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Classic Film: The Odd Couple

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The Odd Couple


Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau combine to make a very odd couple in this classic 1968 film. Mr. Lemmon plays Felix Ungar, a man at the end of his rope. His wife has finally had enough and decides to divorce him. Felix cannot see himself living without his wife and children, so he decides to commit suicide.

Walter Matthau is Oscar Madison, a pretty successful sports writer covering the New York Mets. He is behind on his alimony payments and does not recognize his own child's voice initially during a phone call. A series of unfortunate events, or unsuccessful attempts at suicide, leads Felix to Oscar's apartment..and a poker game.

The supporting cast is exceptional. John Fiedler, Herbert Edelman (the police officer), and David Sheiner are among the guests who play poker with Oscar and Felix each week. When Felix is considerably late for the game, they all, save Oscar, begin to worry. When the news of Felix's divorce gets out, the gang is convinced Felix will do something irrational.

After a slew of hilarious scenes, Oscar convinces Felix to stay with him in his apartment for the time being. Unfortunately, likely put, Oscar is a slob and Felix is an extremely compulsive cleaner. This odd combination spirals into a delicate situation that will keep the audience laughing.

As icing on the cake, Oscar and Felix meet two lovely ladies from an upstairs apartment and invite them over for company. Cecily and Gwendolyn Pigeon (played by Monica Evans and Carole Shelley) add to the comedic environment with great chemistry between talent. Much of the dialogue in their date starts off as innuendo. Yet, it evolves into matters of the heart and reminiscing the past while bringing the more laughter to the film.

The most impressive aspect of "The Odd Couple" is how Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau play their hilarious scenes with such seriousness and straight faces. It may have taken more than a few takes to pull this off. The lesson to be learned here: people do not like little sticky notes on their pillows to remind them of anything.