Tuesday, March 25, 2014

#709. Lemmon/Matthau: Grumpy & Odd

Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau.  Comedy icons.  Even more iconic together.  So I figured I'd write a little about them.  Doing the research, I learned they did even more movies together than I knew about, so I have more I'll have to experience of them in the future, but here're my thoughts on their induplicable pairings all the same:

  • The Odd Couple (1968) The most iconic.  Lemmon plays a suicidal man whose pal Matthau somehow keeps him alive.  I have no idea how that's even possible, but in the logic of this collaboration, it makes absolute sense.  It was originally a Broadway play and later a TV series, but chances are you know it best in this form.
  • The Fortune Cookie (1966) Apparently this one came first, however.  So maybe by the logic of Matthau being able to save Lemmon, it was on the basis that they already worked together so well!
  • The Front Page (1974) And another one.
  • Buddy Buddy (1981) And another one!  On the road to hilarity, these two!
  • Grumpy Old Men (1993) Completely unexpected late career success for these two, doing a movie together for the first time in more than a decade, and the old spark is definitely there.  Arguably, as apparent or more than in Odd Couple.  As iconic.  A family favorite, easily, the whole reason I'm such a fan.
  • Grumpier Old Men (1995) And this one's better!  The whole joke is that Lemmon and Matthau aren't just strange bedfellows, they actively hate each other!  More or less!  At least when they're competing over a woman!  Just good stuff.  And the supporting cast, including Burgess Meredith, Kevin Pollack, Daryl Hannah, Ann-Margret, and new addition Sophia Loren, keeps up with them every step of the way.  Meredith, especially, was adept at changing his image at will.  He was, as you may recall, the Penguin in the '60s Batman series, and of course Rocky's trainer.  Here he's saltiest, funniest old man you'll ever find.
  • Out to Sea (1997) But this one's my favorite.  Maybe because it's because I'm a Star Trek whore, but it's at least a thrill to see Brent Spiner in his biggest role outside of gold makeup.  Here he's the psychotic cruise director who thinks he can keep Lemmon and Matthau in line.  He has no idea!  Of course he can't!  He sings!  He dances!  He introduces himself!  He speaks in a vaguely British accent!  He's just a genuine thrill to watch.  As are Lemmon and Matthau, all over again.  Watching Matthau dance...It's one of the things everyone's gotta experience before they die.  That's mandatory as of 1997.  
  • The Odd Couple II (1998) Their final film together (within three years both would be dead, alas) brings the whole thing full circle.  What treasures they were!  Are!  


Pat Dilloway said...

The Grumpy Old Men movies were hilarious. It was one of the rare times a sequel was as good or better than the original.


Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau were comedy gold!

Tony Laplume said...

Lemmon was no lemmon. Matthau was no...I'll get back to you on that...

Glenda said...

I enjoyed them in most of the movies you listed but did find one or two I did not know about and look forward to watching.

Tony Laplume said...

I only wish I could say I've seen them all myself.


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