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Lemmon and Matthau create an awesome partnership
TheNorthernMonkee17 June 2004
Warning: Spoilers

In the words of Jean-Paul Sartre, "Hell is other 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 create two good friends who decide to live together. As the two begin to slowly grow more and more frustrated with each other, the laughs come thick and fast, before Felix departs, leaving Oscar a changed and more cleanly individual.

Jack Lemmon as Ungar is absolutely superb as the neurotic, cleaning obsessed divorcee coping with life as a single man. Walter Matthau in contrast to Lemmon's character is equally as good as the slobbish sports writer who simply wants to play poker to earn money for his child benefits.

Lemmon and Matthau are magnificant in their selected parts, to some degree dependent upon the beautiful script by Neil Simon, and simultaneously because they work well as a team. As two friends who are inherently different in lifestyles, although similar in relationships with ex-wives and children, these two, late, great actors create a partnership which is practically impossible to recreate. So great in fact, that the world 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 could never come close to replicating the genius of this original film.

Ultimately it's not really possible to say anything else. With Simon's amazing script, filled with humour and laughter, the creators of this film were already onto a hit. The casting of Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau as Felix Ungar and Oscar Madison though, is the most important part of this film. "The Odd Couple", with it's traditional soundtrack (which even gained a tribute in "The Simpsons"), it's excellent script and it's genius leading men, is a tribute to cinema and a feature for history to remember.
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How American Manhood Has Changed
I remember something that Roger Ebert said in an interview with Martin Scorcese. Ebert said that "Raging Bull" was a great movie. People would protest that they didn't want to see it because they didn't want to see a film about boxers. No, Ebert insisted. The subject matter of a film is not the heart of the film. Rather, it's how well a film is made that matters. An expertly made film about boxers is better than a badly made film about a topic 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 story of news writer Felix Unger leaving his wife and children 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 pretty trite.

But the movie is a revelation. The script reveals surprising depth about love, hate, and human relationships. The Walter-Matthau-Jack-Lemmon team is like a well-oiled machine – they seem to have perfected their shtick together through several lifetimes.

Jack Lemmon plays the entire movie completely straight. He gives the exact same kind of performance as he did when he was acting in "The Days of Wine and Roses," a hyper serious film about alcoholism. When Lemmon, as Felix, is upset about his meatloaf burning, he shows as much agony as he showed in the previous film about a drunk ruining his own life. It's hysterically funny to watch this poor 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 help himself. Felix Unger has Asperger's.

What has changed in America, and American film, that this film from 1968 feels like a time capsule from a lost moment in America? Oscar lives in a spacious, eight-room Manhattan apartment. Manhattan real 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 movie were "grown-up" and "intelligent."

Oscar, Felix, and their poker buddies are six white guys. They meet and play poker. There are no scenes where these adult, white men are revealed to be inept in comparison to women, blacks, or homosexuals. There are no scenes where the sassy gay man instructs the straight men on how to dress or create romance. There are no scenes where the "magical negro" shows the men that they can't dance. There are no scenes where a woman puts the men down for not knowing how to take care of children or shows the men up as being blinded by lust. There are no scenes where these straight, white men are made to apologize for being straight, white men.

The men 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 children as if they love them.

They go on dates. They ask women out, dress up for the occasion, and make witty banter with subtle double entendres.

While watching "The Odd Couple," I thought of recent Judd Apatow comedies starring men like Jason Segel, Paul Rudd and Jonah Hill. These current male stars all play children; they all play losers. They play failed men. The humor in these films is built around what pathetic creatures they are. In "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," Jason Segel, who is fat and prematurely saggy, is shown fully naked. The nakedness highlights his humiliation when his girlfriend, Sarah Marshall, dumps him. These films all use 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 little notes from Felix like "We are all out of cornflakes. Signed, FU." Oscar says 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 get 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 another human being."

I can't imagine a film like "The Odd Couple" being made today. A genuinely funny, intelligent, rich, grownup comedy about men that shines light on the human condition and that need never speak the F word to get a laugh. And I can't imagine anyone other than a Trump being able to afford that eight-room apartment in Manhattan.
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"I'm a neurotic nut, but you're crazy"
ackstasis26 September 2008
I don't think I've really ever given Walter Matthau his due as a comedic performer. He's certainly been wonderful in plenty of lighthearted roles, but I guess I always put 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 popular 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 way 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 film rightly belongs to both actors, who have never failed to light up the cinema screen by themselves, let 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 idea after he wrecks his back trying to open the hotel window. Dejected, he arrives at the house of good friend Oscar (Matthau), a divorced slob who lives alone on a diet of potato crisps and green sandwiches (that might contain either very new cheese or very old meat!). Oscar kindly offers Felix a place to stay, but is soon 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 always comes home later than he's supposed to. This is a marriage that barely lasts three weeks, and, by the end of it, we can completely 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 each other, most movingly seen when Felix tries to launch 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 each other about some obscure annoyance, but you can't deny that they've got the best 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 popular stage plays {I was recently disappointed by Wilder's 'The Seven Year Itch (1955)}, this film 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.
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One of my all-time favorites plus one of the quintessential comedy pairings of 20th century
policy1345 June 2006
I simply can't get over how brilliant the pairing of Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon is. It's like the movie doesn't even need additional characters because you can never get tired of the dialog between these two.

