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  • Writer's pictureThomas Duncan

The Odd Couple (1968) ft. Christine Duncan


Guest: Christine Duncan


Cast:

  • Gene Saks, Director

  • Neil Simon, Writer

  • Neal Hefti, Music

  • Jack Lemmon as Felix Ungar

  • Walter Matthau as Oscar Madison

  • Herb Edelman as Murray

  • John Fiedler as Vinnie

  • David Sheiner as Roy

  • Larry Haines as Speed

  • Monica Evans as Cecily Pigeon

  • Carole Shelley as Gwendolyn Pigeon

*Recognition:

  • The Odd Couple was released on May 2, 1968.

  • On a budget of roughly $1.2 million, it would gross over $44 million finishing as the third highest grossing movie behind only 2001: A Space Odyssey and Funny Girl.

  • The film was almost universally praised by critics of the time, and was nominated for two Academy Awards for Best Original Screenplay (Simon) and Film Editing.

  • The Odd Couple was recognized twice by the AFI:

    • 2000: AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs – #17

    • 2005: AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes: Oscar Madison: "I cannot stand little notes on my pillow! “We are all out of cornflakes, F.U.” It took me three hours to figure out F.U. was Felix Ungar." – Nominated

  • The film spawned a television series spin-off in 1970, also entitled The Odd Couple, which ran until 1975. As the series ended, a cartoon version called The Oddball Couple ran on ABC. Produced by Depatie-Freleng, it features a sloppy dog and a neat cat.

  • The Odd Couple currently holds a 98% among critics on RT, an 86 score on Metacritic, and a 3.8 out of 5 on Letterboxd.

What is this movie about?/Elevator Pitch: A comedic concept wherein two incompatible people are forced to interact.


Plot Summary: "The Odd Couple" is a classic comedy directed by Gene Saks and based on the play of the same name by Neil Simon. The movie revolves around two mismatched roommates, Felix Unger and Oscar Madison. Felix (played by Jack Lemmon) is a neurotic and overly tidy individual, while Oscar (played by Walter Matthau) is a slob and a laid-back sports writer. When Felix's marriage ends in divorce, he moves in with Oscar, leading to a clash of personalities and lifestyles.


The film humorously explores the ups and downs of their cohabitation, with Felix's meticulous nature constantly clashing with Oscar's messy habits. Their conflicting personalities lead to a series of hilarious and chaotic situations, creating a classic odd couple dynamic. As they navigate their differences and learn to accept each other's quirks, the film offers a heartwarming message about friendship and tolerance.


Did You Know:

  • This was the second of ten different times Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau starred together in a movie.

  • Walter Matthau, who played Oscar in both the original Broadway play and the movie, asked the play's author, Neil Simon, if he could play Felix instead. This was because Matthau thought Oscar's personality was too similar to his own and the role would be too easy; whereas playing the persnickety Felix would be a real acting challenge. Simon replied, "Walter, go and be an actor in somebody else's play. Please be Oscar in mine." Matthau finally agreed to it.

  • According to former Paramount production chief Robert Evans in his memoir "The Kid Stays in the Picture", producer Howard Koch originally wanted to use the Broadway cast, Walter Matthau (Oscar) and Art Carney (Felix) in the movie. Evans wanted Jack Lemmon for Felix. Evans also wanted Billy Wilder, who directed Lemmon and Matthau in The Fortune Cookie (1966), as writer-director. The cost for the Lemmon-Matthau-Wilder package was $3 million plus 50% of the profits. Paramount owner Charlie Bluhdorn balked at the demands and personally took over negotiations. Wilder eventually dropped out. Lemmon was signed for $1 million against 10% of the gross and Matthau got a straight salary of $300,000.

  • The baseball sequence was filmed at Shea Stadium before a regularly scheduled contest between the New York Mets and Pittsburgh Pirates in 1967. Originally, Roberto Clemente was supposed to hit into the triple play. However, the fleet-footed Pirate kept beating the throw to first base. After several takes, Clemente slowed so much he appeared to be walking. Bill Mazeroski, a more lead-footed athlete, was offered the part instead.

