The two great friends, Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau, are paired in a movie for the second of ten times.
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Monica Evans and Carole Shelley reprise their roles in Disney's The Aristocats (1970) as a pair of English geese on a walking tour of France.
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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.
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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.
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When getting ready for their dinner with the ladies, Oscar jokingly asks, "You think Mozart goes good with meatloaf?" Walter Matthau was a passionate Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart enthusiast, and had extensive knowledge of his work.
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The movie set a record at the Radio City Music Hall during its initial engagement. Of the 640 films that had played the theater in its first 42 years, it was the leader in terms of length of run (14 weeks) and total gross (over $3 million).
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The baseball sequence was filmed at Shea Stadium before a regularly scheduled contest between the New York Mets and Pittsburgh Pirates on 1/27/67. 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.
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The play starred Walter Matthau as Oscar and Art Carney as Felix. When they were making it into a movie, they felt Carney didn't have enough box-office punch, so they cast Jack Lemmon instead.
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While the names of the sisters--Cecily and Gwendolyn--are the same as the female leads in Oscar Wilde's play "The Importance of Being Earnest," Neil Simon claimed in interviews that it was unconscious and the coincidence didn't occur to him until years later.
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The original Broadway production opened at the Plymouth Theater on 3/10/65, ran for 966 performances and was nominated for the 1965 Tony Award for Best Play. Walter Matthau won the 1965 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play.
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During one scene, a sports radio program playing in the background reports an item about a baseball trade involving a player named Hank Moonjean. Hank Moonjean was actually the assistant director on this film.
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Tony Randall and Jack Klugman were considered for the roles of Felix Ungar and Oscar Madison, roles that they would later portray in the television series adaptation.
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John Fiedler, Carole Shelley and Monica Evans are the only actors to appear in both The Odd Couple (1968) and The Odd Couple (1970).
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After his aborted suicide attempt, Felix enters a club called the Metropole Cafe. This is a real establishment in New York City, located at 7th Ave. and 48th St., that was a jazz club--Gene Krupa played there regularly and was reportedly a part-owner-- from 1954-65, before it spent a couple of years as a strip club, then its final years as a rock music nightclub with go-go dancers (as it was featured in the film) before closing permanently shortly after this movie was filmed.
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At one point in the story (set in New York), Oscar says, "Getting a clear picture on Channel 2" is not his idea of a fun evening. For years through the mid- to late 70s and early '80s, this movie was a staple of WCBS Channel 2's "Late Show" movie in New York City.
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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.
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This was reportedly Paramount's biggest hit since The Ten Commandments (1956).
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Despite the fact that a number of key scenes involve poker games, and the fact that the five male lead characters are all poker buddies, Felix is never seen actually playing the game.
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When Felix is upset over his impending divorce, Oscar offers him a box of Mallomars to make him feel better. Since Mallomars are only "in season" from September to March, it's unlikely that there were any in the apartment since the scene took place on a hot summer day. Of course, considering Oscar still has his Christmas decorations up in July, and serves "green" sandwiches that might be very new cheese, or very old meat, one can safely assume he keeps Mallomars for well past their best before date.
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Not only was there a live-action TV sitcom spin-off of this film (The Odd Couple (1970)), there was a cartoon spin-off called, The Oddball Couple (1975) with a cat and a dog playing Felix and Oscar; called "Fleabag" and "Spiffy": in this version.
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Rated one of the top 100 comedy films of all time on Rotten Tomatoes.
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Included among the American Film Institute's 2000 list of the Top 100 Funniest American Movies.
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Billy Wilder was going to direct and write the screenplay at one point.
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When this film premiered in a Boston theater, it was for raising money for a senior center and "rocking chair" seats were advertised.
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At about the one-hour mark, Jack Lemmon enters a Bohack supermarket. This was located at the SE corner of 87th St. and 2nd Ave.
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The sons of both Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon participated in a DVD Commentary Track for the Special Edition DVD. One of the anecdotes they shared was that at one point the studio considered hiring Jackie Gleason and Frank Sinatra as Oscar and Felix respectively. However, their high salary demands negated that idea.
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One of five Neil Simon-written films produced by Howard W. Koch and all for Paramount Pictures. The movies include Plaza Suite (1971), Star Spangled Girl (1971), The Odd Couple (1968), Come Blow Your Horn (1963) and Last of the Red Hot Lovers (1972).
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This is the first of three pairings with Carole Shelley and Monica Evans, the second and third being the Disney films The Aristocats (1970) and Robin Hood (1973).
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Just before Oscar throws out Felix's linguine dinner, Oscar is in the living room watching TV. If you listen closely to the newscaster, he is reporting that the New York Yankees have traded a pitcher named "Moonjean". This is likely a reference to Hank Moonjean, who was an assistant director on this film.
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The pilot episode of the 2015 TV reboot (The Odd Couple (2015)) of the 1970 series (The Odd Couple (1970)) that starred Matthew Perry used a good chunk of this movie as its plot; Oscar offered to let Felix move in, Felix drives Oscar and his friends crazy with his cleanliness and neatness obsessions, Oscar setting up a double date with two sisters in the same building, Felix commandeering the date and Oscar making the girls mad at him, etc.
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According to the 1978 biography "Leif Garrett" by Connie Berman, the future teen idol singer had a small part in this film. He later appeared in the television series.
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At the baseball game, Oscar is handed the phone by a colleague. That was Heywood Hale Broun, a noted CBS sports commentator later turned actor/playwright/author . He had, among other things, written scripts for Car 54, Where Are You? (1961) and was a contributing editor to the 1980s CBS Sunday morning news magazine. He was very accomplished and came from a well-known literary family.
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If the voice of Vinnie, one of the card players, sounds familiar it's because John Fiedler later started playing piglet inThe Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977) from its beginning until his death in 2005.
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Walter Matthau, John Fiedler, Monica Evans, and Carole Shelley all reprise their opening-night performances from the Broadway play to star in this movie.
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Tony Randall and Jack Klugman held their own against legends Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon; two of the most critically acclaimed actors ever, in probably the most critically acclaimed and beloved,]comic team ever. Randal and Klugman both got showered with Emmys for their portrayals of these iconic parts in the TV series.
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