Lemmon had already been in several well-known films like Mr. Roberts and The Apartment and Matthau was fresh off his Oscar win for The Fortune Cookie (another Billy Wilder film also with Lemmon). That particular movie wasn't as great as this one because the story couldn't sustain such a long running time (I think it was almost 2 hours). However, this goes by at a brisk hour and a half, even though the introduction of the events leading up to Lemmon ending up at Matthau's apartment is a tad long (so was this sentence). That's a minor quibble though and for the rest of the running time you have a marvelous time.

I have already written a comment about how the follow-up to this film sucked and I won't go deeper into that. The reason why this is such a joy is probably that the movie was made just as the innocence of American movies was beginning to fade fast into oblivion. There are some sexual references but they are dealt with in such an innocent way that you couldn't even get a "Well, I never..." out of the most prudish person out there. It is kind of fun to see a movie from a long lost era and that was probably why the sequel didn't work because you had Matthau and Lemmon say quite a few f-words and that just doesn't fit them.

Of course, now they are both gone and you can just be happy that you still can enjoy them in a marvelous film like this. I think the only male actor in this film who is still alive is John Fiedler. Edelman died recently. So there you have it. Simply one of the best comedies and films ever.

Add: I have just learned recently that John Fiedler has died so to all the fans of him I am deeply sorry. I didn't mean any disrespect and I will try to be more careful of what I am blah blah blahing next time.
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my long-time favorite
dr_foreman23 January 2004
"The Odd Couple" is one of those movies that far surpasses its reputation. People all know it, they hum the theme song, they complain of living with a sloppy "Oscar" or a fastidious "Felix"...but they're under-selling the film without knowing it. This isn't just about a neat guy living with a sloppy guy; it's a portrait of two friends helping each other through the agony of divorce. It's also damn funny from start to finish, but it's the kind of comedy that arises from realistic, stressful, and just plain awful situations. So, some viewers have actually found the film to be a bit uncomfortable, but I think its verisimilitude is its strength. Besides, Matthau's bulldog face just cracks me up! My favorite comedy, by a country mile.
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The one that started it all...
MovieAddict20163 December 2003
Buddy comedies always come down to two things: actors and their scripts. "The Odd Couple" works because it has two endearing characters and an often hilarious and always down-to-earth script, making it one of the best odd couple films of all time -- inspiring but not surpassing movies that share its genre, such as John Hughes' "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" (1987) and Martin Brest's "Midnight Run" (1988). And, in some ways, even Barry Levinson's "Rain Man" (1988), a more dramatic buddy comedy that nevertheless takes a lot of pointers from this one.

Plots always help buddy comedies, of course, but it really depends on whether the two actors -- when confined to a solitary confinement -- can interact and make the audience laugh. Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau, two legendary screen comedians, can do just that. Their comedic chemistry in this film has often been mimicked by other rip-offs, such as "Grumpy Old Men." But this remains their ultimate combined-effort comedy.

This is the type of movie that is often referenced as the pinnacle buddy movie. Sure, it may not be the best, but it did inspire the entire odd couple genre, and I would definitely place it in the top five buddy comedies list if I ever made such a thing.

Felix (Jack Lemmon) has just been left by his wife, and so he goes to live with long-time poker pal Oscar (Walter Matthau), a grumpy and filthy slob who is the exact opposite of Felix, an uptight orderly man with a fetish for cleaning. In fact, he does just that in Oscar's apartment, which drives Oscar to the point of ultimate frustration. If these guys can't get along much longer, they'll just have to move along and forget their friendship. But things don't always turn out the way they appear.

Neil Simon's "The Odd Couple" is full of inspired lunacy. It has some truly hilarious moments with great gags and interaction between its two lead stars, whose screen chemistry is undeniable -- there's a reason Hollywood paired Lemmon and Matthau together an uncountable number of times.

The film is lacking the humanity and sorrow of its characters that shines through in "Planes, Trains and Automobiles"; there are few -- if any -- moments where the characters become so frustrated with each other that they blow up and then realize that they're not exactly how they thought. Remember the scene in the motel when Neal Page (Steve Martin) lashed out against Del Griffith (John Candy)? But after the comedy tirade ended, and as we laughed, the film took an unexpected turn when it revealed the Del character's utter hurt inside. Then we stopped laughing and we started crying.

