The Odd Couple (1968)
Runtime: 105 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35 : 1
Director: Gene Saks
Release Date: 05/02/68
Film star: Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau
I believe there are those timeless stories that, no matter which year the story was originally told, it is still entertaining. The Odd Couple is one of these special stories even though it was first played on the movie screens in 1968. The movie is an adaptation by Neil Simon of his Broadway show by the same name.
The premise of the story is absolutely timeless: two divorcees must start their life again. The twist is that this time they are men starting anew. Walter Matthau plays sportswriter Oscar Madison and Jack Lemmon plays news writer Felix Ungar. These two actors are among my all-time favorites because of their superb comic timing and great chemistry together.
The movie starts out with a very sad and depressed Felix wandering around the town at night. He checks into a dingy hotel room and requests the highest floor. The men at the desk seem to gather, as does the audience that Felix does not plan to check out the same as he checked in. The downtrodden Felix prepares to end his life in that dim hotel room, but is foiled again and again. His failed suicide attempts even make me fell sadder for this pathetic and funny Felix.
In the next scenes you see men around a poker table in a house that is so hot and stinky; you can almost feel the nausea of those men inside. While Oscar has made a great mess of his house, there is still evidence of a woman’s touch who decorated with an eye for style. The phone rings and Oscar speaks to Felix’s wife on the other line. She is worried about him and that he is suicidal since they have decided to split.
The guys, being friends with Felix, all worry and wonder what they should do to find their friend, when the doorbell rings. On the other side of the door is the downcast Felix. What is so funny to me is to see this story that we have heard a million times over for a divorcing woman, we haven’t heard for men. The men around the table behave just like women would. They try to act like they don’t know about Felix and his separation until he tries to jump out the window at Oscar’s house. Felix is such a high-strung and melodramatic fellow, he is the exact opposite to Oscar.
So you may be able to predict, that these two mismatched friends live together and try to heal their wounds from divorce. If you have ever had a roommate, you can sympathize with both Felix and Oscar. Felix is fastidious and obsessively clean. It is not only that he loves to cook and clean, but that he can’t tolerate the way that anyone else would cook or clean. Oscar, on the other hand, is a fantastic mess. He loves to smoke cigars in the house, leave rotten food out and doesn’t mind grinding his potato chips in the rug. Both of them are completely happy with their way and don’t seem to notice how others might see their extreme behavior.
The two men interact with all the same stereotypical complaints that a man and woman have in a marriage. This leads Oscar to suggest a night out with some women. The Pigeon sisters (Pigeon because Oscar says they “coo” when they laugh) are two young English women that live in the same building as Oscar. Maybe if Felix can quit his tendency to dote on Oscar, he can snap out of his divorcee funk. However, it turns out to be too soon for Felix to date. He ends up crying on the Pigeon sister’s shoulders and talking nonstop about his lovely ex-wife and his precious children.
This is the final straw for Oscar who throws his spaghetti in anger at the wall and demands that Felix leave it just like that. Felix leaves and Oscar begins to feel guilty and goes to look for Felix with his poker buddies. When he returns home, he sees that Felix is moving in with the Pigeon sisters. The movie ends with everyone better off than they had started. However, The Odd Couple franchise was just getting started. The Odd Couple 2, the televisions series and loads of other spin-offs were created to satiate our curiosity of how the story would continue.
When you watch The Odd Couple, you can ask yourself how much of you is Oscar and how much of you is Felix. I love this movie first because it is hilarious and second because it is I can relate to both characters. If you want a big laugh timeless story, then The Odd Couple is a great classic to check out.