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The Odd Couple - Centennial Collection - comedy DVD / classic film DVD review
Rated G by the Motion Picture Association of America curledupdvd.com rating: 4 stars
Actors: Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau, John Fiedler, Herb Edelman, David Sheiner, Larry Haines
Director: Gene Saks   Distributor: Paramount
DVD release: 24 March 2009   Runtime: 105 minutes
(2 discs)
Format: AC-3, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, DVD-Video, Original recording remastered, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC

DVD features: Aspect ratio 2.35:1, Audio (Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround - English; Mono - Spanish, French), Subtitles (English, French, Spanish), Commentary by Charlie Matthau and Chris Lemmon, In the Beginning., Inside The Odd Couple, Memories from the Set, Matthau & Lemmon, The Odd Couple: A Classic, Photo galleries (production and movie), Theatrical trailer

Neil Simon's play The Odd Couple has had quite a run. It started as a play in 1965 and had a very successful Broadway run, thanks in part to Mike Nichols' direction. In 1968, it was made into a film directed by Gene Saks. In 1970, it started a five-year run as a TV series. It's been remade, followed by a sequel, and has had a continued life on the stage - which is why even if you've never seen it, you may know what it's about. I'll proceed regardless.

Felix Ungar wanders despondently through New York City. He checks into a seedy motel, requesting a room on one of the upper floors so that he can kill himself. Failing at this, he wanders on to Oscar Madison's apartment where the weekly poker game takes place. Felix's wife has thrown him out of his house, and divorce is imminent. Oscar allows Felix to move into his eight-room apartment until he can get on his feet again. Trouble is, the pair are far from compatible. Felix is obnoxiously fastidious in his cooking and cleaning, and he's introduced the concept of the coaster to the regular poker game. By contrast, Oscar is a slob who offers guests a choice of brown or green sandwiches from his broken refrigerator.

Felix is played by Jack Lemmon, Oscar by Walter Matthau. The Odd Couple is perhaps the finest example of the Lemmon/Matthau team-up, but there are other performances here that are just amazing. Monica Evans and Carole Shelley play Cecily and Gwendolyn Pigeon, the upstairs neighbors who positively vibrate with tittering laughter and life. They're divorcees, so they have something in common with Oscar and Felix. In one dinner party, they go from insane laughter to tears in a matter of minutes. Their energy is really terrific.

The film is set up much the way a play would be, particulary in the staging. We mostly only see three walls of Oscar's apartment and only rarely go places a play couldn't. During the poker game, one end of the table is always left open. I suppose Saks did this to honor the source material. He could have broken with this to make it seem more cinematic, but why? It works so well as a play.

Here again, Paramount does a fine job with this item in its Centennial Collection. The second disc includes making-of featurettes, perspectives on Matthau and Lemmon's friendship and working relationship, the film's trailer and other behind-the-scenes goodies. Chris Lemmon and Charlie Matthau, sons of the leads, team up for the commentary track. It's too bad Paramount waited so long to release this, or we could have had the elder Lemmon and Matthau.
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reviewed by Eric Renshaw
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