That's lacking in "The Odd Couple," making it inferior to Hughes' comedy masterpiece, but it's a clever little film that inspired it all. Perhaps the best gag in the entire movie is one that was quite controversial at the time: Oscar finds a note next to his bed from Felix that says they're out of cereal, and the last two letters of the note are, "F U." Of course, the two letters "F U" are Felix Ungar's initials, but as Oscar implies, just imagine what he thought it meant when he first read the note.

I love comedies where you lock down a small number of people -- preferably a pair of opposites -- in a room and let their characters take over. I like when the dialogue is rich and funny and so very real. I guess I just like subtle character comedies -- overblown special effects comedies aren't always favorites of mine. "Dumb and Dumber" is one of my favorite buddy comedies, and it's not because it's crude or silly but because I like the pairing of its two stars, Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels, and I like the situations they get into.

"The Odd Couple" (based on the stage play by Simon) is the odd comedy that puts a smile on your face and delights the viewer. It's a fun movie, a great comedy, one of the finest and arguably the most acknowledged buddy film of all time. I saw it years ago and I've been laughing ever since. And despite its inferiority to some of the other buddy films that followed in its path, "The Odd Couple" is a delightful character comedy that will inspire similar comedies for years to come. Lord knows it already has.

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One of the most beautiful comedies
gardner-223 November 1999
Warning: Spoilers
This cordial comedy confronts a few bizarre characters. Especially, of course, the two leading characters. Jack Lemmon plays Felix, a hypochondriac whose wife lost him because she couldn't stand his cleaning and cooking attacks any longer. So he tries to kill himself but every attempt fails. Walter Matthau plays Oscar, his friend, an untidy, unreliable sports-reporter who lives in divorce from his ex-wife in a bachelor apartment. He offers his distressed friend Felix a new home in his apartment. And soon the trouble begins because two such contrary characters can't live together for a long time. Felix turns Oscar's disorderly flat into a clean exhibition flat. He cleans and cooks the whole time. After a short while, Oscar feels persecution mania ... Filmed in a theatrical way and excellent acted. Above all, Jack Lemmon's play is wonderful. He is the perfect clown. He makes us laugh but in a tragi-comic way. Look for the wonderful scene when both men invite their two female neighbours for supper, because Oscar has to touch something more softer than a bowling-ball. While he is preparing the drinks, Felix sits with the two young ladies in the living-room. To get out of this embarrassing situation, he starts to talk about the weather. A minute later, he changes the subject and talks about his ex-wife and children. Suddenly he begins to weep and when Oscar comes back with the drinks, there are three weeping people in the living-room. The film is full of such amusing and at the same time touching scenes. An intelligent, entertaining comedy with much heart. 10 out of 10!
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Comedy as it should be....
marcoschwartz1 December 2001
I have seen this film many times and I like all bad teachers want to give it ten out of ten but feel that it would be unfair to other good films. However, I do think that this is one of those rare gems: a perfect comedy. It is I would venture one of the greatest comic films of all times. Matthau and Lemmon are perfectly matched and mismatched. The script is so sharp that you need to staunch the bleeding. The story is well known and has already been described in other comments. The two leads give extraordinary performances, the girls are superb and the situations are side-splittingly funny. Not one swear-word in sight (mark that Hollywood, you don't have to swear to be funny, you have to be witty) and the move from stage to film is seamless. They don't make'em like this any more. Timeless.
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A Triumph
dougdoepke29 June 2014
No need to recap the plot. What a triumph of scripting and casting. The premise, viz. the neat freak and the slob, has got to be one of the most durable on record, accounting for both this movie and the long-running TV series. In fact, I count that early 20-minutes around the card table as one of the funniest and best-written episodes I've seen anywhere. If this isn't playwright Simon's best work, I don't know what is.

And what a fine example of ensemble acting are the poker-playing buddies, even if they never seem to play. Then too, get a load of the giddy Pigeon sisters. I love it when killjoy Felix gets them out of a romantic mood with a good cry. No wonder I-need-to-touch-something-soft Oscar wants to throttle him. And I'm still wondering whether Simon came up with the name "Felix Unger" because of the loaded initials or just happened to notice them. Anyway, the initials provide a good laugh.

Of course, filming a stage play is always tricky since there're minimal scene changes. Here there're basically only two sets. But I hardly notice because director Saks manages to keep somebody moving all the time. That, plus the quality of writing and acting, keeps attention from wandering. One thing I did notice. Catch how the poker players are bunched on one side of the table so that the camera can have an unobstructed angle. It's artificial but understandable.

