The Odd Couple (1968)

Today's selection:
(New York City, 1968)

Here's an old and enduring favorite. I watched this an awful lot on VHS in Germany circa '82/ '83, a sentence I write so often in these pages I should just permanently embed it. When my family came back for a few weeks in the summer of '85 I caught a rerun of the Tony Randall and Jack Klugman version - I was (and am) always whistling the theme song * and everyone always assumed on account of my age I must only know the TV show - but it didn't click with me. That's been the case for any sequels or reboots; I'm a one-and-done kind of guy with just the original movie. 

* Did you know there are words? Not my record player. I love that rhyme "As I've indicated / they are never quite separated." And that old-timey smooth, close harmonies and the dreamy ending "Don't you think it's odd...?" The whole soundtrack is dynamite. The music accompanying the supermarket scene is a personal fave but no YouTube representation alas. You'll have to trust me. Neal Hefti also wrote the Batman theme song - enough for any mere mortal, that, but he did a whole lot more

But we're here today on Scenic Route business and not to discuss the movie. I'm happy to do so after class, though, if you'd care to stay. Remind me to tell you the Neil Simon anecdote from my Playwriting class at URI.

Some jokes from the script strewn throughout. Out of context they might not make sense, but I couldn't help myself. 

David Lynch must be a fan.
"It's either very new cheese or very old meat."
Mets vs. Pirates. Only player mentioned is Bill Mazeroski, but those were some loaded teams in '68. (In more ways than one.)
Closest I could find to the supermarket scene music is this. That should be queued up to the right point, but this version is a little slower than the in-movie version.

"You leave me little notes on my pillow. I cannot stand little notes on my pillow. 'We are all out of cornflakes, F.U.' It took me three hours to figure out F.U. was Felix Unger." 

"Now it's gahbage."
Some great authentic period skyline here.

"It's twelve floors - not eleven!"



Two such improbable stars by nowadays standards. But vital to our cinematic history, fellow Americans!

Very well-drawn characters. Great performances. Neil Simon deserves re-evaluation.
"You dumb ignoramus!"
This scene with the Pigeon sisters is physical comedy/ timing at its finest.
The guys.
"I'll kill her!"
Dorothy's ex Stan.
Fletcher from Blue Thunder.
(A viable Scenic Route candidate, even though LA is getting to be over-represented.)
A Mike Hammer.

I leave you with this from Ken Levine:

"From the 60s through the end of the century Neil Simon was the king. Name me a comedy writer who got his name above the title of any play or movie he wrote. Or a screenwriter who the studios and directors were forbidden to rewrite. For God sakes, the man has a Broadway theater named after him. Today Neil is in his advancing years and his output of material has slowed considerably. Thus it’s quite conceivable that many young people don’t know who Neil Simon is.

For young writers hoping to break in and just fans of mirth in general, I say don’t forget Neil Simon. Yes, he’s from another era. I can’t imagine him ever writing SUPERBAD or FAMILY GUY. But any serious student of comedy will find much to learn (and enjoy.) His jokes are all so well-crafted and all come out of character. There are two soft-cover collections of Neil Simon plays. Check out the early ones. BAREFOOT IN THE PARK, COME BLOW YOUR HORN (his first play), and the incomparable ODD COUPLE. Notice the rhythm, the pace, how each joke moves the story forward, and how each joke just seamlessly flows into the next.

His later work adds drama and depth and of those plays I would suggest BILOXI BLUES, LOST IN YONKERS, and THE SUNSHINE BOYS but there are two or three others you might like even better. He doesn’t get the credit he deserves for his more serious work but hey, that’s the cross all of us yuckmeisters have to bear."

The Scenic Route celebrates the fashions, landscapes, cars, and vibes of a bygone age via the cinematic record.



  1. To my discredit, I have never seen this movie. Hand to God, one of these days I'm going to take a month off from other leisure-time pursuits and just watch every great-sounding movie this blog has recommended to me. That'll be a dope-ass month.

    As if my discredit couldn't get worse, I actually HAVE seen "The Odd Couple II," which I remember being fairly dreadful apart from the fact that no movie starring Matthau or Lemmon (much less both) can be an entire waste.

    Scanning the Neil Simon filmography, I'm embarrassed to admit that I've only seen a handful. "Murder By Death" (pretty good), "Biloxi Blues" (which I liked a lot during the days when it premiered on HBO), and "Seems Like Old Times" (which I loved as a kid). Of those, I remember nothing about the latter two, so they may as well not even count.

    Got me some catching up to do!

    I like these screencaps a lot. I especially like the one in which Matthau is on the phone at a baseball game. I'm a big sucker for location shots like that which are happening against the backdrop of an obviously-real event. That sort of verisimilitude is always great. No substitute for location shooting.

  2. Oh, and that thing where the theme music secretly has lyrics...? Reminds me of Gene Roddenberry's lyrics to the "Star Trek" theme, which he wrote so that he could get a big hunk of the royalties every time it got used.

    I wonder if the same sort of thing happened here?

  3. If you ever do take such a month, I hope you blog about it.

    I've revisited lots of Neil Simon over the years; "Biloxi Blues" and "Seems Like Old Times" - both movies I liked a lot back in the 80s - are two I haven't, weirdly enough. I should.

    Ever since doing this series I've been discovering other blogs that do this sort of thing way better. Like I mentioned last time I kind of enjoy this, as the pressure (self-applied as it was) is off! Anyway, Wil Pfeifer has been doing a "Favorite Films of NY" series - I keep waiting to see if we're ever going to overlap. (He's up to pt. 3 now and so far nothing. Her'es pt. 2: http://xrayspex.blogspot.com/2017/08/my-favorite-new-york-movies-part-2.html)

    1. I'm sure there are all kinds of blogs like that out there. Somehow, against all odds, the Internet manages NOT to merely be full of dross and chaff.

      If I ever can manage to mount that project, I will definitely blog it up.