Thursday, 18 February 2016

Blind Spot Series: The Odd Couple

When I was selecting my films for this year's list, I realised that I was lacking comedy so to fill one of the last spots I added the 1968 film, based on Neil Simon's play of the same name, The Odd Couple. Starring frequent acting partners, Walter Matthau and one of my all time favourites, Jack Lemmon as the odd couple.
The story is about Felix (Lemmon) who has just split up from his wife, the decision was all her and he is left devastated. After failing to commit suicide, he warrives late to the weekly poker game with his friends. It's always held at Oscar's (Matthau) place seeing as he lives alone after divorcing his wife a few years ago. The place is disgusting, his fridge doesn't work and there are layers of grimes from years ago. When Felix's friends find out whats happened, they leave him in the care of Oscar who asks him to live at his place until he gets back on his feet. Three later Oscar asks his friend to leave as he is the most annoying person to live with. He neurotic, obsessed with cleaning and must have everything just so. The friends come to blows and part, but Felix finds a new place to live so his friendship with Oscar isn't entirely ruined.

I had read about The Odd Couple and I knew there was a sequel and a TV series and a remake of that TV series that starred Matthew Perry made recently. I knew about the classic dynamic, slob and uptight clean freak, as someone said, they are the types we know and recognise. We can all relate to either Felix or Oscar in some way, I know I can.

Strangley enough I can relate to some of Felix's annoyances. I'm a bit of tidy neat freak, I have to have things in their place, I get distressed when there is mess. At the moment there is a pile of things where my sofa used to be and it pains me to look at it as I don't have time to sort it. I know that is the sort of thing that would hurt Felix. Oscar, on the other hand is a complete slob. He can't clean, won't clean, doesn't wash anything, won't fix anything, isn't organised, can't keep up payments and offers guests out of date food. All these things aside, he's a good friend. He takes in Felix, gives him a place to live and encourages him to go out in the world, including meeting women. Felix in return cleans his whole apartment, helps him save money and gets him organised but he also irritates Oscar and the rest of his friends to the point they want him to jump out of the window.

The film is based on the play by Neil Simon and as with most films based on plays, it feels that way too. Most of the scenes take place in Oscar's apartment, all the action, long speeches, heartaches, suicide threats and reconcilliations take place there. There are a couple of scenes set outside or on the roof to break up the apartment scenes which after sometime feel stuffy, but other than that, space is confined to a few rooms. The confinement makes the struggle and irritations between characters amplified and you can feel tension mounting almost after the first intial scenes and at points it starts to feel uncomfortable.

The film is mean to be a comedy and I did find myself laughing along at points but this was due to the brilliant deliverance from Lemmon and Matthau. The dialogue between these too is animated and exciting, even though they are just arguing about there being food on the wall, which Oscar threw. They are a great duo and I can see why the worked together often, they are captivating. But not only with the humerous lines. The best scene I though was when Oscar finally breaks down and asks Felix to leave. He is moved to tears almost, its hard to tell with Matthau, and Felix is dumbstruck. These two are true friends and even they have breaking points and this is that point in their lives.

Although I enjoyed the film and the story, I can see why it was turned into a TV series, the format works much better this way, or as a play. I'm also rather curious by the sequal and why they made that but I will look into that another time. A great film with a brilliant duo, just makes me want to watch The Front Page again.

To see where it all started and for an excellent insight to film, have a look at The Matinee and have a look HERE for more Blind Spot posts from other bloggers. 


  1. I grew up watching the original sitcom and loved it. Tony Randall and Jack Klugman made a perfect Felix and Oscar, respectively. Sadly, I never watched the movie. I want to, but from your review it sounds so familiar I don't think I need to. Fyi, before the recent remake of the series, way before, there was a series called The New Odd Couple. This one starred Ron Glass of Barney Miller fame and Desmond Wilson of Sanford & Son as our heroes. Didn't really work. Glad you caught up with the movie.

  2. Lovely review! The Odd Couple is one-of-all-my-time favorites! So happy that you liked it. Lemmon and Matthau are truly great together, and there is a vibrant rhythm to how the film is staged and their performances. It feels like a play captured on film. I wish there were more like these made today.

  3. Whoa so many versions of The Odd Couple. I'm guessing if you've seen one version of the duo its kinda the same. I think Jack Lemmon swayed it for me.

  4. Thank you! You're right, you don't get to see a duo like this anymore.