Anyway, this is one of my favorite comedies, and I catch re-runs of the TV series when I can. Thanks Neil Simon for a truly inspired comedic set-up.
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When Fussy Felix Met Untidy Oscar
ShadeGrenade19 September 2006
Warning: Spoilers
A man ( Jack Lemmon ) intending to commit suicide books into a seedy hotel room. His name is Felix Ungar. After straining his back trying to open a window, he goes to a strip club, and from there on to the apartment of his friend Oscar Madison ( Walter Matthau ). A poker game is in session. Oscar and his friends have heard that Felix's wife Frances threw him out, and try to prevent him from doing away with himself. Felix moves in and the two men - who are of diametrically opposed personalities - drive each other nuts. Oscar is one of Nature's slobs, while Felix is tidy to the point of obsession. He is also a hypochondriac, forever complaining of sinus trouble. They are bound to drive one another mad in the end, and do...

Based on the stage play by Neil Simon, 'The Odd Couple' has not been opened out much for the big screen, and that's one of its strengths. Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon are brilliant as Oscar and Felix, and the supporting cast are wonderful, particularly John Fielder as 'Vinnie'. Cute Monica Evans and Carole Shelley giggle their way through the film as 'Cecily and 'Gwendolyn' - the cuckoo 'Pigeon' sisters who live upstairs, and whom Felix later moves in with ( lucky guy ).

Even now after all these years, certain moments can reduce me to tears of laughter - Felix interrupting Oscar in the middle of a ball game with a dinner request, Oscar cracking up and chasing Felix around the apartment, the Pigeon Sisters brought low by Felix's sob stories, and of course, the legendary cafeteria scene ( later ripped off by Nora Ephron's 'When Harry Met Sally' ). Razor-sharp dialogue too. When the boys think Felix has taken an overdose, Oscar says: "They could be vitamins! He could be the healthiest one in the room!".

Neal Hefti's theme will be going round in her head for days after you see this.

Later spun off into a long-running television series starring Tony Randall as 'Felix' and Jack Klugman as 'Oscar', with Evans and Shelley reprising their movie roles.

In 1998, 'The Odd Couple 2' appeared. It had its moments but could not compete with the original.
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The Odd Couple
Coxer9923 March 1999
Simon's best comedy is superbly crafted by director Gene Saks and given life by the immense talents of Lemmon and Matthau. No one delivers these lines better. No one times them better. Nobody does it better.
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The Odd Couple is a comic gem
faraaj-123 July 2006
The Odd Couple is a comic gem. One the funniest script ever committed to celluloid - exceeded only by Strangelove, Spinal Tap and Lebowski! Lemmon and Matthau are best friends: obsessive compulsive Felix and sloppy, irresponsible Oscar. Oscar's wife has already left him because he is impossible to live with due to his irresponsible attitude. Felix's wife leaves him at the start of the movie, and after an aborted suicide attempt he moves in with poker buddy Oscar. Thats when the fun begins.

The entire script is brilliant and filled with brilliant one-liners. You are probably already familiar with the "F.U." joke but it still works brilliantly due to Matthau's comic timing.

My favorite moments are when Lemmon tries to clear his sinus in the diner and when the Pigeon sisters are being charmed by a very suave Matthau and Lemmon is totally out of his element. This one requires repeat viewings!
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Very funny, good cast
funkyfry28 October 2002
Often laugh out loud, sometimes sad story of 2 working divorced guys -- Lemmon a neurotic clean "house husband" and Matthau a slob sportswriter -- who decide to live together to cut down on expenses.

Nicely photographed and directed. The script is very barbed -- that is, there's always more than one side to almost every line. Particularly funny scene involves 2 british sisters (Evans and Shelley) who seem amused by everything anyone says, but when Lemmon busts out his photos of kids and, yes, ex-wife-to-be, he has the girls sobbing along with him before Matthau can show up with the promised drinks!

Very entertaining.
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The Original Dynamic Duo
george.schmidt16 April 2003
THE ODD COUPLE (1968) **** Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau. Superb comic teaming of Lemmon/Matthau as fussbudget, neat freak Felix Unger and perpetual slob Oscar Madison, two recently divorced buddies in New York who decide to live together with some pricelessly funny moments and cutting dialogue. Based on Neil Simon's hit play and later a tv classic with Tony Randall and Jack Klugman. Interesting note: original Broadway Felix, Art Carney, wasn't used in film because producers thought he wasn't a bankable name! Classic line: Matthau (after tossing Lemmon's plate of linguini at the kitchen wall and thinking it was spaghetti, only to have Lemmon correct him ) replies: "Now it's gahhbijgg!"
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Timeless comedy gem that is utterly hilarious and is easily one of the funniest films that I've seen
jimbo-53-1865112 June 2014
They always say that you never really know someone until you live with them and the Odd Couple demonstrates this point in a way that is utterly hilarious for the most part, whilst it also managed to be quite touching on occasions.

