The Odd Couple (1968)

The Odd Couple (1968)The Odd Couple is a comedy film released in 1968 by Paramount Pictures. The film follows the story of Felix Ungar and Oscar Madison, who divorce their wives and decide to live together despite their differing personalities. The film is based on Mel Brooks, who decided to live with his friend after getting divorced.

The film was delivered with three tag lines during its promotional period: Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau are The Odd Couple… say no more" and "Even more funny on the screen… than it was as a Broadway and city-to-city stage smash!"

Cast and Crew of The Odd Couple

The two central characters who make up "The Odd Couple" are Felix Ungar and Oscar Madison, played by Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau, respectively. Supporting characters include Vinnie (John Fiedler), Murray (Herb Edelman), Roy (David Sheiner), Speed (Larry Haines), Cecily Pigeon (Monica Evans), and Gwendolyn Pigeon (Carole Shelley).

The Odd Couple was directed by Gene Saks and produced by Howard W. Koch. The screenplay for the film was written by Neil Simon. Neal Hefti developed the score for The Odd Couple. Cinematography and editing were done by Robert B. Hauser and Frank Bracht, respectively.

The film was released on May 2, 1968, and features a running length of 106 minutes.

Plot Synopsis for The Odd Couple

The Odd Couple begins with Felix Ungar checking into a lousy hotel room and trying to commit suicide by leaping from a window. The window gets stuck, and he pulls a back muscle. Felix limps back down to the street and proceeds to get drunk, but is again thwarted when he strains his neck tossing back a shot. Next, we see him standing on a bridge, deciding whether or not he want to jump into a river.

Following the opening scene, Oscar Madison, a divorced writer, is shown in his filthy Manhattan apartment. Oscar, Speed, Roy, Murray, and Vinnie are playing a game of poker and talking about their Friend Felix, who hasn’t yet arrived at the game. They receive a call from Murray’s wife, who informs them that Felix has just gotten a divorce. They suspect that Felix may try to kill himself when Felix finally arrives, unaware that his friends know of his recent separation. Finally, Felix breaks down and tells his friends of his predicament. Oscar invites him to move in, and Felix agrees, telling Oscar to let him know if he becomes a nuisance.

Shortly after moving in, Oscar can no longer stand the presence of Felix, who is a compulsive neat freak, constantly belittling Oscar for being messy. Felix mopes around the house thinking about his wife, while Oscar would rather be out having fun. Oscar attends a baseball game at Shea Stadium in order to write about it, and misses a key triple play when Felix calls to ask what he’d like for dinner. A montage is shown, depicting the odd couple playing pool, bowling, and walking the streets. Felix drives away the players at their next poker game, at which point Oscar convinces Felix to go on a double-date with a pair of British sisters who live in their apartment complex.

Of course, the date goes poorly. Felix is left alone with the Pigeon sisters, at which point he breaks down again and talks about his ex wife. Oscar returns to find all three of them weeping. The four of them go to the sisters’ apartment, but Felix decides he’d rather stay in and wash his hair. Oscar goes to the other apartment, only to spend the time venting his frustrations regarding Felix.

At this point of The Odd Couple, Oscar is furious at Felix, and purposely makes his life miserable by refusing to talk to him and making the apartment as messy as possible. Felix continues to incessantly clean, building the tension between the pair. Oscar kicks Felix out of the apartment, leaving Oscar feeling very guilty.

Oscar and his poker friends search the city for Felix, only to find that he has moved into the apartment with the Pigeon sisters. The pair apologize to each other.

Awards for The Odd Couple

The Odd Couple was nominated for an Oscar for Writing-Adapted Screenplay, written by Neil Simon. Frank Bracht was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Film Editing, and also an Eddie award by the American Cinema Editors. The Odd Couple was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture in the Musical or Comedy category. Both Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau were nominated for Golden Globes for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy. Gene Sacks received a nomination for Outstanding Directorial Achievement by the Directors Guild of America.

Additional Notes for The Odd Couple

The scene filmed at Shea Stadium was shot just before an actual Mets-Pirates game in June of 1967. Bill Mazeroski ended up hitting the triple play missed by Oscar after Roberto Clemente refused to do it.

Neil Hefti composed the award-winning jazz theme used in The Odd Couple.

The Odd Couple debuted as a TV series based on the film in 1970 on ABC. The actors involved were different, with Tony Randall playing Felix Unger and Jack Klugman playing Oscar Madison. The film ran for five seasons, with 114 thirty-minute episodes. The Pigeon sisters were featured frequently in the first season, with Carole Shelley and Monica Evans reprising their roles. Although both Tony Randall and Jack Klugman received Emmy nominations for the series, the show never received high ratings. The TV series ends with Felix remarrying his ex wife. The complete series is available on DVD, albeit with the edited, syndicated versions of the episodes.