The Odd Couple appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. While not stellar, the transfer usually seemed satisfying.
For the most part, the movie exhibited positive sharpness. Wide shots could be a bit soft, though, as the presentation exhibited some tentative delineation at times. Nonetheless, the flick usually looked reasonably well-defined and concise.
No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, but light edge enhancement could be seen during parts of the movie. Source flaws remained minor. I witnessed occasional examples of small specks and a tiny hair or two but nothing more intense than that. Grain appeared appropriate and not excessive.
The Odd Couple generally used a fairly restricted palette, primarily because so much of it took place in Oscar’s dingy apartment. This meant a set of colors without pop much of the time, which was fine given the visual design. When given the chance – such as during the scene at the go-go club – the hues presented nice vivacity. Black levels seemed fairly deep and rich, while shadows demonstrated good clarity. The softness and smattering of defects left this as a “B-“, but it’s a perfectly acceptable presentation.
I felt reasonably impressed with the film’s remixed Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. This came from the original monaural mix 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 didn’t 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.
How did the picture and audio of this 2009 “Centennial Collection Edition” compare to those of the release from 2000? I thought both offered identical 5.1 audio, but the 2009 disc demonstrated visual improvements. The new version exhibited somewhat tighter definition, decreased levels of edge haloes, and reduced evidence of print defects. The new transfer came with its problems, but it provided noticeable improvements when compared to its predecessor.
Note that this disc loses the original English monaural soundtrack found on the original DVD. While I like the 5.1 remix, I still think it’s a shame that Paramount failed to include the movie’s theatrical audio.
While the original DVD included only the film’s trailer - which also appears here – this 2009 version throws in a bunch of additional extras. On DVD One, we get an audio commentary with actors’ sons Chris Lemmon and Charlie Matthau. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific conversation. They discuss memories of their famous fathers as well as observations about the film.
In theory, this sounds like a fun commentary. In reality, it proves only fitfully compelling. While they provide occasional into their dads and the friendship they shared, they also often tell us little more than what they like about the movie. The track doesn’t flop, but it rarely offers enough depth to make it a winner.
The rest of the components appear on DVD Two. In the Beginning… goes for 17 minutes, one seconds and includes remarks from Chris Lemmon, Charlie Matthau, talk show host Larry King, Broadway revival actor Brad Garrett, director Gene Saks, former studio head Robert Evans, and actors David Sheiner and Carole Shelley. We learn of the project’s roots and development as well as script and story, and the film’s leads.
For the most part, “Beginning” provides another ode to Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. Other details seem rudimentary at best, so they tell us little about the production. Instead, we’re told how wonderful Lemmon and Matthau were. Despite a few interesting stories, this gets tiresome and means that the featurette fails to prove very informative.
Next comes the 19-minute and six-second Inside The Odd Couple. It features Evans, Saks, Sheiner, Garrett, Charlie Matthau, Shelley, Charlie Matthau, and Chris Lemmon. “Inside” examines casting and crew, rehearsals, supporting characters and performances, and reflections on favorite scenes. “Inside” rebounds after the fluffy “Beginning”, though it still provides a fair amount of praise. Nonetheless, it throws in a mix of good details.
With Memories from the Set, we find 10 minutes and 24 seconds of comments from Saks and Sheiner. As implied by the title, “Memories” mostly consists of anecdotes from the production. Most of these concentrate on the lead actors, and we get a nice mix of tales about their work.
We get more from the actors via the 10-minute and 35-second Matthau and Lemmon. It provides notes from Chris Lemmon, Charlie Matthau, Shelley, Sheiner, King, and Evans. Once again, we get memories of the film’s lead actors. Many of these repeat from the commentary, but we do get some decent insights into the relationship between the actors’ sons.
For the final featurette, we locate The Odd Couple: A Classic. It fills three minutes and two seconds with info from Shelley, Chris Lemmon, Sheiner, King, Garrett, Saks and Evans. They all reflect on the film’s greatness. It’s a short and not particularly interesting piece.
Under Galleries, we get photos broken into two subdomains. The disc looks at “Production” (27 shots) and “The Movie” (29). Nothing particularly memorable appears in the second area, but “Production” includes a good collection of images. One quibble: subtitles would be nice so we can identify all the participants.
Finally, the set includes a booklet. The eight-page piece provides some short production notes and a few photos. It’s not memorable but it’s a nice way to finish the set.
One minor gripe: the main menus for both DVDs One and Two feature some generic Odd Couple style music. I don’t believe we ever hear the tune in the film, and I find it strange that the menus don’t use the iconic theme. Perhaps it was a question of money, but the bland song played here gives the package a bargain basement feel.
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 reasonably good picture and sound along with an average collection of extras. Because it improves on the prior DVD, this “Centennial Collection” of The Odd Couple is worth a double dip for fans, but it’s not a great release.