by Melissa Uhrin
As I was thinking about what I was going to chat about for this piece, two names kept popping into my brainwaves: Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. On their own they are fantastic actors, but together, there is something magical about them.
On the hunt for more, I began my research and discovered The Odd Couple was their second collaboration (although they give the impression they had been acting together for years), the first being Billy Wilder's Fortune Cookie (1966), for which Matthau won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. And try as I might, I came up dry in all my searches for an instant viewing copy of this. I definitely do not give up that easy, the hunt shall continue!!
The next logical step was the Grumpy and Grumpier Old Men movies. I hold these near and dear to my heart, as this just so happened to be one of my first remembered experiences of OLD PEOPLE being funny. HAHA! Aren't I an ass?! It does ring true though (for me at least), as up to this point, most of my movie experiences placed "older" actors in the caring grandparent role or the cantankerous old coot that sat in the corner and threw in a witty quip every so often, but they were never really the feature subject of any movie. These guys are nothing short of glorious together in the film that introduced them to a whole new generation of fans. Of which I was one! Yay! The original of the two films is by far my favourite -- there's really only so much you can do with the grumpy old man seeks wife premise -- but again the chemistry between Matthau and Lemmon is so wonderful that you can't help but love it for that aspect alone. How well a beautiful friendship translates onto the screen, even when they are hating on each other.
Side Note: To this day, when I smell something funky in anyone's car, my immediate thought is of the ever evasive rotting fish. But I've learned that you can't always comment on the smell in someone's car, as it may have been something that snuck out of their butt.
I searched and searched for Out To Sea, but the one copy we found was of poor quality and did not properly play. It has been added to my To Watch list along with The Fortune Cookie, Buddy Buddy, The Front Page and Kotch. Not content with my collection viewed for this piece, I struck out on a mission for more of Matthau and Lemmon and wound up watching them as individuals.
The underlying theme is much more easy to see with my grown-up eyes, though. After doing some reading about it, I have a better understanding of it being a glimpse into competition in our societies. When I was 10 (maybe 11), my dad signed me up for a baseball team (we were living on the Canadian Air Force base in Lahr, Germany at the time). I knew I was not good, but that's what practise and coaching and teamwork are for right? Nope. Life lesson the first: As the only girl on the team, I stood out. As the worst player on the team. I was benched. When I eventually quit the team, my coach said I was doing the right thing. They were in it for winning, not for teaching kids how to be team players. Stupid adults. You know not what you do.
But my getting carried away with Ms. Monroe shall be left for the next piece. Today is about this. Writers can write the wittiest of lines. Directors can direct the crap out of any performance, but it takes the magic that Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau had together that creates such endearing and unforgettable moments in film history.
“Did you win the lottery, dickhead?"
"Did you enjoy your shower, smartass?”