Wednesday, April 27, 2005
Jack and Walter
Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau were not a gay couple. I know, it's hard to believe, but it’s true. They were just friends. If they were gay, I am guessing that Lemmon would be the "female" of the relationship.
Anyway, what they did (or didn't do) in the privacy of their own tastefully decorated mansions is nobody’s business.
What they did on the movie screen was a different story.
They collaborated, A LOT. For a while in the 1990s they were like an older version of Corey Haim and Corey Feldman (by the way I think Haim is the "Jack Lemmon" of that relationship.)
Together they collaborated on 14 films. I know, film historians only count nine of their collaborations as "true collaborations" but we hate film historians.
Here are some "film historian" jokes:
Q: What do you call one film historian at the bottom of the ocean?
A: A good start.
Q: What do you call ten film historians at the bottom of the ocean?
A: A better start.
Q: What do you call two Coreys at the bottom of the ocean?
Oh man that was fun.
Let's take a look at the Jack and Walter flicks:
Fortune Cookie, The (1966): A Billy Wilder comedy starring Matthau and Lemmon as Harry Hinckle (Lemmon) a sports cameraman who was injured filming a football game, and Willie Gingrick (Matthau), the brother in law and lawyer who convinces Harry to fake an injury for the insurance money.
During the making of the film Matthau had a heart attack and then lost 30 lbs. Wouldn't it have been funny if Lemmon had convinced him to fake another heart attack so he could get insurance money? Wouldn't it also be funny if at the premiere ushers handed out fortune cookies to the guest, only instead of fortunes, the paper inside the cookie just said "HELP! I am being held hostage in a Chinese bakery!"
Odd Couple, The (1968): The quintessential Matthau/Lemmon film, this starred the two as incompatible roommates. The movie was later made into a successful TV show. I wish they had done the same thing with Fortune Cookie. Then every week Jack Lemon could fake an injury. It would be like watching hockey's Alexander Ovechkin.*
The "Obscure Reference of the Day" has been brought to you by Taco Bell who remind you to "Think outside the bun" because at Taco Bell the only buns you will see is on that cute girl that works the drive thru window.
Kotch (1971): Lemmon directed this film starring Matthau. It tells the story of Mayor Kotch and his addiction to sweaters (this is a guess, I am too lazy to research it.)
The IMDB lists Lemmon as playing an uncredited role as a "Sleeping bus passenger". I think this is poetic because, when it comes right down to it, aren't we all just sleeping passengers on the great big bus we call the Earth?
I think I should stop sniffing my glue stick.
Front Page, The (1974): The duo starred in this remake of His Girl Friday. The tagline for this film was "It's the hottest story since the Chicago Fire... And they're sitting on it." For some reason back in 1974 it seemed like a good idea to promote this film by telling people that Matthau and Lemmon had hot booties.
The Gentleman Tramp (1975): They worked as narrators on this documentary about Charlie Chaplin.
Buddy Buddy (1981): This was a bizarre film in which Matthau plays a hit man. On his way to kill a mobster he runs into a depressed man played by Lemon. Lemon's character is depressed because his wife left him for the head of a sex clinic. The hit man stops the depressed guy from committing suicide and they become friends just like Regis and Kelly.
JFK (1991): Both Lemmon and Matthau make cameos in one of Oliver Stone's first cinematic cries for help. Sadly neither helped him and he went insane sometime in the late 1990s.
Chaplin (1992): Archive footage of an Academy Award ceremony featuring both Lemmon and Matthau is played in this film. It is oddly enough, their second Chaplin based film.
Grumpy Old Men (1993): After kind of appearing in JFK and Chaplin the duo takes the screen together in a film that proved that old guys can swear continuously for 103 minutes.
Grass Harp, The (1995): In this star studded film version of a Truman Capote novel, Matthau plays Judge Charlie Cool. Lemmon plays Morris Ritz, a name that under other circumstances would have seemed silly. Nothing is silly when Judge Charlie Cool is around.
Grumpier Old Men (1995): Realizing that there were over 100 verbs that could be added to the "F" word, both Lemmon and Matthau teamed up for this sequel. The film runs two minutes shorter than the first but contains 10 more unflattering words for female genitalia.
Out to Sea (1997) They dance on a boat.
Odd Couple II, The (1998) The "Odd Couple" goes on a road trip because Felix's daughter is marrying Oscar's son. It was the last film they shot together.
Matthau died in July of 2000, almost one year (to the day) later Jack Lemon was dead. They left an amazing cinematic legacy starring in a combined 154 films.
Kid Stays In the Picture, The (2002): Once again archived footage of the two actors was incorporated into a film and shown in theaters, leaving the Coreys even bigger shoes to fill.
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