During a high profile Mafia testimony case in California's Riverside County, a hired killer checks-in a hotel room near the courthouse while his next door depressed neighbor wants to commit suicide due to marital problems.
Walter Matthau plays a professional killer going by the name of Trabucco, who is on his way to rub out gangster Rudy "Disco" Gambola, set to testify against the mob. As Trabucco heads off to a hotel across the street from the courthouse where he plans to set his hit, he runs into the depressed Victor Clooney, who laments the fact that his wife has left him for the head of a weird Californian sex clinic. Trabucco keeps walking and sets up his rifle in a hotel room. He is disturbed by Victor trying to hang himself in the adjoining hotel room and tries to prevent him from killing himself by restraining him, but Victor breaks loose and climbs onto the ledge of the hotel window. To get Victor to come back in, he agrees to drive him to the clinic to see his wife. The two go to the clinic where Victor's wife Celia informs Victor that she is in love in the head of the clinic, quack Dr. Zuckerbrot. When Victor finds out that Celia is filing for divorce, he heads back to the hotel to kill ... Written by
For what turned out to be his final film, Billy Wilder decided to adapt the French black comedy L'Emmerdeur to America and he and his writing partner I.A.L. Diamond came up with Buddy Buddy.
As it turned out I saw this film back to back with Wilder's Kiss Me Stupid. In that one, a whole lot of talented actors couldn't raise it above mediocrity. But in watching Buddy Buddy I failed to see why this one was slammed as bad as it was. It's not anything close to what Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau did in The Fortune Cookie or even in the remake of The Front Page. Still Buddy Buddy does have its moments.
Of course the film does hinge on the incomparable chemistry between Lemmon and Matthau and they save the film essentially for Wilder. They are two total strangers whom chance throws together at a most inopportune moment.
Matthau is a professional hit-man who's been given the job of killing three stoolies who are to testify at a mob trial. He's got the first two and has a plan set for number three.
Then of course he meets Lemmon who is despondent over his wife leaving him for a fake sex therapist. He checks into the same hotel in the room next to Matthau who is readying his hit and tries to commit suicide.
For the rest of the film Matthau is forced to take an interest in this schnook's marital problems to keep from committing suicide and bringing a swarm of police to the hotel. Matthau and Lemmon get into some pretty funny situation as there seems to be no end in sight to what can go wrong with a well thought out plan.
Lemmon's wife is played by Paula Prentiss and their marriage seems very much modeled on the one Lemmon had in The Fortune Cookie. Things work out just about the same way for the unhappy couple.
Things kind of work out for Matthau too in a rather unbelievable way for which you will have to see Buddy Buddy. And while it's not like some of the great Wilder classics of the Fifties when Billy was at his creative best, it's far from the worst film he could have gone out on.
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