Jack Lemmon would have to be my favourite actor of all time (and on Wednesday you’ll discover which of his movies is my number one) and The Odd Couple‘s Felix Unger is one of Lemmon’s most memorable roles. It’s Lemmon’s genius that he can make his audience laugh at – and then feel deeply for – a character at the bottom of his own pit of despair and attempting suicide – not to mention Neil Simon’s brilliant writing that gives him the opportunity. This is also a movie where the double act of Lemmon and Walter Matthau as Oscar is utterly perfect. You couldn’t imagine it without either of these Hollywood legends.
There are so many great Lemmon moments in this picture: Felix clearing his sinuses in the middle of a restaurant; Oscar ruining Felix’s linguine; Felix turning a perfectly promising double-date into a miserable sob-fest. I could go on but fortunately the original trailer (below) features these and more best bits (isn’t it the case that Seventies trailers went on forever and basically gave you the whole movie?!). But you really should seek out and watch this film. Neil Simon’s script is so completely spot-on about the modern male and his self-centred crises. It’s also non-stop hilarious. Ultimately, you’ll like these guys; you’ll feel for these guys; and you’ll love watching their odd relationship unfold.
I know there was a very successful, and long-running, TV spin-off of The Odd Couple starring Jack Klugman as Oscar and Tony Randall as Felix. I never saw it so I can’t really comment. I do love Jack Klugman – Quincy may well have been my Q blog post if I didn’t have a good Queen story. There was also a just-about okay sequel made in 1998 when Paramount realised these legends (including Neil Simon) were actually alive and should still be making movies. However, for me, the original is one of those unique films that should remain as it is. It couldn’t be any better.
Before I go, let me take you back and across the sea to Morocco in 1989. Myself and Ed Fowkes (we last saw him in D for David Bowie) were travelling as part of our year off between A Levels and the future. I think we were on the train between Casablanca and Marrakesh, minding our own business and enjoying our view of this beautiful country as it trundled past the window. I realised after a short while that the muzac being piped through the speaker system was on a loop. The same tune was repeating over and over again, and I knew it from somewhere. But I couldn’t place it. What was it?! I was racking my brains until it came to me. The train muzac on the journey from Casablanca to Marrakesh was the theme to The Odd Couple! Go figure…