  • Writer Neil Simon got the idea for the play after his friend and former writing colleague Mel Brooks moved in with another man after his divorce.

Best Performance: Walter Matthau (Oscar)/Jack Lemmon (Felix)

Best Secondary Performance: Jack Lemmon (Felix)/Neil Simon (Writer)

Most Charismatic Award: Jack Lemmon (Felix)/Neal Hefti (Music)/Carole Shelley (Gwendolyn)

Best Scene:

  • Poker Game

  • Sinusitis

  • Double Date

  • Felix and Oscar Have it Out

  • Looking for Felix

  • Final Moments

Favorite Scene: Poker Game/Sinusitis/Felix and Oscar Have it Out

Most Indelible Moment: F.U./Felix and Oscar Have it Out/Linguini


In Memorium:

Best Lines/Funniest Lines:

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!


Murray: A whole bottle of pills! My God, get an ambulance!

Oscar Madison: Wait a minute, will ya? We don't even know what kind!

Murray: What difference does it make? He took a whole bottle!

Oscar Madison: Well, maybe they were vitamins! He could be the healthiest one in the room!


Oscar Madison: Look at this. You're the only man in the world with clenched hair.


Murray: Hey, did you know Felix was once locked in a john overnight? He wrote out his entire will on half a roll of toilet paper. What a nut!


Oscar Madison: I know him. He's too nervous to kill himself. Wears his seat belt in a drive-in movie.


Oscar Madison: Why doesn't he hear me? I know I'm talking. I recognize my voice.


Felix Ungar: I'm a neurotic nut, but you're crazy!


Oscar Madison: I know him. He'll kill himself just to spite me. Then his ghost will come back, following me around the apartment, haunting and cleaning, haunting and cleaning, haunting and cleaning...


Felix Ungar: I think I'm crazy.

Oscar Madison: If it makes you feel any better, I think so too.


Felix Ungar: I was just repeating what I thought you said.

Oscar Madison: Well, don't repeat what you THOUGHT I said, repeat what I said! My god, that's irritating!


Oscar Madison: Blanche used to say to me, "What time do you want dinner" I'd say "I dunno, I'm not hungry". Then 3 o'clock in the morning, I'd wake her up and say "now". I've been one of the highest paid sports writers in the east for the past fourteen years, we saved eight and a half dollars in pennies. I'm never home, I gamble, burn cigar holes in the furniture, drink like a fish, lie to her every chance I get. Then on our tenth wedding anniversary, I took her to the New York Rangers-Detroit Red Wings hockey game where she got hit by a puck! I still can't figure out why she left me, that's how impossible I am.


Oscar Madison: You can't spend the rest of your life crying. It annoys people in the movies.


Felix Ungar: You don't understand. I'm nothing without my wife and kids. I'm nothing!

Oscar Madison: You're not nothing. You're something. You're a person. You're flesh and blood, bones, hair, nails and ears. You're not a fish. You're not a buffalo. You're you! You walk, and talk, and cry, and complain, and eat little green pills, and send suicide telegrams. No one else does that, Felix, no one! I'm telling you, you're the only one of its kind in the world!


Oscar Madison: Don't point that finger at me unless you intend to use it.


Oscar Madison: Where are you going?

Felix Ungar: To the john.

Oscar Madison: Alone?

Felix Ungar: I always go alone. Why?

Oscar Madison: No reason. You going to be in there long?

Felix Ungar: As long as it takes.


Felix Ungar: In other words, you're throwin' me out.

Oscar Madison: Not in other words. Those are the perfect ones!


The Stanley Rubric:

Legacy: 8.67

Impact/Significance: 9

Novelty: 8.5

Classic-ness: 7

Rewatchability: 6

Audience Score: 7.95 (70% Google, 89% RT)

Total: 47.12


Remaining Questions:

  • Do either Oscar or Felix ever remarry?

  • How would you modernize this concept?

  • Why the framed final shot?

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