Felix Ungar (Jack Lemmon) has broken up with his wife Frances. He loved his wife dearly and the break up has affected him pretty badly. Felix ends up moving in with his good friend Oscar Madison (Walter Matthau). The trouble is that Felix has a clear case of OCD and Oscar is a slob so to say that Felix and Oscar had arguments and problems whilst living together is an understatement. I think the funniest thing about this film is the fact that although Oscar is divorced and Felix is going through a divorce, both men act more like they're a married couple than friends. Felix is the 'wife' character - he cooks, he cleans and constantly nags at Oscar. I was in stitches when I saw the scene when Felix was rollicking Oscar for returning home an hour later than he'd agreed because it just isn't what we're used to seeing. The chemistry between Matthau and Lemmon is a big plus and this is down to a combination of great acting, great scriptwriting and great comic timing by both Matthau and Lemmon. It would be impossible for me to name all the funny moments in this film, but I guarantee that from start to end you'll be laughing and you'll be laughing regularly.

Another interesting aspect with this film is the support cast; Lemmon and Matthau are supported by their friends Vinnie (John Fiedler), Murray (Herb Edelman) and Roy (David Sheiner). On a number of occasions, the support cast are given very little material and are more often merely foils for the two lead actors. However, Oscar's friends are well written and I believe we managed to get one or two laughs from each of these characters (which isn't bad considering the screen time that they were given).

Whilst The Odd Couple is an absolute laugh riot for the most part, it also manages to be quite touching at times. Even though Oscar and his friends probably wouldn't make ideal dinner guests, they do all show surprising compassion towards Felix (particularly when he arrives at Oscar's house). The initial set up would lead you to believe that they are uncaring, but this isn't the case. All the characters are likable and I'll admit that the scene where Felix arrives at Oscar's is both touching and hilarious at the same time.

The Odd Couple is an absolute gem of a film that everyone should watch and when I say everyone, I do mean everyone. This is a film that has no profanity and no vulgarity so it is something that the whole family can watch and enjoy together. Whilst I'm not averse to profanity and vulgarity in films, it is nice to see that some writers can create a film with a simple premise and with good writing can create a film that is clean and a whole lot of fun. Go ahead - watch the Odd Couple. You won't be disappointed.
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A comedy of timing and leisure; whatever happened to UNpredictability?
Steve Pulaski14 November 2013
Gene Saks' The Odd Couple is a masterwork of comedic timing and actors showcasing their energy and talents on screen. It marks the debut film showing both Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau together in a film and would unfold into a long, flourishing career featuring the talent and humor of both men. The Odd Couple is amazingly crafted because it shows its actors as people and utilizes rare long takes in small settings that allow the actors to recite dialog that shows their specific character personalities and traits.

Jack Lemmon plays Felix Ungar, who is seen at the beginning of the film checking into a seamy motel with plans to kill himself after his wife claims she wants a divorce. After pulling a muscle in his back trying to open the window of the room that he plans to jump out of - a delightful example of pitch dark comedy - Felix wanders hopelessly around the wasteland that is Times Square with no clear direction or feelings of purpose. We then cut to a cluttered, disgusting mess of an apartment that belongs to divorced sports columnist Oscar Madison (Walter Matthau), who is hosting a card game with several pals and anticipating the arrival of Felix. This scene in Oscar's messy apartment lasts an upwards of twenty-five minutes, even past the arrival of a depressed Felix, giving Matthau and the band of hilarious character actors time to spit memorable one-liners and uproarious meditations on life.

Upset that Felix arrives with suicidal thoughts and feelings of uselessness, Oscar opens his apartment to Felix, despite their opposite personalities. Felix is a compulsive cleaner and so neurotic he'd make Woody Allen wince. Oscar, on the other hand, simply doesn't care about cleanliness or anything of the sorts. This, as expected, leads to contention between their differing personalities. For a typically predictable and ostensibly tiresome premise, writer Neil Simon and director Gene Saks know how to keep this material lively. For one, they rely on the characters and their interactions with each other and their conversational relationship rather than a series of events that anger one another. This is the biggest key to the success of The Odd Couple. There is no reliance on crudeness or over-the-top humor involving stock situations based on the characters' personalities. The relationship Felix and Oscar bear is one predicated off of lengthy conversations and deep, thoughtful realizations on life.

Lemmon and Matthau are a comedic force of ingenuity and hilarity. It's no surprise that their film career together was expansive and their friendship remained strong until their death. They have an exceptional way of building off one another through energetic banter, and despite their characters being polar opposite, there's no mistaking the way they feel like they need each other in order to thrive in the world. Few comedic talents could bring such an oddball chemistry to necessity-levels, but Lemmon and Matthau do an exceptional job at conveying such a need for one another.

Furthermore, it's refreshing to see a film not feel rushed and utilize its one-hundred and five minute runtime calmly and effectively. I tire quickly of films that feel that things need to be rushed or hurried so that the maximum amount of antics need to ensue. Saks and Simon are smarter; they are much more lax and have a looser grip on the material, allowing for sequences in the same setting to continue long past twenty minutes and this is a great thing. Two things have changed in contemporary comedies - the jokes are raunchier and often dirtier and the settings are utilized for not as long as they once were. Older comedies don't feel like they have a schedule, while newer comedies feel like a businessman aboard a 9:15am train that arrives ten minutes earlier than scheduled.

