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Gene Saks
Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau, John Fiedler, Herb Edelman, David Sheiner, Larry Haines, Monica Evans, Carole Shelley
Writing Credits:
Neil Simon (and play)

Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau are The Odd Couple ... say no more.

Neil Simon has a special genius for finding the great hilarity in ordinary people doing everyday things. Like two divorced men who decide to share a New York apartment. That's the premise of The Odd Couple, though there's nothing odd in the casting of two Oscar-winning talents like Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. The two veteran funnymen work together with the precision timing of a vaudeville team, but always with bright spontaneity. Lemmon plays fussy Felix, fastidious to a fault. He proves that cleanliness is next to insanity. Matthau is Oscar, who wreaks havoc on a tidy room with the speed and thoroughness of a tornado. An enduring and endearing picture, with the intelligence one usually misses in comedies.

Rated G

Widescreen 2.35:1/16x9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English Monaural
French Monaural
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 105 min.
Price: $9.98
Release Date: 12/12/2000

• Theatrical Trailer


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Harman/Kardon DPR 2005 7.1 Channel Receiver; Toshiba A-30 HD-DVD/1080p Upconverting DVD Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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The Odd Couple (1968)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 6, 2009)

Many movies have been adapted into TV shows, but few have been genuinely successful in this regard. M*A*S*H stands as the champion in this regard; not only did the show live up to the film, but it probably exceeded it as it ultimately became one of the most popular and acclaimed TV programs in history.

The Odd Couple never achieved the success of M*A*S*H, but some people think of it as the better TV show. Actually, itís hard to compare the two simply because M*A*S*H aired for so many more years than did The Odd Couple; the latter managed a five-year stint while M*A*S*H stuck it out for a whopping 11 years. Inevitably the quality decreases with that length of a run, so itíd be more appropriate to compare the two in a briefer period of time.

In any case, The Odd Couple made for a terrific show. Iíd always thought the TV program bettered the 1968 movie, but since itíd been quite a long time since I saw the latter, I was curious to watch it again and determine if my opinion changed.

Nope. The TV version of Couple remains the perfect rendition of the story, mainly due to the performances of its stars. Yes, Tony Randall and Jack Klugman seem to have an unfair advantage since I grew up with them as Felix and Oscar, respectively. However, just because Iím accustomed to certain performers in various roles doesnít mean that I canít change my mind. For instance, I thought Roger Moore was the best Bond for quite some time before I realized the idiocy of my ways and changed my vote to Sean Connery.

However, nothing that I saw in the film version of Couple gave me reason to alter my opinion: Randall and Klugman are it. If one wanted to argue about it, youíd have a better shot championing the virtues of Walter Matthauís Oscar, as itís a much closer competition between him and Klugman. Actually, Matthau probably offers the better portrayal of the role; his laissez faire attitude seems a little more convincing and he makes Oscar less of a grouch. Klugman could over-emote at times and demonstrate inappropriate histrionics as Oscar.

However, his chemistry with Randall was outstanding, so thatís why he remains my choice. As for Randall and Jack Lemmonís Felix, there is no comparison. Lemmon is a terrific actor but I didnít care for his spin on the character. Frankly, he made Felix much too aggressive and unlikable. Granted, Felix can be awfully annoying and hard to embrace, but there need to be some redeeming characteristics at work. I didnít see that in Lemmonís performance; he creates an irritating jerk who seemed much too strident.

Randall excelled for a number of reasons. First of all, he made all of Felixís quirks appear natural, and we saw a range of emotions in the character. Yes, Felix was and always will be a caricature, but Randall brought out the humanity in the role. We loved his Felix in spite of his behavior.

Randallís impeccable comic timing didnít hurt either, and Felix works better as a martyr than as an abrasive nuisance. As much as you want to swat Randallís Felix, you could always empathize with him to a degree, and Randall really know how to push the characterís buttons in just the right proportions.

My strong preference for the TV edition of Couple aside, I still find the film to be a mildly interesting experience. Itís a fairly witty flick that has held up reasonably well over the years. However, I really find it tough to get beyond my fondness for the TV show. I continually thought how much better it would execute gags, and how much funnier the acting would be.

As such, I donít know how objective I can be about The Odd Couple. I grew up watching the TV show, and as Iíve learned through continued reruns and the DVDs, I still think itís a fantastic piece of work. The movie provided able groundwork for it but simply doesnít stand up well in comparison with the TV seriesí delights. I enjoyed the time I spent with the movie of The Odd Couple but still would rather have watched the TV show.

One trivia note: only two actors continued their roles from the movie into the TV series. That would be the Pigeon sisters, played by Monica Evans and Carole Shelley. However, they werenít the only performers from the film to appear on the show; John Fiedler - the movieís Vinnie - also made two separate appearances on the series as different characters.

The DVD Grades: Picture C-/ Audio B-/ Bonus D-

The Odd Couple appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, single-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. The transfer demonstrated a mix of concerns.

The main problems stemmed from source defects. Grain seemed a bit heavy, and I noticed quite a few examples of specks, marks, debris and other flaws. These were never overwhelming, but they created pretty frequent distractions.

Sharpness was lackluster. While the movie never looked terribly soft, it suffered from moderate edge enhancement and usually seemed a bit iffy. Definition was never as good as it should have been, and the edge haloes contributed an indistinct air to the proceedings. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering materialized, though.

The Odd Couple generally used a fairly restricted palette - it stayed with a lot of interior shots and featured a modest brownish tint to much of the film - and the hues we did see were erratic. For the most part, they seemed acceptable, though they could come across as a little too heavy and oversaturated. Black levels seemed fairly deep and rich, but shadows tended to be somewhat thick and opaque. All of this left the transfer as a disappointing ďC-ď.

On the other hand, I felt reasonably impressed with the filmís remixed Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. This came from the original monaural mix - which also appears on the DVD - and it provided a nice auditory experience. The soundfield demonstrated a definite bias toward the forward channels. Sound spread modestly to the sides, mainly due to the stereo score.

I also heard some evidence of effects from the right and left speakers, and the package blended together in a quiet but efficient manner. The surrounds provided almost no noticeable audio. At most they offered gentle reinforcement of effects and music, but for all intents and purposes, they didnít exist.

Audio quality seemed dated but good. Dialogue sounded reasonably natural and distinct, and speech largely lacked evidence of edginess or problems related to intelligibility. When the actors left the confines of the interior sets - which was rare - the lines could sound rougher, but these instances caused no major concerns.

Effects seemed slightly thin but came across as acceptably realistic and clear, and the score was nicely rich and bright. At times the music seemed somewhat harsh, but as a whole it seemed clean and vivid. Make no mistake: the soundtrack to The Odd Couple showed its age. However, for a 41-year-old track, it worked surprisingly well.

In terms of extras, we get almost nothing here. All we have is the filmís theatrical trailer.

Frankly, I found the movie of The Odd Couple interesting mainly as a curiosity. My affection for the TV show on which it was based remains very strong, which makes it difficult for me to see much of value from the film; I think the TV series outdid it in almost every way. Nonetheless, Couple is a generally witty and interesting feature. The DVD offered good sound but suffered from inconsistent visuals and lacked significant extras. This is a disappointing release.

To rate this film visit Centennial Collection review of THE ODD COUPLE

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