Roommates are always comic fodder when their personalities are completely opposite. There are moments when the fun of their lifestyle clashes leads to homicide or a murder-suicide. Who knows what happens when two divorced guys are stuck together. In the case of Neil Simons The Odd Couple, it led to a Broadway hit, a blockbuster movie and a successful TV show. The movie reunited the acting duo of Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau after they played so well off each other in Billy Wilders The Fortune Cookie. The Odd Couple: Centennial Collection is a celebration of this duo in their prime.
The film starts on a bad note as Felix Unger (Lemmon) has been booted from his house by his wife. His world has been destroyed. He wants to kill himself. His first attempt to jump from a hotel window is averted due to a sticky window and a painful back injury. To the rescue comes his pal Oscar Madison (Matthau). It seems like this can work out except for one big problem. Felix is a neatfreak with health issues. Oscar is a complete slop whose apartment looks like a crime scene. He isnt bothered by germs. The apartment becomes a battleground with Felix destroying Oscars “system” for storing stuff and hiding old food.
While its a comedy, the film does seriously look at the culture of divorce that was growing in 1968. The two guys emotionally deal with their break ups in different ways. Oscar doesnt seem to care too much. Hes mainly upset that he has to continue paying alimony. Not being the most organized of guys, hes always late on sending out the checks. Felix is completely busted up by his wife sending him away. He wants things to change. However his compulsive behavior is way too much for her. Nowadays theyd just prescribe him way too many pills to get him to loosen up. What goes completely wrong is that Felix becomes Oscars wife. However there is no gay subtext. The two guys do like the ladies. Felix is still hung up on his wife. Oscar wants to score with the Pigeon sisters. This isn’t the father of Brokeback Mountain.
As a fan of The Odd Couple TV series (with Jack Klugman and Tony Randall in the lead), its interesting to see the apartment lit theatrically. It never looked nearly this moody on the first season of the series when they shot without a studio audience. The walls are shadowy with darkness lurking down the hallway. Oscars bedroom looks like a cave.
The Odd Couple is still a vibrant film after all these years. There are still guys who find themselves depending upon each other when their relationships go bust. The film reminds us that even if you save a pal, theres a strong chance youll fight the urge to choke them to death yourself. This isnt merely a movie, its a training film for life.
The video is 2.35:1 anamorphic. The new transfer dazzles. You get a sense of the colors of Manhattan as the duo wander around Manhattan. The details of the apartment come through clearly. You can almost smell what Oscar has piled up under his bed. The audio is Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround. They dont get to fancy with the new mix. You can hear Matthau getting huffy as Felix unclutters his perfect world. There are French and Spanish mono dub tracks. The subtitles are in English, French and Spanish.
Commentary Track features Chris Lemmon and Charlie Matthau. The sons do have plenty of tales about their fathers. Seeing how many films the duo made together, its no surprise that their families really did know each other.
In the Beginning (17:01) discovers that this came from Neil visiting a recently divorced relative. They give us stills from the Broadway production that had Art Carney (The Honeymooners) and Walter Matthau. Larry King remembers seeing the stage play the first time. Larry King is old.
Inside the Odd Couple (19:05) has Robert Evan and Gene Saks talk about the casting and other elements of making the film happen.
Memories From the Set (10:23) has more recollections from the people who were part of the production. Saks brings up an improv moment about the coffee cup being thrown.
Matthau & Lemmon (10:34) has their sons discuss the friendship of their fathers.
â€¨Galleries have numerous pictures from behind the scenes and on the set.
â€¨Theatrical Trailer (2:46) asks if two single men living all alone in an eight room apartment can survive. It pushes the neat freak versus the slob element.
The Odd Couple: Centennial Collection brings out the best in these immortal roommates. For anyone that complains that their roommate is either a slob or fussy, this movie is for you. This also reminds us why Poker nights with the boys must remain sacred.
Paramount Home Entertainment presents The Odd Couple: Centennial Collection. Starring: Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon. Running Time: 105 minutes. Directed by: Gene Saks. Written by: Neil Simon. Released on DVD: March 17, 2009. Available at Amazon.com
Tags: Jack Klugman, The Odd Couple