The Odd Couple is a hilarious endeavor, not hurried, not contrived, and not forced, allowing the energy of its screen-talents with their conversational fluidity and the genius of its writing and directing team to make an uproariously funny comedy the old-fashioned, good-intentioned way. The way that is unfortunately neglected in contemporary times.

Starring: Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. Directed by: Gene Saks.
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Hilarious Comedy.
AaronCapenBanner1 September 2013
Neil Simon's play was successfully transferred to the big screen in this hilarious film with stars Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau as Felix Unger(Super neat but depressed) & Oscar Madison(Super slob but happy). After Felix's wife leaves him, friend Oscar invites him to move in with him for a while(concerned he might kill himself) not counting on the disruption of his life this will cause.

Both Lemmon & Matthau are superb, perfectly cast and bring both unique characters to memorable life. Viewer will most likely identify with one character over the over, but that's to be expected. So many funny scenes and supporting characters, though does tip a bit too much in sympathy with Oscar, Lemmon is so appealing that story doesn't feel lopsided.

This inspired the famous sitcom with Tony Randall & Jack Klugman.
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A timeless comedy.
Of all of the versions and variations on Neil Simon's classic, "The Odd Couple," from its original production on Broadway, to the celebrated television series starring Jack Klugman and Tony Randall, the 1968 film version is, arguably, the best representation of the dynamic twosome.

Felix Unger (Jack Lemmon) and Oscar Madison (Walter Matthau) are friends and sharing an apartment because Felix's marriage has fallen apart and needs a place to stay temporarily. Though Felix and Oscar are friends, their lifestyles and housekeeping skills are as different as night and day, which leads inevitably to endless confrontations fueled by frustration, and the results are pure comedic splendor. The hilarious, second to none chemistry between Lemmon and Matthau is the backbone of this film, accompanied by Neil Simon's incisive, wholehearted writing gives the movie its timeless quality.

Matthau and Lemmon both do a sensational job, because even though they can't stand living together, they both do care for each other, and their performances reflect just that magnificently. If you are looking for a timeless comedy classic with brilliant writing and wonderful performances, there is no need to search any further. The film received two Academy Award Nominations for Film Editing and Adapted Screenplay.
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A Comedy with Heart
itamarscomix7 January 2013
The concept at the heart of The Odd Couple is laughably simple - so simple that it's been done dozens of times since in both films and TV sitcoms. The recipe - take two characters who are polar opposite in (at least) one aspect of their personalities (neat vs. messy is a popular variant, but there have been others) and cram them in a small environment (often an apartment) and see what happens - hilarity will ensue. Actually, although The Odd Couple can be seen as the original or, at least, the one that popularized this theme, it isn't that much more sophisticated or unexpected than any of the others. Felix and Oscar are very nearly cartoon characters, with the defining feature (neat vs. messy) as extreme as humanly possible. The big difference, though, is in the comedic duo of Lemmon and Matthau (in their second collaboration) who make these characters real, hilarious and so very lovable.

The Odd Couple was adapted from the popular Neil Simon play, but as funny as the play is, it takes a back seat - this is Lemmon and Matthau's show, and they made the most of it. These two had perfect chemistry and comedic timing, but unlike other great comedic duos - Abbott and Costello, Laurel and Hardy - Lemmon and Matthau were both accomplished dramatic actors as well, and in all their films they managed to create characters who are extreme, polar opposites but also very relatable and very convincing as a pair of good friends. It's their acting that makes The Odd Couple not just a good comedy - which it is, but not a great one, there aren't really many laugh-out-loud moments throughout - but also one of the best buddy movies of all time. Though I can't help but wonder if it might have been a better film at the hands of a more visionary director like Billy Wilder, this film isn't about the director but about two of the most likable actors ever seen on film.
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Male bonding comedy at its best ...
ElMaruecan826 November 2012
"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 Unger!" Felix Unger (Jack Lemmon) is the neat freak, forming with his buddy Oscar Madison (Walter Matthau) the titular odd couple, and this line is only one drop of the ocean of hilarious one-liners this adaptation of Neil Simon's play contains.

And 'hilarious' is an understatement, because the more I watch "The Odd Couple", the more tempted I am to believe this is one of the funniest films ever. In other reviews, I would have left such a bold statement for the conclusion after a series of well-developed points, but this time, I give up, I have to say that first. I have to shout how truly funny Gene Sachs' film is, how high is the level of hilarity reached by its best scenes and how delightful it is to watch Lemmon and Matthau inhabiting the conflict between two grumpy middle-aged men that couldn't have been more opposite, the neurotic and overanxious Unger and the joyful and frivolous slob Madison. Even the title even resonates as the comical premise and the psychological core of the story, two men, two attitudes towards loneliness ... Felix is the agony, Oscar the ecstasy.

