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Buddy Buddy (1981)

During a high profile Mafia testimony case in California's Riverside County, a hired killer checks into a hotel room near the courthouse, while his depressed next-door neighbor wants to commit suicide due to marital problems.


Billy Wilder


Francis Veber (play), Francis Veber (story) | 2 more credits »
2 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Jack Lemmon ... Victor Clooney
Walter Matthau ... Trabucco
Paula Prentiss ... Celia Clooney
Klaus Kinski ... Dr. Hugo Zuckerbrot
Dana Elcar ... Capt. Hubris
Miles Chapin ... Eddie, the Bellhop
Michael Ensign ... Assistant Manager
Joan Shawlee ... Receptionist
Fil Formicola Fil Formicola ... Rudy 'Disco' Gambola
C.J. Hunt C.J. Hunt ... Kowalski
Bette Raya Bette Raya ... Mexican Maid
Ronnie Sperling ... Hippy Husband
Suzie Galler Suzie Galler ... Pregnant Wife
John Schubeck John Schubeck ... Newscaster
Ed Begley Jr. ... Lieutenant #1


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 Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


When a troubled shooter meets a troublemaker it's the beginning of a ferociously funny friendship... See more »




R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


The final film collaboration of long-time co-writers I.A.L. Diamond and director Billy Wilder. The picture was also the seventh and final collaboration of actor Jack Lemmon and director Billy Wilder and the third and final teaming of Walter Matthau and Wilder. Also, the final film directed by Billy Wilder. See more »


When Clooney is looking into the auditorium at the clinic, the door opens outward as seen from the outside. When the shot switches to the inside, the door opens inward. See more »


Clooney: What else did you tell him? That I cheat on crossword puzzles? I steal sugar in restaurants? That I wet my bed 'til I was eleven?
Celia Clooney: No, Victor, believe me, I never mentioned that.
Dr. Hugo Zuckerbrot: A bed-wetter... Aha! That explains everything!
See more »

Alternate Versions

ABC edited 5 minutes from this film for its 1985 network television premiere. See more »


Referenced in Special Collector's Edition: Especial Top Comedias (2012) See more »


Written by Herman Ruby (uncredited) & Dave Dreyer (uncredited)
Sung by Michael Dees
Arranged by Pete Rugolo
See more »

User Reviews

Not As Bad As Its Reputation
3 December 2017 | by Michael_ElliottSee all my reviews

Buddy Buddy (1981)

** 1/2 (out of 4)

Trabucco (Walter Matthau) is a hit-man for the mob who shows up at a motel across from a court house where a man is set to testify. The job is quite simple as he just has to kill the man as he enters the court house. The only problem is that Victor Clooney (Jack Lemmon) is in the next hotel room and his constant suicide attempts are getting int he way of Trabucco doing his job.

It's kind of weird that BUDDY BUDDY would somewhat become a forgotten film. I mean, it wasn't a hit at the box office when it was first released even though it did get Matthau and Lemmon into the same film again. It also had Billy Wilder back in the director's chair for what would turn out to be the last time. You'd think with those three legends the film would be better known but in America it never even got an official DVD or Blu-ray release as of me writing this. It's hard to believe with the talent involved that this movie has pretty much disappeared.

The reviews back in 1981 were pretty bad and many people have called this the worst film that Wilder ever made but I think that's being a bit too harsh. If you're looking for a comedy classic then you're certainly not going to find that here and I'd argue that it's perhaps the weakest of all the Matthau-Lemmon teamings and yes that includes the films they'd do later in life. I think the biggest problem with BUDDY BUDDY is the fact that the story itself really isn't all that fresh or original and the film certainly doesn't have enough laughs considering the talent on board.

With that said, there's still a lot to enjoy here including the two comedy giants. I thought the duo was basically a re-working of their roles in THE ODD COUPLE. If you've seen that film then you'll remember that the Lemmon character was suicidal and they've pretty much taken that and turned it into a full movie. I must admit that I thought both actors were good in their roles and there's no question that they work well off of one another. The two of them certainly manage to get a good number of laughs and they make the film worth watching. I will say that Klaus Kinski is pretty much wasted in his role.

The screenplay, co-written by Wilder, isn't the greatest as there just aren't enough laughs to make the film work as a whole. I'd also say that the final thirty-minutes if when the film really runs out of gas as the laughs really dry up. With all of that being said, it's still a bit confusing as to why BUDDY BUDDY has pretty much disappeared. It's not a classic or even a good movie but it's certainly worth watching.

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Release Date:

11 December 1981 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Buddy Buddy See more »

Filming Locations:

Honolulu, O'ahu, Hawaii, USA See more »


Box Office


$10,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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