't imagine anyone another than a Trump being able to afford that eight-room apartment in Manhattan.


I don't think I've really ever given Walter Matthau his due as a comedic performer. He's certainly been unbelievable in plenty of lighthearted roles, but I guess I everytime place his success down to his characters' grumpiness and ruthlessness, a gruff contrast to the flamboyant personality of his frequent co-star Jack Lemmon, and, I suppose, a natural extension of his earlier work in dramatic pictures. Watching Gene Saks' 'The Odd Couple (1968),' adapted from a famous Neil Simon play, the realisation suddenly clicked: Matthau is, in his own right, absolutely hilarious! Initially striking the audience as filthy, crude and generally unappealing, his Oscar Madison eventually manages to worm his method into our hearts, culminating in a hilariously overplayed confession of emotions that Matthau rasps out in a voice not entirely his own. At the same time, while holding his own as a comedian, his interplay with Lemmon is, of course, pitch-perfect; indeed, the movie rightly belongs to both actors, who have never failed to light up the cinema screen by themselves, allow alone together.Calling to mind Billy Wilder's screenplay for 'The Apartment (1960),' this Neil Simon comedy builds itself around around a rather morbid premise. Compulsive house-cleaner Felix Unger (Lemmon), having just been evicted by his wife of twelve years, attempts to commit suicide, but fruitlessly abandons the concept after he wrecks his back trying to launch the hotel window. Dejected, he arrives at the house of nice mate Oscar (Matthau), a divorced slob who lives alone on a diet of potato crisps and green sandwiches (that might include either very fresh cheese or very old meat!). Oscar kindly offers Felix a zone to stay, but is later overwhelmed by his friend's finicky personality and constant insistence on absolute cleanliness. The pair form an unusual sort of marital arrangement, with Felix assuming the role of the effeminate and constantly-nagging wife, and Oscar as the sloppy, unappreciative husband who everytime comes home soon than he's supposed to. This is a marriage that barely lasts three weeks, and, by the end of it, we can fully sympathise with Felix's ex-wife, who remains unseen.'The Odd Couple' is a terrific comedy, most of all because it has a lot of heart. For all their arguing, it's obvious that the two roommates have plenty of affection for every other, most movingly seen when Felix tries to open into a furious tirade, instead – perhaps inadvertently – ending up informing Oscar how "tops" he his. The pair's four poker buddies (John Fiedler, Herb Edelman, David Sheiner and Larry Haines) are also constantly badgering every another about some obscure annoyance, but you can't deny that they've got the greatest of intentions. Their decision to treat Felix as though nothing has happened to him may have sounded fine in theory, but maybe being ignored wasn't quite the correct solution to Felix's gloomy feelings of inadequacy and inconsequentiality. Unlike some comedies based on famous scene plays {I was recently disappointed by Wilder's 'The Seven Year Itch (1955)}, this movie doesn't simply strike at the same chord throughout, and the relationship between the two leads is progressively developed, through tears, laughter and much disagreement.


SPOILERSIn the words of Jean-Paul Sartre, "Hell is another people". In "The Odd Couple", Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau demonstrate just how accurate this can be. As Felix Ungar and Oscar Madison, Lemmon and Matthau respectively make two nice mates who decide to live together. As the two start to slowly grow more and more frustrated with every other, the laughs come thick and fast, before Felix departs, leaving Oscar a changed and more cleanly individual.Jack Lemmon as Ungar is absolutely magnificent as the neurotic, cleaning obsessed divorcee coping with life as a single man. Walter Matthau in contrast to Lemmon's hero is equally as nice as the slobbish sports writer who simply wants to enjoy poker to earn cash for his kid benefits.Lemmon and Matthau are magnificant in their chosen parts, to some degree dependent upon the pretty script by Neil Simon, and simultaneously because they work well as a team. As two mates who are inherently various in lifestyles, although related in relationships with ex-wives and children, these two, late, nice actors make a partnership which is practically impossible to recreate. So nice in fact, that the globe screamed out so much for something similar, that two years before Matthau's death and three before Lemmon's, the characters were reunited in an inferior sequel. This idea, whilst following Hollywood's irritating obsession with sequels, might have worked to a certain degree, but at the same time, it should never come close to replicating the genius of this original film.Ultimately it's not really possible to tell anything else. With Simon's nice script, filled with humour and laughter, the authors of this movie were already onto a hit. The casting of Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau as Felix Ungar and Oscar Madison though, is the most necessary part of this film. "The Odd Couple", with it's traditional soundtrack (which even gained a tribute in "The Simpsons"), it's perfect script and it's genius leading men, is a tribute to cinema and a detail for history to remember.



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