Much more, their attitudes in life have one thing in common: they're driven by their marital experience. Felix inherited the manic habits of cleanliness, Oscar not only rejected them all but exorcised his demons by shamelessly getting back to his roots and living like a bachelor again. In a way, the film opened my eyes of some endearing aspects of being a man: carelessness. You can smoke, drink a beer and put a glass on the table, even if it leaves rings, or not eat over the plate, even if it leaves crumbs on the floor, no one would shout at you. And every once in a while, Mister Hyde becomes the Doctor Jekyll and it's time to turn the place into something more presentable. Generally, it happens when you expect a charming visit, but that's the virile circle of life, 80% dirty and 20% clean, and I guess male bonding is about rediscovering the joy of carelessness together. Believe me, it's been eights months since I'm married and one year since I lived with my wife and I wish I could savor the taste of carelessness again.

Yes, sometimes, I look at bachelor's life envy. And when I go to my friend's house, I'm like in heaven. "The Odd Couple" has this appealing quality; it shows you that life hasn't changed much since 1968. I could respond to Matthau's Madison, even more because in life, my wife turned me into Lemmon's Unger. When my friend came to my house, I asked him to leave his shoes near the door, to have the round thing for the beer, not to mess with the carpet. He couldn't believe it, but well, he couldn't believe either the way the house improved, how full was the fridge, maybe he felt he was missing things too. Well, that's women, the cause and the solutions of our problems. And I guess the joyful bunch who come to Madison's flat to play poker every Friday night (great cast by the way) enjoy their game even more because they know after this virile oasis, they'll get back to marital routine. Married guys don't know what they miss, but when they become bachelors again, they miss what they lost.

And that's what Oscar and Felix have in common: they're not married anymore, both are divorced and divorcing, and when out of friendship, Oscar invites Felix to live in his eight- room apartment, he doesn't realize that he brought himself a man whose habits are worse than a woman's without the advantages of a woman. Both have two philosophies of life extended to their most extreme sides, one wants to enjoy freedom, another to control things, you could tell why both divorced (we can figure that for them because basically they can't) so maybe the salvation is somewhat in-between. But the film is less about the cohabitation process with a learning or a message than a series of hilarious sight gags and one-liners that are both witty and true to life. It feels like a sitcom sometimes but it transcends the material of a sit-com through powerful performances from a genuine odd couple.

Indeed, it's a comedy, a gag-driven comedy, and any other considerations are totally useless, it's all about the interactions between Matthau and Lemmon, the Auguste and the white- faced clown. And the force of the film is to never reach a breaking point of absurdity. Lemmon's mimics are hilarious, the opening sequence is probably the greatest tribute to his comedic talent, he's the true successor of Silent legends, his "FMUH" in the restaurant scenes killed me, but he never exaggerates them, he always carries the gravity of his character, with such versatility he could have made him a pathetic in a drama. Another example is when they invite two English sisters, both equally cute and funny. Well, in a bad film, the date would have been turned into a disaster, Today, it would have lead to some gratuitous crude gags, in "The Odd Couple" it's dealt with sweetness and a rare sensitivity.

The film deals with the pathos of his character with sweetness and intelligence, and their confrontation are so full of memorable lines that you never get tired of their interactions. It's funny, witty, hilarious. I guess it exceeds "The Producers" as the best comedy of 1968 and last but not least, it features a very catchy theme. Remember, it's the one Homer Simpson sang to Lisa, convinced that it was her favorite film, ta-tata-tataaa…
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A One-Joke Comedy Which Works
James Hitchcock1 April 2011
Neil Simon's plays have enjoyed great popularity ever since he started writing in the 1960s, not only in the theatre but also as the basis for film scripts, generally written by Simon himself. Most of his plays are set in his native New York- "Biloxi Blues", based on his wartime experiences, is an exception- and it is notable that Gene Saks, the director of "The Odd Couple", is a New Yorker, as was Walter Matthau, one of its stars. (The other star, Jack Lemmon, was a Bostonian). All three men were involved in other Simon films. The previous year, Saks had directed "Barefoot in the Park", Lemmon was to appear in "The Out-of-Towners" and "The Prisoner of Second Avenue" and Matthau was to appear in several, including "Plaza Suite" and "California Suite".

When New Yorker Felix Ungar and his wife split up, he decides to move in with his old friend Oscar Madison, himself a divorcée. The film, which tells the story of their co-habitation, is essentially a one-joke comedy, the joke being that, despite their long-running friendship, the two men are very different in character. Oscar, a highly-paid sportswriter, takes no interest in cooking, cleaning or housework. Although he lives in a luxurious and obviously expensive apartment, he has, ever since his wife left him several months earlier, allowed the place to degenerate into an untidy mess. Felix, by comparison, is not only an excellent cook but also neurotically obsessive about cleanliness; after he moves into the apartment he spends most of his time cleaning and tidying it and berating Oscar for his slovenly ways. As a result the two men continually quarrel and bicker like an old married couple.

