Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5. USA, 1968. Paramount Pictures. Screenplay by Neil Simon, based on his play. Cinematography by Robert B. Hauser. Produced by Howard W. Koch. Music by Neal Hefti. Production Design by Hal Pereira, Walter H. Tyler. Costume Design by Jack Bear. Film Editing by Frank Bracht. Academy Awards 1968. Golden Globe Awards 1968.
Neil Simon’s most popular play is turned into a film that solidifies Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau‘s success as a comedy team, later spawning a popular television series. Lemmon plays a compulsively clean family man who breaks up with his wife and unsuccessfully attempts suicide. His poker buddy (Matthau), a slovenly fellow with a huge Manhattan apartment, invites him to come and live with him until things settle, but their differences immediately set them at war with each other. Told with the usual brand of silly jokes and contrived situations that Simon’s plays are often entrenched in, this one also benefits from sparkling performances and tight direction. The entire ensemble cast is excellent, and Simon’s dialogue is peppered with clever observations.