Most one-joke comedies do not really work in the cinema, but "The Odd Couple" is perhaps one of the few exceptions. Its great advantage is that Lemmon and Matthau were two of the best comic actors of the period, and both are on good form here. In his comedies Lemmon played various different personality types, but one thing that several of his characters have in common is that they like to be in control of their lives, and the humour derives from their (usually vain) attempts to reassert control after losing it. Thus Stanley, the hero of "How to Murder Your Wife", wakes up one morning to find that he has inadvertently got married while drunk, and George, the testy, impatient business executive in "The Out-of-Towners" finds himself confronted with an insuperable series of disasters.

Felix's problem is precisely the opposite of that which confronts Stanley. Stanley is a confirmed bachelor suddenly threatened by the loss of his bachelor status, which he equates with a loss of freedom. Felix is an apparently happily married man whose world collapses with the sudden collapse of his marriage. (Oscar, by contrast, treats his divorce with much greater equanimity). Felix is a comic character but also a genuinely pitiable one; in the early scenes he is actually contemplating suicide. His obsessive tidying of Oscar's flat can be seen as a desperate attempt to regain control over at least one area of his life. Although Felix might sometimes act like Oscar's "wife", there is nothing effeminate about Lemmon's portrayal, not is there any attempt to insinuate a gay relationship, which is important. Not only would any implication of homosexuality been frowned upon in 1968, much of the humour derives from the fact that the relationship is between two masculine, heterosexual men. Suggest that one, or both, is gay, and much of that humour is lost.

"The Odd Couple" is not Simon's best screenplay, but he always had the ability to write witty dialogue, and there is enough in this film to prevent the humour from becoming merely repetitive. Another plus is the attractive, witty jazz score from Neal Hefti, who also wrote the score for "How to Murder Your Wife". 6/10
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Not in other words, those are the perfect ones
petra_ste27 May 2007
Warning: Spoilers
The Odd Couple is one of the funniest movies ever made. Oscar and Felix are more than just characters: they have become cinematic archetypes.

Felix (Jack Lemmon) has been left by his wife and is suicidal. His best friend Oscar (Walter Matthau) offers him to stay in his house. However, the two are polar opposites. Felix is neurotic, hypochondriac, petulant, obsessed with order. Oscar is a pig: his house is a dirty mess, with food rotting in the refrigerator and other amenities of the sort. Soon they get on each other's nerves and a domestic war ensues.

There are two reasons this movie is so enjoyable. The first is the marvellous dialogue, with dozens of memorable quotes. Equally crucial is the acting: the work of the lead actors is the stuff of legends. Matthau, with his scornful stare, was just born to play Oscar. He gets all the best lines: his comedic timing is impeccable, his body language hilarious. Lemmon is just as great as Felix, a man so whiny you want to strangle him - and yet, while ridiculous, he does keep a certain quiet dignity.

Iconic and worth multiple viewings.

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"Who would send a suicidal telegram?" ... "Felix the Nut, that's who!"
moonspinner5514 October 2007
In what must have been the biggest redundancy of the year, Neil Simon actually got an Academy Award nomination for adapting his Tony winning 1965 play "The Odd Couple" to the screen--redundant since the film seems to have preserved Simon's stage text word-for-word, with the pauses for theatrical effect kept intact. In their second screen-teaming after 1966's "The Fortune Cookie", Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon are equally good here, and often times very funny, but the material is crassly labored, with Simon over-emphasizing every irritating quirk (Matthau's sports writer is not just sloppy, he tracks in dirt and likes it that way; Lemmon's divorced hypochondriac isn't just natty, he's a walking phobia). Slim comedic story about two bachelors in New York City attempting to live together (in a humongous eight-room apartment with a view) has set-ups that constantly remind one this is just a loud transfer from its source. The jokes aren't varied, they're all in the same pushy vein, and Simon thinks hollering is funny; he uses yelling as the capper to every volley, every barrage of put-downs. ** from ****
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Okay, But I Prefer The TV Series
ccthemovieman-129 June 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Some scenes in here I found extremely funny, such as when Jack Lemmon ("Felix Ungar") starts making strange honking noises. Other parts are uncomfortable, such as when Walter Matthau ("Oscar Madison") gets downright mean to "Felix." However, Matthau does have a lot of funny lines in here.

Yes, the two are supposed to argue a lot but it got to be a little too much in the second half of the film. Unlike the TV series which was spawned after this hit movie, Felix parts with Oscar in the end.

Overall, okay but not as good as the television series with Jack Klugman and Tony Randall.
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